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Auto-Play Video: Worst Idea Ever

Auto-Play Video: Worst Idea Ever

As a matter of principle, I try to avoid any website in the future that’s shoved an auto-play video (usually with audio enabled!) into my face while trying to access their content. Whether it’s an ad, a promo, or whatever — I don’t care.

The choice of whether I want to play a video on my computer is mine and mine alone. A publisher who takes that choice away from me is not a publisher I want to grace in the future.

So why is auto-play video such a bad idea? Here are 5 good reasons.

Why your auto-play video sucks.

  1. I’ve chosen to click on a link to read something on your website. I’ve invested my time in checking out what you’ve published. Why in god’s name would you think I’d be interested in suspending my attention for what it is I’ve come for, to instead watch your video? You’re basically telling me that your decision about my time and attention is more important than my decision. I’m just eyeballs to you. No customer wants to feel like they’re just a set of eyeballs (even when they are).
  2. You don’t know where I’m accessing your content from. It could be from work, from a quiet library, from my mobile device (that you failed to detect). Why do you assume it’s okay to blast audio from my device without my permission?
  3. If you failed to detect my mobile device and are playing a video (or you just don’t care and are serving the video ad to every mobile user), you’ve just upped my data usage by like 1000x for trying to read 16k of static text. Thanks for stupidly assuming everyone is on some sort of unlimited data plan.
  4. Online behavior is largely goal-directed — I’m trying to find something, learn something, be entertained, or expand my knowledge. I don’t mind paying for that content via typical online advertising — which is decidedly passive (like most content, unless I choose to browse more interactive content). But a video takes me away from my goal-directed behavior and interrupts the flow. Advertisers that are dumb don’t understand this frustrates — and in some cases, angers — people. Congratulations! Now your advertising brand, product, service or messaging has a distinctive negative connotation.
  5. “But it works — we get more clicks with such videos!” Unless you’ve done an actual controlled study with a focus group, I strongly suspect you’re getting more clicks from your auto-play video because people are desperately trying to stop it, mute it or turn it off.

Auto-play video is one of the current evils of the Internets. Please do not engage and promote such evil in your own work.



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