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Irked Readers Blast Websites for Loud Autoplay Ads

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Survey Results

frustrated reader (BOSTON - Jan. 17, 2017) -- Internet users are mad as hell and not going to take it anymore. That is the message they have for web publishers that blare video ads with full sound unexpectedly when users click a link to read a news story on their sites, according to a survey released today by ConsumerWorld.org.

On many prominent news and information sites, such as USA Today, CNN, Forbes, and AOL, text-based news stories are often accompanied by video commercials that begin playing automatically with full sound when the page is accessed. Sometimes the ads roll before a video version of the text story, while at other times they appear as standalone ads.

"The vast majority of readers told us they found autoplay ads 'annoying,' 'intrusive,' 'thoughtless,' and sometimes 'startling,' " explained Edgar Dworsky, founder of Consumer World. "Some even said it caused them embarrassment at work when unexpected sound started blaring from their computer speakers."

Readers say autoplay ads are...

Survey results
Complete results can be viewed at: http://www.consumerworld.org/pubs/autoplay-ads-survey.pdf

The public's reaction to these ads goes beyond mere annoyance. About 70 percent of respondents say they immediately try to silence the sound, but if they can't, they abandon the website. In some cases, readers have to spend time hunting on the webpage for the source of the audio. For example, scrolling down this page at ABC News both triggers and reveals the advertisement and sound.

Over a third of the respondents say they plan not to return to sites with autoplay ads.

"This obviously has ramifications for web publishers who can't afford to alienate readers, as well as for advertisers who are wasting money on commercials that get muted immediately," said Dworsky. "The message couldn't be any clearer -- turn off autoplay ads or risk losing eyeballs."

According to the survey, autoplay ads are becoming ubiquitous with 80 percent of respondents saying they encounter them one or more times a day.

Since only a few sites like MSN mute ads and videos by default, irked Internet users have had to become more proactive to silence them by using tools built into some websites and browsers. At the bottom of some video players there is an autoplay on/off switch that can be toggled. More elaborate steps need to be taken to have the browser control the autoplaying of certain videos, and they differ from browser to browser. But not all types of videos can be stopped via browser settings.

Some users have turned to ad blockers to stop autoplay ads to the consternation of web publishers. Enlightened publishers and advertising executives, however, concede that some of their own practices may be to blame. In a recently released white paper, the nonprofit Online Trust Alliance (OTA) said, in part, "The acceleration of ad blocking globally is testimony to users’ frustration with their online experiences. Ad intrusiveness – such as pop-ups, auto play audio or video, etc. – are among leading reasons consumers use ad blockers. ... OTA ... calls for an industry commitment to advertising practices which respect the user and place their online experience first."

The "Consumer Attitude Survey about Autoplay Ads on Websites" was completed by 530 readers of Consumer World December 12-22, 2016. In this convenience sample, there were no real differences between the responses of men and women, nor based on the age of the respondent.

What do you think about autoplay ads? Add your opinion or read others'.



  • Autoplay Website Ads Survey by Consumer World

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