AutoPlay

Is it ever okay?

Once upon a time, in far away place known as ‘the nineties’, every website used autoplay. Clicking on a website and being faced with images and sounds moving in time to one another was cutting edge stuff. It engaged us and it definitely didn’t annoy us. Back then computers were loud, but they were exciting to. The tense AOL dial up tone, the thrilling “You’ve Got Mail’ announcement, the riveting sound of a CD-Rom being read.

But… Hello, 21st century! Technology and the internet has changed dramatically. We’ve moved on from those things, so why are we still using autoplay? Is it still engaging for visitors? Or, it just outdated?

Cons:

Firstly, it’s annoying. People multitask a lot these days and it’s extremely likely that each visitor will have multiple tabs open, not to mention they will probably be playing their own music. The moment you blare out lots of audio you completely wreck their ability to navigate and they end up frustratingly scrambling through their tabs to find the right window, most probably just so they can close it.

Secondly, it’s intrusive. Visitors have set expectations of how they like to browse websites, they want to stay in control. They could be at work, in a public place, or in a quiet area, so what gives you the right to play a video as soon as they click on your website? It’s not fair to assume everybody wishes to hear it.

Thirdly, it’s costly. Visitors won’t be happy if they are faced with several megabytes of unrequested audio and video while using 3G, you could be costing them money. This will give you a bad name and prevent them from ever visiting your website again.

Finally, it’s not actually working as well as you think. Autoplay videos give you a play rate of 100%, meaning every time somebody visits your website it is being reorded as being watched. Although that might sound great, in reality you have no idea how many people are actually watching your video, making it kind of pointless. Also, seeing as most people shut down a website as soon as they are faced with autoplay you could be hurting your own bounce rate, making Google less likely to rank your site high on a search results page.

In a study of B2B buyer’s opinions of various website elements, 93% listed autoplaying video or audio as annoying.

Pros:

Firstly, it works! Although a lot of people are closing tabs immediately, the rest of us will surprisingly watch the video. Autoplay has proven so popular that a lot of social media channels have recently adopted the feature. Facebook tested autoplay back in 2013, and they saw an immediate increase in the amount of video being watched. Twitter announced it would start using the feature in June 2015, because they wanted to make videos easier to watch on Twitter.

Secondly, we love video. It’s actually only the sound part that annoys us. The reason autoplay videos are popular on social media is because viewers can engage with the video first and then decide if they want sound by tapping or clicking the video. This means you can create videos that will engage viewers, but will be subtle and less intrusive.

Verdict:

Autoplays aren’t as bad as everyone thinks. They do encourage more people to watch your video, however you might get an unrealistic statistic about how many people are actually choosing to watch your video and overall this could damage your bounce rate. We advise people to really think about what they want to achieve before they post a video. However, whenever you do choose to use autoplay we would strongly suggest keeping the sound turned off!


Originally published at www.doubleshot.tv.

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