The case against having videos auto-play on your sites is pretty simple: it’s inconsiderate.
First, there’s the jarring experience of suddenly having audio and moving images appear unexpectedly. You also have the possible embarrassment if you are in public with the volume up too loud, on a “quiet carriage” OR at work messing around on Social media.
There are other technical things too, like bandwidth caps, battery life and mobile data limits.
The content itself can be an issue as well (especially if as the site owner you don’t have full control over the content). One extreme example is when graphic news footage is automatically shown (NB link does NOT have anything graphic in it).
That doesn’t mean that there isn’t a market for it though, and it’s a pretty big one. All sorts of major companies are now pushing auto-playing videos on their visitors as part of their basic web design; especially in America. For example:
You’ll get a forced highlight package video if you want to read a sports recap on ESPN, ABC (along with countless local news sites) forces you to watch their broadcast clips when you click on what looks like a traditional text story link. Social media services like Facebook and Twitter set auto-play to “on” by default.
Australian news sites tend to be less intrusive with both traditional news sites like the Sydney Morning herald and digital only sites like News.com.au making it really clear before you click on a link that there is a video waiting on the other side.
The case for auto-playing video is equally simple: it drives up views and makes money on the aggregate.
Companies do a risk-reward analysis of customer irritation vs. how much extra revenue or engagement they’ll see, and decide it’s worth annoying some percentage of their user base to make more off the rest.
A consumer study conducted by Ask Your Target Market in 2014 found that though 53% of respondents disliked auto-playing videos and only 15% felt positive toward them, only 17% actually bother to change their settings to stop the auto-play. As with television advertising, it seems users will tend to at least sit through it even if they don’t like it and not abandon the site entirely.
My own totally non-scientific research says that silent video is “ok” for the most part and the REAL issue is the sound associated with the video.
Auto-playing video is always a gamble, especially when it comes to advertising. It’s usually more well-received under the following conditions:
Additionally, it is crucial for such videos to not automatically play with audio. Users will generally not disengage from a site just because of an unexpected video. However, an internal Facebook study found that a full 80% of users became hostile to both the advertiser and the platform when videos automatically played sound as well. Not surprising, especially when you think about all the people on Facebook at the office…
Personally I usually recommend to err on the side of user experience. So unless you run a news or video site or have some other REALLY good reason to auto-play video I say leave the choice in your visitors control.
Do you have more questions about using video on your site, or how to grow your business by bringing in more search traffic? eSense Web Design builds professional, SEO-optimised sites as well as advising on inbound marketing and branding efforts. Contact us with any questions or to learn more about our services.
What could you do if your business simply… worked?