Trends & Insights, Video Inspiration

Sound on or sound off? When to give your video a voiceover or a text overlay

Sep 7, 2017


Sound is no longer a priority for most video publishers, but that doesn’t mean it’s completely out of the fold. In February, Facebook said that videos would now autoplay with sound on. It’s a bold step that is sure to please video advertisers, but its impact on views remains to be seen. Facebook is a video goldmine with over 8 billion video views daily and although 85% of Facebook video is watched with sound off, the social media giant is hoping to replicate the success Snapchat has enjoyed. Our studies even show that 87% of Gen Z and 72% of millennials prefer watching videos on their phones with sound on. It’s almost a necessity to use audio to capture audiences. So how do you decide whether your video’s story should be heard or read? Check out these 6 examples that illustrate the best use cases for adding voiceover to a video or implementing video text overlays.


Video voiceovers are perfect for stories that focus on emotion, especially when that emotion is coming from someone important. If someone like Mark Zuckerberg gives a notable speech around a controversial event, there’s a good chance your viewer will turn their sound on to hear it for themselves – so the best way to communicate that information is through voice, as opposed to a lengthy scene with scrolling text. Check out this video produced by the Santa Fe New Mexican on Zuckerberg’s reaction to a Facebook Live murder.

Breaking news: TEXT VIDEO

When it comes to breaking news videos, you should get to the point as fast as possible. Viewers are something that’s easily digestible and skimmable — so in these cases it’s best to assume the sound’s off and let your text and media do the talking. In this video, the New York Daily News created a quick text video to report on the firing of White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon.

Sporting events: VIDEO VOICEOVER

Sports invoke a particular kind of excitement from fans, which makes video voiceovers an attractive option for sports publishers. With fantasy football season in full swing, Rotowire capitalized and used its elite analysis to educate armchair quarterbacks everywhere. Take a look (and listen) at Rotowire’s video on when to draft a quarterback and get ready for football!

Event recaps: TEXT VIDEO

Want to give viewers a glimpse of a story, but not the whole package? 10-second text videos (or as we like to call, Snippets) are the best way to tease a story, without giving away the complete scoop. Revolt TV crafted a simple and elegant Snippet video that really exemplifies how to report news through social media Stories, and also push traffic back to your site.

Product descriptions: VIDEO VOICEOVER

Describing a product through social video is good for brand awareness, but when you need to go into more detail, it helps to have a video voiceover specialist to drive your point home. Voiceover adds a different dimension to product-related videos and creates a commercial-like feel. Check out this example of Motor Trend’s video showing off the 2017 Aston Martin DB9 GT!

Statistics: TEXT VIDEO

Whether your video is covering Wall Street or the New York Yankees, statistics play an important role in storytelling. Stats help support arguments and indicate the performance of an entity. USA Today Sports created a great text-based social video to compare the great home-run hitting of Giancarlo Stanton to other famous hitters in baseball history.