Subtitling Adverts Can Help Increase Brand Awareness

As more videos are being watched without sound, new research finding subtitling can help to inform viewers about key messaging

New research by AdColony, in association with Millward Brown, has found that certain brands can increase awareness of their products through subtitling their adverts.

The research analysed two versions of adverts, from brands including Disney, Volvo, Bose and Sony Pictures, with one standard production video and another with additional subtitles/text narrative.

Overall, the research found that subtitled advertising outperformed non-subtitled across all focus areas for the companies tested. However, it also found notable variances when the results were segmented by verticals and KPIs, demonstrating the vital role of subtitles on several levels.

Rob Cootes, Director of Video and Programmatic at AdColony, comments: “The research highlights that more and more adverts are being viewed on computers and mobile devices without sound. Brands are tasked with the challenge of producing engaging content that can resonate with consumers, both with or without sound.”

With campaigns wanting to boost the intent to purchase, some adverts enjoyed as much as a 26 percentage point boost in intent to find more content. For one particular technology product campaign, using subtitles to communicate key product features resulted in a 23 percentage point uplift in audience understanding of the core message regarding superior materials and components used.

Subtitled creatives for movie and entertainment campaigns managed a 9.9 percentage points uplift when the KPI was brand awareness, benchmarked against non-subtitled equivalents (with subtitled creative in entertainment experiencing an 18.8 percentage points uplift of brand awareness overall).

Cootes continues: “Many mobile viewers are happy to watch content without listening to it. While this works for sports clips or cats knocking things over, for a visual that depends on an accompanying audio story to be understood, it’s a different matter.

“The research finds that subtitling does work for entertainment and FMCG brands to hit their targets and engage their audience. Imagery is not always enough to help resonate with an adverts message, so being able to communicate in another way can help to get this message across.”

The research concluded that having auto-play audio didn’t overcome the issues around computers and mobile devices being on silent. So, while creative teams or brands might consider subtitles to be intrusive, this is not an issue for the viewer. Brands need to address the campaign goals when creating the advert to identify if subtitling will be an effective tool to get key messages across.

AdColony recently changed its company name from Opera Mediaworks with the goal of unifying the brand, performance and publishing business under a single name, while continuing its commitment to quality mobile advertising experiences that deliver outcomes fuelled by creativity and data science-driven automation and Artificial Intelligence.

About AdColony

AdColony is one of the largest mobile advertising platforms in the world with a reach of more than 1.4 billion users globally. With a mission to elevate the state of mobile advertising by focusing on the highest quality consumer experiences that deliver outcomes for brands and publishers on today’s primetime apps and sites, AdColony is trusted by Fortune 500 brands and more than 85% of the world’s top grossing mobile publishers. Known for our exclusive Instant-Play™ HD video technology, proprietary rich media formats, our global performance advertising business and programmatic marketplace, and our extensive ad SDK footprint in the Top 1000 apps worldwide, we are passionate about helping brands connect with consumers at scale on the most important screen in their lives. A fully-owned subsidiary of Opera ASA, AdColony is a global organization with over 20 offices worldwide.

About Millward Brown

Millward Brown is a leading global research agency specializing in advertising effectiveness, strategic communication, media and brand equity research. Millward Brown operates in more than 55 countries and is part of Kantar, WPP’s data investment management division.

About the research

AdColony partnered with Millward Brown to discover whether videos ads featuring subtitles (or additional descriptive elements) performed any better or worse than ads without such additions, under the assumption both be viewed with the sound off.

Using adverts from Disney, Sony Pictures, Bose and Volvo, the research analysed if this increased uplifts for brand awareness and the impact on its campaign performance data.

Subtitles and descriptives worked for entertainment campaigns, conveying the narrative of the movie when sound is not available and helping brands make an emotional link with the audience. Participating entertainment campaigns enjoyed significantly better uplifts in both brand awareness and viewing intent when utilising subtitled videos.

For FMCG campaigns, subtitled narrative worked to communicate specific benefits and key functions of the product on offer, however failed to provide any significant benefits over non-subtitled video in terms of brand awareness or affinity.