More sites employing auto-play video ads

By Cory Bergman 

I’m curious what everyone thinks about the increasing practice of automatically playing video with a pre-roll ad when you visit a media site’s home page. Visit ABC.com for an example, and ESPN.com has a different twist on it. As more sites sell out of traditional pre-roll inventory, there’s an increasing pressure to consider auto-playing ads on either home pages or section pages, which can drive up ad impressions astronomically overnight. Of course, there’s the annoyance factor which can frustrate and drive users away. And there’s the probability that advertisers won’t pay as high as a CPM in this environment because it wasn’t triggered by an attentive user (and what happens if a user mutes it, does the ad still count?) I’m certainly not advocating auto-play ads on news pages, but what about entertainment or weather or sports? Or will the user backlash ultimately outweigh the financial benefits?

Adds Ed in comments: “When we did our last round of user testing and focus groups, the #1 complaint was autostarting video and audio. The users said that they were afraid they’d get caught looking at websites during work.”

Adds SS in comments: “I’ve used auto-play before for both promotional use and ads. They work and drive traffic well to the promoted sections. After using them for 6 months plus saw no backlash from users. Numbers didn’t drop, the world didn’t end and no hate mail came pouring in. It’s a good idea, but be smart about it. Don’t put up loud annoying clips. Make it interesting and don’t just slap up any old commercial.”

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