Auto-Play Videos Appear in Google Results

You’ve been outed. The cat video plays automatically during an executive meeting. It’s a scenario that could happen and may already be happening, if your Google search is on a desktop, relates to movies and TV shows, and involves a “knowledge panel” in the results, reports the Guardian.

So far, what appears to be Google testing users’ tolerance of the auto-play videos doesn’t involve ads, the U.K. paper reports on Wednesday.

It’s possible this is a response to Facebook’s video push, as well as the social media platform’s auto-play default for videos in its lucrative video ads in News Feeds — even on mobile devices. Those devices accounted for 87 percent of the company’s overall ad revenue in Q2, Adweek reported on Wednesday, just a day before Ad Age revealed “Facebook’s Video Helps Drive $9B in Ad Sales, Up 47%” and that Facebook will soon debut 6-second video ads.

Samuel Gibbs writes about the Google videos for the Guardian:

Searches for information about movies or TV shows pops up the video in the right-hand sidebar, which automatically plays once without ads.

A Google spokesperson said: “We are constantly experimenting with ways to improve the search experience for our users, but have no plans to announce at this time.”

The videos automatically play for desktop users only, and are shown but require a tap to play for mobile users.

So that would have to be one very specific cat video search that happens to land on a beta result.

Also, the Guardian notes that Chrome will automatically block auto-play videos with its adblocker. So marketers wanting to get in on the auto-play videos may have to consider product placement, influencer marketing and the ilk.

The SEM Post, which broke the news on July 24, said searchers may not be able to get away from the auto-play videos simply by refreshing their browsers:

On a reload of the LEGO results, Google placed the auto-play video lower on the page, beneath Product Listing Ads.

Jennifer Slegg writes in The SEM Post that the videos play silently, unless clicked, and do show advertising opportunities for brands:

I did see a post-roll promo on one trailer to subscribe to the channel, which is pretty common for many video makers to try and bump their subscriber numbers, as well as branding in the middle of the video to like and subscribe from the person who uploaded the trailer. However, when I clicked through to view one of the trailers (LEGO) on YouTube instead of in the search results, it added a pre-roll ad before it let me view the video.

What do you think, marketers?

Please respond in the comments section below.

Heather Fletcher is senior content editor with Target Marketing.