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How to Optimize Videos for Silence

By: Elaine Fogel


Content creator using modern software for video post production

Advances in communication technology and ever-changing user trends force digital marketers to adapt and adjust marketing strategies to match consumer needs and preferences. Videos embedded on websites and social media networks, with billions of active users, are designed to reach massive audiences and make videos the most effective way to get consumers’ attention and compel them to act.

Recent statistics to show the impact and power of marketing and internal communication videos in the digital age include:

  • Upwards of 1 million minutes of video content is viewed globally on the internet every second
  • Videos posted on YouTube have the potential to reach nearly 2 billion internet users that watch video content
  • 72% of consumers use video content to learn about products and services
  • Videos feature a 95% retention rate, compared to 10% for text-only content
  • 78% of online users view videos every week, 55% watch videos online daily

As online video viewing continues to increase across all marketing and communication platforms, it is more essential than ever to include a video component in comprehensive digital marketing strategies. To maximize the power of video, marketers must adapt to technology advances that impact consumer trends and purchasing habits. An essential change in the way users view video content is the rising trend of watching online videos with the sound down or completely off.

Why Produce Silent Video Content?

In the digital age, everyone is walking around with their faces buried in cell phones, tablets, and other mobile devices. These devices are being used to watch online videos with staggering frequency every year.

When people watch videos on the go, or when other people are around, they will often view content with the sound down or off. Videos are also often viewed in stealth mode while in a meeting or when the viewer is supposed to be working or studying. This user trend forced marketers to get creative and produce video content that is as engaging and informative without the sound up as it is with audio.

Industry experts are anticipated that by 2023, over 2.2 billion people across the globe will be watching online videos through mobile devices. As it stands now, the majority of Facebook video views are done with the sound down or off.

Optimization Techniques for Silent Video Viewing

Social media networks have adapted to viewer trends and habits by auto-playing video on mute. Users must click on the video to get the audio component of the content. This move was a direct response to their users watching more videos with the sound off.

Digital marketers and video production teams have taken notice and have developed creative ways to deliver marketing messaging and valuable information through engaging and compelling videos that are as effective muted as they are with sound. This puts the focus squarely on the visuals to draw viewers in and present the information and message in the most compelling ways to help reach your marketing goals and objectives.

The following are ways to use the power of video to produce marketing videos that are optimized for silent viewing:

Attention Grabbers

The opening frames of videos are the most important digital real estate to draw viewers in and get their attention. With so many videos that begin playing in silent mode on social media, the visuals need to carry the day and compel viewers to keep watching. Consumers with short attention spans, will typically only give the content a few precious seconds to make an impact significant enough to resist moving onto the next video.

Large, Bold Visuals

Large images, fast motion edits, and animation are used to get and maintain viewer interest. With more users viewing online video on the small screens of their smartphones without the sound up, visuals are their own to grab the viewers’ attention. They need to be bold and clear to keep the viewer interested enough to watch until the end.


Once thought of as an unnecessary annoyance for foreign films, using subtitles and captioning on modern digital marketing videos is a widely accepted technique for content viewed on the go and without sound. Talking heads, dialogue, and voiceovers can easily be communicated to soundless viewers through text that runs at the bottom of the screen. This allows all viewers to better absorb and retain the critical information that is being delivered.

Shorter Length

Viewer attention span is at an all-time low. The length of videos plays a significant role in online users’ decision-making process for the content they consume. With so many choices, most online video viewers will not last more than 30 seconds. Those viewers that view videos with the sound down or off are watching on the go or incognito and have even less time to invest. Videos optimized for silent viewing need to be short, concise, and to the point.

News Style

An effective technique to get more social media users to watch your video content is to have it blend into the platform where it is being posted. A native advertising approach will give your videos more credibility and present the content as a legitimate source for information. News-style content is recognized by Google and other search engines with a higher priority.


Animation has been captivating and engaging audiences since the earliest days of 2D imagery. Saturday morning cartoons once dominated the medium that is now used to produce animated content for major motion pictures, music videos, television commercials, and a wide range of digital marketing applications. Animation is also a great communicator of information without having to use sound.


The key to producing video content without the sound is to create visuals that speak for themselves through action and motion. Silent movies of the past showed how to entertain and engage without spoken dialogue and audio elements.

Digital marketers of today can tell a story and deliver information in much the same way as Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin once did, using visual cues, gestures, and facial expressions. Bold graphics and calls to action help present your message and conversion points, but it is the visuals that do the heavy lifting.

Silent Videos Make Noise for Marketing Strategies
The main goal of producing and distributing marketing videos is to connect with the largest groups of potential customers possible. Now that so much of the video content viewed online is done with the sound off, the message and information being delivered must be able to be absorbed and retained using exclusively visual elements. It is an approach that will attract modern users that watch a lot of videos without turning up the sound.

Creating video content that is designed for silent viewing offers the chance for greater viewer engagement, increased viewing time, and improved conversion and bounce rates for your website, social media assets, and other digital properties. While there are significant numbers of viewers that watch online videos with the sound down, plenty of viewers still watch with the audio on. The key is to produce marketing videos that are equally as effective and compelling with the sound on and off.


Author: Torrey Tayenaka is the co-founder and CEO at Sparkhouse, an Orange County-based video production agency. He is often asked to contribute expertise in publications like EntrepreneurSingle Grain, and Forbes. Sparkhouse is known for transforming video marketing and advertising into real conversations. Rather than hitting the consumer over the head with blatant ads, Sparkhouse creates interesting, entertaining, and useful videos that enrich the lives of his clients’ customers. In addition to Sparkhouse, Torrey has also founded the companies Eva Smart Shower, Litehouse, and Forge54.

Published: October 27, 2020

Source: Reprinted with permission by Elaine Fogel

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