I don’t like change. I huff whenever I sit down at a restaurant and discover their menu is different. And I don’t mean the menu items, I mean the layout. I pout every time books made into movies are missing my favorite parts. And don’t even talk to me about Felicity (aka Keri Russell) cutting her hair. Why, just whyyyyy?

So, you can imagine how much I love all the changes that pop up on social media platforms. I know I wasn’t the only one up in arms about the Snapchat stories redesign, but today I want to talk about Facebook. Specifically, video ads. Sorry Mark, I know it’s been a rough couple weeks for ya, but at least you can cry into your billions.


Facebook ads started out in 2004 as dinky banners and flyers that sat off to the side. And of course, back then the audience was still college kids, so you may have seen an ad for summer camp or moving services. Check out one of the first ever ads below!

Pretty crazy right? Who would have ever thought that not much more than a decade later marketers would be able to choose from carousel ads, canvas ads and even video? And that some of those marketers would include way bigger players than local moving services. But with great power comes great responsibility. And rules.

We may all be familiar with the ever-changing rules on non-video ads. No text. 20% text. All the text you want. Back to 20% text. The constant on again off again is like being in the middle of the Selena Gomez and Justin Bieber saga. Even here at VIRGEN | Digital Brand Marketing - where it’s our job to know this stuff - we have debates about the rules of the month all the time. Our latest dispute was regarding text on video, hence this blog. So, to help you keep the peace within your office, I’m going to break down the Dos and Don’ts of text on video ads on Facebook, as of the date of this posting. Some of these will be more best practices than official rules, but as we all know, best practices change too. Here we go:


Use Text

Text helps tell a story. It partners with the images to engage your consumer and take them along on the magical journey you have prepared for them. I’m a writer so words are kinda my thing; however, design is also key here. Every letter needs to have an impact, or your audience is outta there, so play with dynamic text treatments and make it impossible for them to look away.


Use more than 20% text

This is where our internal dispute began, and it all came down to semantics. The rules on Facebook’s official website state that the thumbnail image can only be 20% text, like their non-video counterpart. To some of us that clearly meant the rest of the video was free to have as much text as our word-happy hearts desired. To others, it was glaringly obvious that it meant every frame could only have 20% text.

So who was right? The latter folks. The 20% text rule applies to every frame on video, not just the thumbnail. However, if you decide to be a rebel and push your 20% limit, your ad will either not run or get a very limited reach. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule. Text in product images, albums covers and book covers do not count toward the 20%.


Use captions

Analytics show that 85% of all Facebook videos are watched on mute and that videos with captions get 12% more engagement than videos without. I totally believe it. I don’t need the entire Trader Joe’s checkout line to know I’m, I mean a friend of mine, is watching a tutorial on removing facial hair using raw honey. If there aren’t captions, I scroll right on by. Captions can easily be turned on or off in Ads Manager and they don’t count as text on your video ad. Woot. Woot.

With video still sitting high on its throne as the king of content it’s more important than ever to stay on top of how to makes yours reign. Or you can let VIRGEN | Digital Brand Marketing do it for you.