Hijacking Your Customer’s Computer Audio is Considered Rude
We’ve all been there. You’re sitting at work, you click on a website or a link, a video starts blasting over your speakers and you go into a frenzy trying to exit the site, turn down your volume, mute the video, or anything to make the video stop.
The benefit of autoplaying a video on your site for you is clear — you grab the customer’s attention. But are you grabbing it in a way they will find helpful? Some folks may sit and watch the video. But studies suggest that a lot of folks are going to either start hunting (quickly) for a pause or volume button and many may leave simply because they don’t feel it’s worth their time to even do that. Why do I have any desire to continue researching a company that disrespected me in the first two seconds of our relationship? In a paid campaign this is an especially severe penalty because not only are you paying for traffic and potentially losing a large percent of them because of something under your control, but you’re also impacting the quality score of your web property on AdWords which could end up making your clicks more expensive and lower your placement on the search engine results page.
If you have videos on your website that autoplay, you could potentially lose a customer. Yes, people are looking for your content but that doesn’t follow that they want to watch your video — don’t try to rationalize that you are any different from any of those other sites and that these subtle differences make you any different from anyone else that auto-plays a video. Playing a video with audio — especially in a work environment — is considered disrespectful (i.e., you are more important that they are and you didn’t consider their feelings before hijacking their computer’s audio without their permission).
When I go to this story about Chapman, I may or may not see a 15-second commercial autoplayed before they continue to the story. I went to this page because I’m interested in baseball and the Yankees. No different than your site except that A) I went to that page with a reasonable expectation that they would show me video regardless of my preferences, and B) their commercial is only 15 seconds.
If you’re still hung up on autoplaying videos on your side, an easy solution would be to add text to it that gives you a hint as to what’s coming. Overlaying a countdown with a title like “You’re just seconds away from learning how we’re going to transform your business technology” may actually build anticipation/interest in the video. This gives the viewer enough time to comprehend that a video is coming, and then make a decision as to whether they want to watch the video, pause it, adjust their volume, etc. You would only want to do this on your website or landing page. You wouldn’t per say use this tactic on YouTube, where videos are expected to play automatically.
In this situation, it is better to play it safe. Not autoplaying a video will never be considered rude or annoying. It is universally accepted in the industry that autoplaying a video may carry severe penalties including increasing bounce rates, and reduced time on site. If it is that important to you, you should give your viewers a warning as to what is coming.