What Website Users Really Think About Auto-Play Advertisements

Oct 29, 2013 | Websites

Frustrated businessman

Auto-play advertisements have been called “the most hated digital ad tactic.” If you search “hate auto-play advertisements” on Google, over 62.5 million results show up. And yet, many of the most trafficked sites on the web still use them. This begs the question: if everyone dislikes auto-play advertisements, why do sites continue to use them?

It simply comes down to advertising money. People will pay more to place a video advertisement on a site because it is guaranteed to grab attention—even if the attention is unwanted. (Yes, I am talking to you, unnamed dishwashing soap.) When an ad comes up, you are forced to scramble around the webpage, searching for the source of that ungodly noise, all while dodging exasperated looks from co-workers because it certainly isn’t the first time it has happened to you this week. And the problem only compounds when you’re using multiple tabs. The only logical thing to do at that point is to shut down your computer and call it a day.

Although I detest auto-play advertisements, they are nearly impossible to avoid. They are everywhere, whether I’m trying to watch a news story on an unspeakable atrocity that has happened in the world, or a video of a kitten batting at a puppy’s ears. The genre of content does not matter—someone has paid a lot of money to put this advertisement alongside it.

But it does not have to be this way. You may be saying to yourself, “How so? If all the major sites are doing it, I should be as well!” Weren’t you taught as a child that you should not simply succumb to peer pressure? Shouldn’t you think for yourself? If everyone were jumping off a bridge, would you do it, too?

Here are some better alternatives to auto-play advertising:

  1. Still-picture advertisements. These are not as intrusive as auto-play ads, and they convey your message just as well—if not better. A still-picture ad will surely cause fewer headaches and complaining as people open your site, which increases the chances of return visits.

  2. A video ad that is muted—or must be clicked on or rolled over to begin playing. This way, it is up to the user to hear or watch the ad (inadvertently or purposefully).

When I go to a website for the first time, I do not want to be bombarded with an ad yelling at me about how I should buy juicy, chewable tablets to make the most of my snack time while sitting at my desk. It immediately turns me off to the website (especially if those tablets have made my fingers, keyboard, and mouse all sticky). The next time I think of going to that site, I will probably remember the ads, and the sticky situation it left me in last time, and steer clear of it altogether.

I’d like to think that I speak for the rest of America, and perhaps the world, when I say that you should never put auto-play advertisements on your website. But I’m not sure that anyone really wants me speaking for them. In any case, be wise—and be aware of your audience. Use one of the alternative advertising techniques mentioned above, or come up with some of your own.

JT Jacobson
JT Jacobson
Video Editor
Learn more about JT!

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