Websites are 'overusing autoplay' on online video ads: report

It has become a standard feature on many websites: online video ads that immediately start playing, some with sound, others silent, as soon as a user lands on a page. And it's not about to change soon, unless "viewability standards" set by a committee made up of various advertising councils, such as the Internet Advertising Bureau, are changed.

"Sites are overusing autoplay, and it reflects badly on the whole online video industry," said Streaming Media author Troy Dreier in an article reposted by

Dreier noted that there has been a rise in autoplay video ads on websites that have an article on the main page, often set next to the article either above or below the fold (the portion of the page viewable on screen without scrolling). He believes that because of a "ridiculous" viewability standard--only 50 percent of an ad's pixels need to be visible for just 2 seconds to count as an impression--websites are incentivized to enable autoplay regardless of whether or not it annoys the user. "Having such a low viewability standard encourages sites to slide video ads in everywhere it can, regardless of whether the viewer came to that page for a video or an article," he wrote.

One of the members of the committee that hammered out the viewability standard, Tal Chalozin of Innovid, disagreed with Dreier that autoplay ads are being used more frequently. He did say that advertisers have a problem with the viewability standard; their online video ads often aren't being played with sound, and they're paying for those ad impressions.

Advertisers are already asking for changes, Chalozin added, with some saying that the full video should be played in order to count as an impression, and others recommending payment on a sliding scale depending on what percentage of the ad is viewed.  

For users suffering from reduced site load times, crashes due to conflicts (either between the video and the page or their computer), or annoying audio blasts from non-muted autoplay ads, there's little relief until the standards are changed or the industry responds to their complaints. Some sites, like, are offering advice on how to change browser settings to stop autoplay ads altogether. That's bad news for advertisers trying to get their messages seen.

Meanwhile, with PointRoll introducing autoplay video ads that work on mobile devices, the industry may see users drawing the line on a technology that eats into their cellular data plan.  

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