Closed Captioning, A Missed Opportunity On TV Commercials.

I recently started dating someone who is deaf.  When we watch tv or a movie I have to turn on the Closed Captioning so that we can both enjoy it.  The one thing I never really thought of or realized until the other week was that many advertisers do not use Closed Captioning on their TV commercials.  There may be a reason for it but what I don’t get is why they wouldn’t want to play their message to everyone who is watching.  To me it seems like a huge missed opportunity.  Its kind of fun, turn on your TV and look to see if your commercials have closed captioning on them and which advertisers don’t.  It is kind of shocking.

The main take away from this post is that if you produce on-site video for your website or blog, make sure you add in captions so that you don’t miss out on a large group of potential customers.  Read more below about why.

You watch commercials for banks but only see happy families in a field having a picnic.  Deaf people use banks as well but have no clue what is happening in the commercial or why it is relevant because the only thing they see are people sitting down and having a picnic.  At the end they see the bank’s logo but missed the entire message.  Chuck E Cheese’s is a great place for kids, but deaf kids don’t hear the call to action “Tell Your Parents” and instead may sit there watching while some mouse runs rampant while kids go crazy having thousands of tickets fall on them.  They weren’t able to get the message that Chuck E Cheese’s gives away thousands of free tickets each day.  I was going to bring up feminine products but I think those are self explanatory on giving the wrong impression.  Previews for new TV shows are lost to deaf audiences because they don’t get to see what the show is about and all commercials for prescriptions that forget captions on the benefits and only show them at the end, no matter how helpful the pill seems, become the worst products on earth because the only captions are the drug’s warnings.  Advertisers have to be insane to spend millions on tv ads and miss an entire group of people with their messages.  It isn’t just the deaf that are missing out though.

Sports bars that turn the volume off and leave the captions on don’t get the effect of your messaging because the patrons can only see the images.  People sitting in waiting rooms or at the airport who are a bored and are a captive audience don’t get your message either because you forgot to add in captions.  Whats worse is you had a group’s full attention and missed out.  Getting a captive audience who actually pays attention is almost impossible.  Because you have this audience, why miss out on getting your message across to all of them?  Lets talk about how this is relevant to you.

If you shoot or produce video content for your website, remember to include an option to have captions.  If someone who is deaf or doesn’t have speakers on their computer comes across your site, why wouldn’t you want them to hear what you felt was important enough to shoot a video for?  Sure you have copy around the video to explain it and pitch your product, but if you can show what you are saying while someone is using a product or what you are saying and that person can picture you saying it, you may make a stronger impact.

Video is huge right now and it is important to ensure that you can get it seen and understood by as many people as possible if you want the maximum reach of your ads.  By adding in captions or an option to turn captions on you have now increased the reach of your message to your audience by including deaf people.  This could also give you an advantage above your competitors if they are not remembering to include these groups of people.  Always try to think ahead with your media and who you may be excluding from your messaging.  If you can do something to include audiences other people may not have remembered to include, you have now created a site that may be even more user friendly and can generate more interest by including everyone.

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Comments

  1. Deaf people are not the only people that use the captions. Many people use them because they have trouble hearing some things on television, get tired of how loud commericals are, others are in the room (possibly sleeping or on the phone) or they are listening to something else and reading the captions.

    When advertisers consider the missed opportunity I recommend they consider all the other people who choose to turn captions on. When I make time to watch anything on TV more often than not I turn the captions on.

    It is disappointing how many quality programs and movies do not have captioning. I hope more shows and movies make adding captions – or improving the quality as many are very poor – a higher priority.
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