By David Howlett –

It’s a missed opportunity that so few advertisements carry subtitles, when one in six people regularly use the closed caption option when viewing content. We’ve been offering this service on the video ads and the social media videos we produce for many years, and we always recommend it. There is a small cost increase to cover this, and this seems to have been a blocker for some. But the numbers are surely now making the case for this to be done every time? For this small incremental cost, every advert or video will hold the attention of the 17% of the audience who use subtitles to follow what they are watching, when otherwise it would be without its full meaning.

There are not many small tweaks that you can make to any video that have such a rapid payback. In addition to those people who have diagnosed hearing difficulties, there are many more people who choose to turn on subtitles to overcome the din of everyday life. This is often the case for those using mobile devices with earbuds whilst on a train or bus, or even at home when watching on a device whilst someone else in the room is playing something on the TV.

Subtitles act as a safety net to make sure you don’t lose the plot on the latest Netflix blockbuster just as the train driver announces the latest delay in your journey! It’s also very much aligned with best practice on the social media platforms which often auto-start the videos without audio. We also note that Procter & Gamble has said it will be adding audio descriptions of what’s happening on screen to help the high percentage of people who watch TV and video content with some form of visual impairment.

Again, there’s obviously a small cost attached, but it’s the right thing to do both commercially and morally. UK Ofcom targets exist for TV Channels (both BBC and privately funded TV), but it’s down to brand owners to do the right thing in their advertising for their customers. We’d argue it’s safeguarding the future appeal of their brands to make the decision now to do this on every video they commission or produce, and winning them a short term advantage over their slow-moving competitors, as well as yielding an immediate Return On Investment. What’s not to like? ICP is very happy to work with adtext for both subtitling and audio descriptions, and we will be pleased to advise on this for all global clients.

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