Why am I talking about a rap song in the Video Insider? Right now, I think I'm feeling a little like Jay-Z. We have a trend in online media that needs to be brought to task, discussed and potentially "killed" -- that trend being auto-play video. So at the risk of not being "politically correct" (check the song lyrics), let's talk about why we should think about pronouncing auto-play D.O.A.
Your users hate it. One of the most fascinating things about Twitter is that it gives you the ability to take the pulse of a wide variety of people on any topic. Do a search for "auto-play video" some time and read some of the comments. There are few things that irk a site visitor more than an unannounced blast of video. We've all been there: quietly working, clicking on a link, and then BAM! A sonic boom, music or content that knocks you out of your chair. Not fun. It would be interesting to see a study of "bounce" (abandonment) rates on pages that have auto-play versus ones that do not.
It's not real pre-roll. This is one thing that has been discussed in the Insider before. Some sites not only have a video on a non-dedicated page, but they auto-play pre-roll as well when the page comes up. Pre-roll works when it is a user who (lean-forward-like) elects to commit his time to watch video and devotes his attention to the player. Serving an ad to a user who reaches a page to browse or read an article is not nearly as valuable to the advertiser. Advertisers should ask if their pre-roll will launch on a dedicated player and implement serving trackers to measure ad completions as a further precaution against this, if a site runs auto-play on pages.
It increases the cost of running your site. No matter what the format, running video or audio files every time a user pulls up the site increases the cost to run the business exponentially. That is rumored to be the reason why MySpace.com, the poster child for auto-play everything, pulled the plug on auto-play audio last month. The economics didn't add up.
Those are the more prominent reasons why many think auto-play should be pronounced D.O.A. What does the Video Insider readership think? Is it time to give auto-play a moment of silence, or are there valuable applications for it? Let us know in the comments.