Publishers, Please Do A Better Job With Auto-Play Video Content

Back in December, I was scrolling around on my computer, and I realized just how often there were auto-play video ads and content launched on the pages I was visiting. 

Auto-play video by itself is not that bad, as consumers have become accustomed to seeing it.  The challenge is when you have multiple auto-play video spots on a single page, and they start competing with one another.  That gets cluttered and annoying very quickly.

We really need to be sure we are hyper-focused on the consumer experience in digital advertising.

Auto-play video happens on both desktop and mobile.   Video has become the most important arrow in the quiver of a digital publisher, both for surfacing content as well as generating revenue.  Video runs in the display units, as well as allowing a space for pre-, mid- and post-roll to run in video content. 

I like video, so I’m not getting all curmudgeonly around video for the sake of it.  I’m concerned because as with all good things in digital media, we find something that works well, and we completely overuse it to the point where its value diminishes directly correlative to its annoyance factor. 



One possible solution would be for the Interactive Advertising Bureau, Nielsen or Comscore or some other relatively benign third party to offer a media buyers’ grade for sites that leverage video, which would help buyers understand the consumer-oriented impact of video on the page. 

There would have to be a different score for desktop vs mobile because the real estate you have to work with is simply larger on the desktop and can allow for more video to be leveraged. But a mobile environment should never have multiple video units overlapping and shielding the view of the user to engage with content. 

Routinely when I click on a news story from Apple News, I am delivered to a publisher who is employing multiple popover units with video. Mobile publishers are known for having ads that are ultra-sensitive and will play audio at the merest hint of a click or tap. 

As a marketer, I would want to know if publishers have a jarring and less-than-desirable mobile experience where my ads are simply going to become an annoyance for the user. 

On a desktop environment, the issue appears less often, but it does appear.  As an example, in December I was on a CNN page and was hit with multiple videos playing with auto-audio, all competing with one another.  I did not click them, but audio was still playing.  I assume this was a glitch because I haven’t had it happen since then, but the experience stood out to me because it was on such a reputable site. 

Auto-play video is not to be taken for granted, and auto-play audio should never happen.  Consumers pay more attention than one might originally think to these kinds of negative experiences.

Some form of a media-buyers grade would help determine if you are placing your media dollars in an environment that is beneficial to your brand or not.  It’s not a fraud grade or a content grade. It would be a grade that allows you to suppress or focus on sites through a programmatic buy based on their grade for viewer experience.

When you go direct, it would give you a better understanding of what that experience is like -- and it could be reflected in the CPM as well, with better experiences having a higher price tag. Publishers inherently do that now, but it is implied rather than stated as fact. 

A media buyers experience grade could be valuable in helping to hold accountable the publishers, both desktop and mobile, who abuse the technology -- and, conversely, reward the publishers who think in terms of experience first and revenue second.

I may be asking a lot, and inevitably someone will respond below and tell me this score exists.  If you know a company that truly offers this, let us know in the comments.  I haven’t seen something like this from an impartial source, but would love to know it does exist.

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