Retro Tech: Are Silent Videos Making A Comeback?

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You boot up your camera, ready to tell your customers all about CDPs. The lighting's perfect, the director yells "action!". Charlie Chaplin proceeds to get stuck in an oversized factory cog. "Cut!". That's the problem with working with these silent movies stars - too many shenanigans. 

Charlie Chaplin GIF by Coolidge Corner Theatre

Talking about retro tech, people still watch over 100M hours of video on Facebook everyday. And between 83%-92% of that content is watched without the viewer turning the audio on. 

Plus, video posts have 135% higher organic reach than regular photo posts, so you need to make the absolute most of them.

According to data, 80% of people will actually have a negative reaction to a mobile ad that plays automatically, especially in a location where they're not expecting it. Think playing a Clash of Clans advert in the middle of Sunday Mass. Not ideal. C'mon Jimmy, put your phone away and listen to the homily.

People will think negatively of your brand, if they have a negative experience with it. 

Looking for the down low from a download? Want to be overly-informed on Video Marketing? Well, check out our Video Marketing Tech Best Practice Guide, here!

Why do silent videos work?

Well, audiences are multitaskers. 

A study from eMarketer found that individuals tend to spend 12 hours a day consuming content, and this tends to be alongside other simultaneous interactions. So, that might be watching The Sopranos whilst scrolling through Insta. C'mon Jimmy, put your phone away and watch Tony Soprano do some crimes. 

In fact, with the growth of the Internet of Things, the opportunity to reach customers through a wealth of different devices is growing. So, there's a lot of competition for your client's attention. This means you've got to work alongside their changing consumption habits, instead of competing with hundreds of other eye-catching, attention-grabbing content producers. 

Instead, you can insert yourself into their ongoing media experience. It's unlikely (unless they're super super interested) that they'll pause The Sopranos, or mute their Spotify playlist, to watch your 2 min video on CDPs. So, work with them. 


And mobile optimisation doesn't just stop at the webpage. Many brands are figuring out how to optimise their video content for mobile devices. Although, this often leads to the consideration of how it looks, such as making sure it's filmed vertically. But you've also got to consider the audio. 

"Smartphones have given us immediate, unlimited access to our own personalized broadcast networks and created a world where people no longer have to fight over the remote to get access to the stories they want to see," says Paige Breaux of Skyword.

"Creating a better browsing experience is as advantageous for brands as it is for consumers."

So, this means allowing your videos to be watchable, always, whether Jimmy is in Church, or watching The Sopranos. 

How Can You Do it?

Provide clear, quick, and useful information.

With the amount of content, and the ability to scroll quickly to the next post, your customer has the ability to move on from anything that doesn't immediately help them.

Viewers are often searching for the answer to a problem. They want a quick and easy answer. If your video pops up, with clear visuals, they'll be more likely to stick around. And possibly even unmute. Remember, your video doesn't have to be without narrative, it just has to be watchable without the sound. 

Consider the old screenwriting trick: show, don't tell. This means communicating an idea to your audience without just outright telling them what's going on. Think strong visuals, not exposition. 

The challenge then becomes "how can I create videos where the entire message can be communicated through images only, without sounds?".

Like this ad by Knock, challenge breeds creativity, and that leads to the video becoming memorable.


Plus, people remember pictures far better than words. A study by the University of Toronto found that:

"Humans have a remarkable ability to remember pictures. It was shown several decades ago that people can remember more than 2,000 pictures with at least 90% accuracy in recognition tests over a period of several days, even with short presentation times during learning. This excellent memory for pictures consistently exceeds our ability to remember words"

So, create content that explains itself. This means coming up with content that doesn't need audio to explain what your brand is, or the emotions it'll make your customer feel. You could start with a statement, or question, that grabs your client's interest, even.

Think about what makes your brand, your brand. Then, slim it down, and figure out a way to communicate this core message. Cut to the chase; don't go for too much subtlety. A confusing message will not work - remember, you only have a few seconds to stop the customer's scroll.  

And keep it short. If you intend to use in-stream video, i.e. videos which are streamed before, during or at the end of a video a viewer is already viewing, then you'll need to keep it within the 5-15 second range. The maximum stands at 31 seconds. Shorter ads tend to have higher completion rates. 

Invest in Captioning

50% of consumers say that captions are important because they watch videos without the audio on.

On top of this, when captions were available, 37% said they were encouraged to switch the sound on, as the videos seemed more interesting. Plus, 29% said that the captioning helped them understand the video, even without the sound. 

Adding captions also helped ad performance, contributing to an 8% uptick in ad recall, and a 10% lift in ad memory quality, as well as a 13% increase in brand linkage.

And this goes beyond the direct increase in activity. 

Captioning your videos helps your business meet the standards set by disability acts, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA. 

If you don't do this, you'll be excluding parts of your audience which are hard of hearing, or deaf. If you don't add closed captions, it'll hinder their experience of your brand. 

Transcripts are another option. When you add these alongside your videos, Google has more text to crawl. This helps your Search Engine Optimisation, and helps you bulk out your keyword inclusion.


When videos have subtitles, people tend to stick around to read them. Facebook's own testing found that captioned videos were watched an average of 12% longer than un-captioned ads. 

Incorporate Animation and Creative Styles

Animation works perfectly with no audio. As they are visually-reliant, and visually appealing, they can be easily effective. 

If you write a script or outline without a voice over, your animation will automatically be social-media compatible, without having to change anything. 

Make sure all your visuals are big, colourful and bold, so it'll stand out on the customer's news feed. Think high-contrast images!

Plus, animations provide a great alternative to high-budget productions. They don't require actors, cameras, or locations, so costs can be kept down. 


You could also dabble into the 'news' style. Facebook's algorithm prioritises news from friends and family over publishers, which means you need to mimic the content a user will see in their news feed.