Video autoplay: a question and an answer

Video autoplay, regularly described as one of the most hated features of the Internet, seems to be becoming more common. It’s unsurprising that sites should autoplay ads: that’s how they earn the money they need to serve. But news sites seem to have started autoplaying videos of inane commentary on the stories that they publish. Typically, they take a while to load, so I am usually halfway down the page when the computer starts blaring TV commentary.

Question: Why do news sites do this ? Surely it will just drive readers away, while people who want video will presumably go to sites that provide nothing else.
Answer: For the moment, at least I don’t care, since I have found a way to block them. At least for the moment, and at least for Flash, it seems to be working.

8 thoughts on “Video autoplay: a question and an answer

  1. Video ad appears on web site.
    Mark website never to be visited (again).
    Move on.

    Seriously though, I generally only want to see an advert for something when I am already shopping at that company’s site. I emphatically do not want to be followed around by adverts for things the advertising company’s crap Bayesian pattern matching thingo figures out (incorrectly) that I’ll really want to see, soaking up bits and bytes of my personally paid for ADSL connection.

    The great irony, and most bitter disappointment, of the Internet Age for me is that my list of reliable news sources has radically shrunk back to almost zero, and even those news sources need a serious nuclear-powered bulldust detector. It’s like hacking through the jungle with a blunt machete, trying to avoid the click-bait, and the mouse-hairs hover detection acreage.

    With fewer foreign correspondents and news teams being funded, fewer non-English speaking areas (or more accurately, fewer English-as-a-primary-language regions) are having their news-worthy stories and events finding their way into the English-as-an-only-language speaking world’s news. Apart from a few canned stories on the “wire”, al Jazeera, and SBS, much just passes us by, even as we are inundated with “Jessica went home last night. You won’t guess what happened next.” infantile headlines at the newspaper online websites.

    For finding out technical information about something, the web is a great tool. For news that is reliable, timely, and relatively untainted by the sponsors, it is sucking worse than ever.

  2. While all of this unwanted content (superfluous cr@p) is a bit of a ‘first world problem’, the problem is that not all of the world has first world internet services. The consequence is that for most people in areas like the Pacific you cannot benefit from the information revolution as any attempt to get anything useful ‘times out’ because of all of the superfluous cr@p, or your incredibly expensive monthly allowance is expended on the unwanted superfluous cr@p.

  3. Yippee! Thanks to following the link Professor Quiggin provided, I should now be spared such video-clip rubbish in future.

    Talking of the “Bayesian pattern matching thingo” to which Donald Oats refers, sites like Amazon are forever telling me that – for example – if I like the analyses of Colonel Andrew Bacevich (whose son was killed in Iraq) I will LERVE the diatribes of Sean Hannity (neocon chickenhawk). This does not improve my trust in Amazon’s ability to predict my tastes in literature.

  4. You can also use Firefox linked solutions designed for privacy. I think its ‘Addblock’ but I’m not sure of the site. I have heard they will let some adds through for a price but I at least no longer get any rubbish from the sites I visit.

    And it speeds up the internet so its win win for me but a dire threat to the current Internet funding model.

  5. Good advice turning of media autoplay… it has been the vector of more than one zero day exploit.

    If you’re ok with futzing around from time to time, on Firefox you could install NoScript and Ghostery, and by default disable all trackers, widgets and scripts (oh, and $#^& Flash).

    Downside is, as mentioned, some futzing around (eg: who to whitelist and where). Some sites (for eg Slate) are just abysmal and have 57 external scripts and widgets on every page.

    Upside: no drive-by scripts, no trackers, no ads (unless you want them). Enhanced awareness of exactly who is keeping tabs on you for money – Ghostery is a real eye-opener.

    From time to time you must “temporarily allow all of this page” – eg: online sales situations.
    With any luck, sanity will prevail in regard to outsourcing metrics etc but I’m not holding my breath…

  6. @Happy Heyoka
    Yeah, one of the pages I found myself looking at had 40-odd things blocked by ghostery (a real gem), none of which I wanted. The two questions that spring to mind is: a) WTF, there are 40-odd different companies operating in this space (at least)? and b) how can they all make money if so many are competing for space and eyes and clicks on the one page?

    Of course, there are many more companies operating in this space, but getting a list like that for a single page really shows how much of the internet data is not true content, but parasitic along for the ride and rudely filling the intertubes up with what we all know we don’t want in the first place.

    I hope such companies are not a part of the PM’s innovation plan.

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