Why Autoplay & Scroll-To-Play is the Best Way

The first introduction of autoplay may be attributed to the now-defunct Vine, but it wasn’t until Facebook adopted the format a year later (and the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge started popping up in our feeds) that autoplay started getting the industry-wide attention it deserved. Now, another four years later, autoplay has become the standard video format on every social feed, and most major publishers have followed suit on their own websites. However, “autoplay” is a bit of a broad term. Scroll-to-play, the type of autoplay that is common on social platforms, will autoplay a video once it arrives on screen, and will stop once a user scrolls past to allow for the next video to play. But on many publishers’ sites, a video will autoplay as soon as a page loads — so it may not be seen if it isn’t placed above the fold. Publishers need to do everything in their power to make their website’s content as valuable as possible to both advertisers and their audience. That means placing players above the fold, creating relevant video content, and, for the following reasons, setting them to autoplay and scroll-to-play:

Ensure quality viewable views

Implementing videos that play automatically once they arrive on a user’s screen is the best way to ensure a website’s video views are actually, well, viewable (a.k.a. in-view for at least 2 seconds). Twitter’s shift to autoplay video was in direct response to the ad industry’s call for better viewability — in fact, the release of their viewability standards was announced on the exact same day. This gave big brands like Heineken greater incentive to advertise on the platform. According to Heineken’s Ron Amram, “Viewability is one of the key drivers that make or break the effectiveness and ROI of any campaign, and we need to partner with platforms [like Twitter] who understand this.”

Increase value of site real estate

The more that a publisher’s in-stream video content is considered viewable, the more premium ad dollars those videos will attract, especially when that content is relevant to their audience’s interests. When Bloomberg Media decided to set only their most relevant, complementary in-stream video content to scroll-to-play, even when their overall unique visitors declined slightly, they were still able to triple their amount of unique video viewersand fetch $75 CPMs.

Improve audience engagement, retention, and memory

It’s obvious that autoplay videos do a much better job at grabbing a user’s attention than click-to-play videos, but can they hold their attention long enough to count as a viewable view, or even watch to completion? While it’s a common argument that autoplay may dissuade users from watching, it’s actually proven to be quite the opposite: Facebook’s autoplay videos generated a 10% overall increase in views, likes, shares, and comments, and Twitter’s saw a 7x increase in completion rate and 14% lift in video recall over other video formats.

Better user experience

Another common concern with autoplay is its affect on user experience. This has also been debunked — according to the IAB, 79% of millennials actually find autoplay videos to be convenient, and Twitter found people were 2.5X more likely to prefer autoplay videos over other viewing methods including click-to-play and video preview thumbnails. A large majority of publishers’ audiences are coming from social media, where scroll-to-play is now the norm. So as long as you’re creating video content that aligns with their interests, then it’s actually a better user experience to have it playing for them as soon as they arrive.

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