Facebook turned off the mute button on videos.
Under pressure to get the sound up from marketers and advertisers, the social network now says videos will automatically play with sound on. Of course, the videos will only be heard if people have their phone volume turned up.
However, it’s a big change for Facebook, which pioneered videos that autostart in the News Feed, a format that had been an internet no-no in many people’s minds. The saving grace was that the videos typically didn’t have sound unless people tapped the volume icon.
“Videos in News Feed have previously played silently — you tap on a video to hear sound,” Facebook said in a blog post on Tuesday. “As people watch more video on phones, they’ve come to expect sound when the volume on their device is turned on.
“After testing sound on in News Feed and hearing positive feedback, we’re slowly bringing it to more people,” the blog post said. “With this update, sound fades in and out as you scroll through videos in News Feed, bringing those videos to life.”
Facebook announced the format change while also launching its smart TV app. The social network confirmed it would have an app on Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Samsung Smart TV, and other platforms.
Facebook has faced more competition from platforms for advertising dollars, especially their mobile video ad budgets. However, advertisers are more attracted to places that can provide a sound-on experience. Snapchat has boasted that 70% of its video ads play with sound on.
Facebook advertisers had been seeing rates where sometimes 80% of videos were viewed on mute. The soundless experience had forced advertisers to get creative with Facebook video, rethinking the first three seconds of their spots to capture attention with the volume off.
They also began incorporating heavy text overlays to explain the videos.
More sound could bring advertising back to a more traditional space on Facebook, closer to television where sound is as important as the visuals.
Just last week, Facebook also updated how it would measure video ads, including telling advertisers how often they played with sound.
Facebook users will still have the ability to adjust settings to prevent the videos from automatically starting with sound on.
Tuesday’s video update included other tweaks, too. Facebook said it improved how vertical videos are displayed inside its app, and it now would offer the ability to watch a Facebook video while scrolling on to other content.