It’s Time for Autoplay Video to Finally Die

Plenty of websites, news agencies especially, seem to love shoving autoplay videos in their audience’s faces. Here’s why that’s a bad thing.

If you’re thinking of including autoplay video on your site, don’t. 

It doesn’t matter how many media sites are doing it. It doesn’t matter that you just recently saw a video automatically start playing on a publication like CNN.  It doesn’t matter how many marketing ‘professionals’ claim that autoplay is a good thing.

It’s not, and it never will be.

Imagine, if you would, that you’re visiting a bookstore to purchase the latest novel from your favorite author. The moment you walk in the door, one of the store’s employees walks up to you and gets uncomfortably close to your face. They then immediately begin screaming about all the exciting items that are currently on sale, about how good the new book is, about how much they appreciate your visit.

That’s essentially what you’re doing to your audience if you impose any sort of autoplay media on them. 

Autoplay video is not going to generate more leads. It’s not going to compel people to visit your site more frequently. And it’s not going to do your position on the search engine results page (SERP) any favors. 

Instead, it’s going to alienate your audience for multiple reasons.

  • Frustration and surprise. Someone searching for an article on Google wants to read an article. They don’t want to immediately have their eardrums split apart by a video played at 100% volume.  As such many of them likely won’t even stick around to finish reading — they’ll simply bounce. 
  • Poor compatibility. Not everyone has a browser capable of supporting automatic media, and many people are likely visiting your site on mobile devices. This means that a good portion of your audience might end up finding your site completely unusable. 
  • A lack of respect. Are your readers listening to or watching something else when they browse? Are they using a screen reader or other similar software? Shoving a video in their faces the moment they access your site sends the clear message that you honestly don’t care. 
  • Spam-adjacent. You may recall that Google has long since disavowed intrusive ads featuring sound, video, or obnoxious animations. Autoplay video is arguably just one step removed from this kind of media. 
  • Out of touch. News sites are the most frequent offenders where autoplay is concerned.  The same organizations are bleeding money, using paywalls, and attempting to harvest customer data in direct violation of regulations like the GDPR. Do you really want to follow their lead on this? 

Autoplay video is a remnant of a bygone era on the Internet. It’s intrusive, annoying, and disrespectful to your audience. And 90% of the time, it adds nothing of value for your readers.

We’re not saying you should avoid using videos altogether. Video content can be immensely valuable if leveraged properly. What we’re saying is that you need to give your visitors a choice.Allow them to play the video if they want to see it, and ignore it if they don’t — because ultimately, their experience matters more than what you think they might want to see.

Author: Terry Cane

Terry Cane is a technical writer for SEOHost.net, a reliable and supportive SEO hosting partner.