Autoplay is here to stay
And there’s nothing we can do about it.
Remember pop-up ads? You know, the often-ugly, generally annoying pages that took up your entire desktop and kept you from viewing the content you actually wanted to see? The same things ad blocker extensions were developed for?
Well, despite our best efforts to get rid of them, they’re still here; just in a different form. Don’t believe me? Try scrolling through your Facebook feed and going ve posts without encountering a video that’s already running. The Scourge of Autoplay Autoplay videos are this generation’s pop-up ads, and they’re more disruptive than ever as we steadily transition from websites to mobile apps. Take Facebook for example. They started inserting autoplay videos into your newsfeed as early as 2013, and while they’ve taken some backlash from users since then; don’t seem to have any intent on removing them in the least.
All they’ve done is to offer options to restrict the “service” to Wi-Fi connections only, and to mute the videos by default. And that’s only after the uproar from users after they found that their recently updated Facebook app was causing them to exceed their monthly cellular data allowance.
Needless to say, Facebook-owned Instagram has autoplay videos too. Twitter and many other social networks with apps have followed suit. In fact, the promise of autoplay videos is so great even Google is looking into get into the mix, with autoplay videos served together with your search results! Search and be served According to search specialist site The SEM Post, the search engine giant is starting to experiment with autoplay videos in their knowledge panel feature.
This, despite the fact that they’ve just announced that they’re releasing an extension for Chrome specically built to block them. Anyone else see the irony here? Playing along the guidelines of “Better Ad Standards”, Google’s videos initially play without sound though you will have the option to enable that manually. They also don’t repeat themselves unless you click to replay, which may be why Google doesn’t consider them to be intrusive.
In a statement released to
Search Engine Land, Google has only said that they are “constantly experimenting with ways to improve the search experience for our users, but have no plans to announce at this time”, so we could just take it to be a harmless experiment.
But why try? Why ignore the years of research that says that consumers really, really hate ads with autoplay video or audio? Because with the pickup in mobile browsing; most of our internet surng is done via app rather than a proper browser. And that’s where autoplay video has you trapped. Autoplay’s siren call When an autoplay video appears in your social media feed, there’s no pop-up window to close. You can’t really tell if it’s sponsored content or a video posted by a regular user either. And that’s perfect - if you’re an advertiser. Do it well, and your ad will be shared like any other regular video, giving you more coverage. Think Google doesn’t want a piece of that pie?
As great as Google is, the shift away from nding information via a traditional browser to getting it from social network feeds (and their respective apps) must be hurting their reach (and ad sales). So any chance to pull sales back – even if it means temporarily offending regular users – must be explored.
And besides, what competition does Google have? If you don’t like it, you can always use their extension to block it. Hero and villain; all in one. Don’t know about you, but that doesn’t sit well with us. And we certainly don’t approve of autoplay video in any way, shape or form.
It’s the virtual equivalent of stufng food down your throat. You don’t appreciate that happening in real life, so why should you let advertisers do that to you online? Companies like Facebook and Google may think they’re too big for you to move away from now, but it wasn’t that long ago that they were small companies too, living in the shadows of MySpace and Yahoo.