This is one of my best articles to date, yet probably a bit controversial because it goes against some common web-design practices, but for good reason.
You’ll learn why popular websites use this strategy, how it can improve conversion rates for your photography business, and how to enable it everywhere you go online. Plus an extra section on why auto-playing music is actually a must-have for wedding photography websites.
1. CNN and other big news sites also do it by default
Let’s get this straight: autoplay = advertising = money.
Video ads generated 20 to 50 times more revenue than traditional display ads, and the best way to get money was to make the videos play automatically (source)
It’s a well-known strategy in the advertising business, and photographers should also take advantage of this.
I’ve long been saying that photographers should treat it as a business (and not just a hobby), and making more money is a big part of that.
If it’s a business strategy that works, why mess with it, right?
The only people complaining about auto-playing videos on news sites are the ones engaged in weird political communities. For example, take this “complainer” from Reddit:
Notice that his “community friend” is then advocating socialism. Case in point.
2. YouTube already defaults to auto-playing videos in mobile apps
When they introduced this feature to their free apps, people were ecstatic.
And they’re the world’s largest video site, and second largest search engine in the world. So they probably know what they’re doing, right?
When people land on your site, you want them to drop everything they’re doing and listen to your stuff instead!
An immediate interruption makes people engage with your site (even if just for closing it), and that’s ultimately a good SEO sign.
3. Audio & video can stay below the “fold”, increasing conversion rates
Everyone knows that you should put important elements high up on your homepage, so that people browsing your site on smaller laptops can see them straight away.
But auto-playing sounds or videos can stay lower on the page!
In fact, users will have to eventually scroll down to them anyway, to watch/listen to them (or, God forbid, to stop them), which, again, is another interaction with your website.
The lower down the page you put your auto-playing video, the better:
- It greatly increases “Time on Page” (which you can track in Google Analytics) – an important SEO factor
- They get to see your entire beautiful homepage as they scroll all the way down to find the auto-playing video. All that beautiful design will not go unnoticed.
- You’ll probably also get more contact messages from your website visitors (because they want to talk to you about the video – which is your opportunity to sell them something)
With a recent update, the Mozilla Firefox browser now blocks what they call “annoying autoplaying audio and video” (though who can say what’s really “annoying”, that’s subjective, right?)
#image screenshot from https://www.cnet.com/news/firefox-update-blocks-annoying-autoplaying-audio-and-video/
But this decision is probably the main cause of Firefox’s recent decline in browser market share:
5. An auto-playing video is the ultimate call-to-action
I wrote a lot about call-to-action buttons in the past, but I’m thinking now of updating that article to also include videos, not just buttons.
By adding an auto-playing video to your homepage, you increase the element of waiting time on your homepage. Now, instead of quickly finding their way to achieving what they are looking for, a customer will find themselves engaged in understanding your product. (source)
And you want people to understand your business, that’s a good thing.
Even if users click to stop or mute your video, that’s still an ACTION, that’s the goal of your website.
6. For wedding photography sites, auto-play videos are a must-have
The target audience for a wedding photography site definitely has a soft spot for “feelings”. That’s where a great auto-playing video comes in.
“Sight, sound and motion can make people laugh, make people cry, make them hug somebody” (source)
When engaged couples first open a wedding website, if they automatically hear a nice piano song playing in the background, they’re immediately transported into a loving frame of mind, and more likely to be impressed by the wedding portfolio in front of them.
7. Users clearly prefer autoplay videos
Look no further than this real stat of people being asked about their Facebook account settings:
Or here’s another example:
Sorry, when I upload this image to this article, the graph legend got cropped out, so we can’t really tell which color is which.
But I’m guessing that orange is “Yes”, and blue is “No”. Another clear example that users actually prefer videos that autoplay.
People react to moving things, that’s encoded in our brain. It translates to very practical value for site owners with lower bounce rate and longer sessions. (actual quote somewhere on Reddit)
8. (Autoplay) music is good for your health
We’re not even going to talk about sudden hearing loss – which is a real medical condition. You can give users more awareness that their hearing is still fine by just playing something automatically on your site.
But beyond that, music has been shown to improve health, so why not put that on auto-pilot on your site?
Studies have shown that music can buoy your mood and fend off depression. It can also improve blood flow in ways similar to statins, lower your levels of stress-related hormones like cortisol and ease pain. (source)
“If people are having trouble [navigating your website], there’s usually a way that [auto-playing] music can help.” (words in parenthesis added by me)
9. Extra clicks to play videos/audio waste years of human evolution
Let’s just take YouTube as an example. The number of videos watched per day is 5 billion! (source)
If each video required an initial click to start it, which roughly takes about 2.3 seconds on average, humanity would waste 11.500.000.000 seconds on just starting videos.
That’s roughly 350 years of wasted time, lost in a day. (You do the math to confirm)
And it can all be avoided by just auto-playing everything, and having more free time to spend on other aspects of technological and cultural evolution.
10. All popular platforms allow it: Here’s how to enable video auto-play everywhere
The fact that all major social media and video platforms allow turning the autoplay feature on (or off), is a clear sign of how wide-spread and popular auto-playing videos are.
And with high-bandwidth internet connections becoming the norm, there’s no longer any reason to not force the video data down your visitors’ connection. It’s always their responsibility to turn off their metered/cellular connections if needed (especially on mobile).
Facebook: Settings > Video
Twitter: Settings & Privacy > Data Usage > Video autoplay
Chrome: open this URL in your address bar: chrome://flags/#autoplay-policy and then set the option to how you prefer it
Safari intelligently doesn’t allow you to change this setting for all site. You can only control it on an individual website basis by right-clicking on the address bar and choosing “Settings for this website”
Netflix: Your Account > Playback Settings > Auto-Play
What auto-playing song or video have YOU added to your site?
P.S. Happy April Fools’ Day! 🤣