Are more TV ads being subtitled?

Are more TV ads being subtitled?

As part of Deaf Awareness Week (6th – 12th May) we’re talking about levels of accessible advertising.

We’ve been encouraging the industry for some time to think more about making their ads accessible, because the numbers have been low. We’ve been tracking your intention to subtitle since the start of 2024 and we now have the data to share with you.

Not only do we have a social responsibility to make TV ads available to everyone, but the opportunities to grow and connect to a wider audience if you do, are clear. There are 2 million people with sight loss in the UK and 12 million people with a hearing impairment and brands aren’t reaching these people if their ads aren’t accessible. A 2017 study revealed that brand awareness increased 18% for ads that were subtitled. And let’s not forget that young people are almost four times more likely than older people to use subtitles, despite having fewer hearing problems. Another vast audience.

A year ago we ran our #AdsForAll survey to learn what the barriers were to making ads accessible. We asked about your interest in us tracking levels of accessible ads in order to report these numbers back. This suggestion was backed by 90% of respondents.

We reported in January that we would be changing the subtitle ‘toggle’, which tracks your intention to subtitle your ads in our submissions system, The Library. We changed it to be ‘on’ by default, with the aim to encourage more of you to think about making your ads accessible, rather than just leave the toggle ‘off’ and think nothing more of it.

The time has come for us to publish these figures. As you’ll see from the graphs below, the numbers jumped a little in February but there hasn’t been much change since then in terms of the growth as a percentage of all ads submitted to us.

We hope as more people become aware of the low levels and the ease with which ads can be made accessible, that by the next time we publish the data, we will have even higher numbers to report.

A bar chart showing the difference in those ads that are intended to be subtitled across Q1 of 2024 compared to all ads submitted to clearcast.

Why aren’t more people subtitling their ads?

Let us address some of those barriers that typically get in the way of people not adding Subtitles or Audio Description to their ads.

1. I didn’t think about it

Maybe it’s just never crossed your mind, or it was forgotten at the planning stage and now time is tight. Next time, factor it in to the planning, even before script stage. Talk to your team and your ad delivery provider early about your plans.

2. I don’t know where to start

Our industry partners have been hard at work creating resources to help you understand the process. In October 2023 ISBA and Flock launched ‘REFRAME: Guidance for Marketers on how to incorporate Accessibility into their advertising campaigns’. Thinkbox have a section on their site called ‘Accessible TV advertising’ and Egta have an ‘Ad accessibility’ knowledge hub.

3. Isn’t it expensive?

Maybe it wasn’t budgeted for and your team assume it’s prohibitively expensive. Talk to your ad delivery provider about their fees, you might be surprised. If you deliver your ads with us we can subtitle your ads too.

4. Will it spoil my creative?

Nope! To demystify concerns around the creative being impacted, you could try our accessible ads training, which highlights the options available and shares best practice tips and insights from us as well as RNID (Royal National Institute of the Deaf), and RNIB (Royal National Institute of the Blind).

Please visit the accessibility area of our website for further info on our work around this topic.