may finally stop scaring visitors

I remember one of the first stories I ever wrote about advertising, five years ago, came out of a speech by Google CEO Eric Schmidt telling advertisers to “stop scaring users” with intrusive ads. That message fell on deaf ears, obviously. One of the more disturbing aspects of the full-on embrace of Internet advertising is the auto-play commercial. Among sports fans, was notorious for blaring ads at people when they landed on the page. (One blogger recently posted instructions on how to fiddle with your browser to block the video, earning him the title of “American hero” by commenters.) If people want to watch video, wouldn’t they just hit the play button? An ESPN exec once told me thy knew the auto-play ads annoyed people but they couldn’t give up the revenue. (Lucky advertiser that pays for a three-second impression that scares the bejesus out of people.) But ESPN is now apparently changing its tune, with new editor-in-chief Rob King planning to get rid of the auto-play feature.

—Posted by Brian Morrissey