App Developers Shaping Media to Favor Simple, Direct Content

January 5, 2017 - 2 minutes read

Facebook just launched a feature to automatically subtitle videos posted to their platform. Why does this matter for iPhone app developers? It matters because it illustrates that Facebook has successfully brought back the “silent movie,” forcing content creators to cater their wares to the limitations of the platform rather than the other way around.

Following along with silent captioned videos in the Facebook feed has become a standard practice for app users, but it wasn’t always so normal. After all, auto-play for Facebook videos only launched in 2013. Video creators have been fast to adapt, creating compelling videos with custom captions to encourage users to stop scrolling, plug in their headphones, and go full-screen.

Thanks to the phasing out of video-based social network Vine and slowing growth on YouTube and other video platforms, Facebook sees an opportunity to capitalize on users who predominantly consume content via a smartphone, in places where auto-play videos with sound are simply tacky. Automated subtitles makes the switch even easier for content creators, and will likely drive a massive growth in uploaded content, particularly re-purposed content from existing videos from other sources.

On the user’s side, a “generate captions” button simply appears in the admin area when users upload videos. Captions load on the right side of the screen, giving them a chance to correct any errors or awkward wording. (This could also be a chance for subversive users to update recognizable content with humorous lip-synced dialogue.)

NYC app developers have been observing Facebook’s ad revenue reaching saturation when it comes to monetization. Because of this, it’s expected that the company will begin trying to squeeze more money and impressions out of ads rather than simply chasing more accounts. Drawing increased video content to the feed certainly plays into that goal. Balancing that goal with quality non-advertising content will be the developers’ biggest challenge as an increase in video content floods the platform.

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