Chrome Restricting Autoplay, What Publishers Should Know
Friday, April 6, 2018
Google will begin blocking of videos on Chrome, planned for April 17th. Google is taking this step in an effort to provide a more positive experience for end users. However, due to Chrome’s high browser market share, this change has the potential to have a significantly negative impact on video ad volumes. In order to minimize the impact on video plays (and video ad inventory, if applicable), please update to the latest version of the Ooyala Web Player.
- Led by the Coalition of Better Ads Experience Program, Google will now require users to explicitly initiate a video play before playback will occur.
- This requirement is nothing new for mobile devices, as Apple’s Safari and Google’s Chrome have always restricted autoplay in favor of requiring user initiation.
- Safari extended this requirement to desktop late last year with the release of Safari 11 and Chrome will do the same with the release of Chrome 66 around April 17. Considering Chrome’s dominant market share in the browser landscape, this is a pretty big deal. A new version of the Ooyala Player (4.23) will be needed to continue having videos autoplay (muted) on Chrome 66.
- Most browsers have provided methods for blocking autoplay of videos for some time, but the major change is that these are becoming enabled by default. Firefox, Explorer and Edge haven’t yet committed to the same autoplay requirements yet by default, although the expectation is that they will.
What is specifically changing:
- Chrome will no longer autoplay videos that contain sound and are not muted. Playback will be allowed if (1) a video set to autoplay is muted, or (2) if the user manually selects the play button.
- If a publisher decides to continue to set their videos to autoplay, they will become blocked unless muted.
- For video that is purely for the purpose of serving ads (where no video content is otherwise served), the changes are even more severe - rather than blocking autoplay of these videos, Google will stop delivery of ads.
- Some sites could be exempt based on Chrome’s Media Engagement Index (MEI), on a per-user bases. The MEI index measures the user’s interest in video content over time, resulting in relaxing the autoplay bocking if the autoplay is clearly of value to the end-user.
- Check Google’s Autoplay Policy Changes and The Chromium Projects for more info.
What this means for publishers:
- Many publishers that leverage autoplay to generate a significant portion of their overall video ad impressions may see a drop in their impression inventory when Chrome v66 is released.
- Affected publishers should consider the following options for setting video playback:
- Autoplay w/ sound only where possible, otherwise autoplay muted where required. This is the default behavior enabled by the lastest Ooyala Web Player.
- Mute the player in general on all desktop & mobile browsers.
- Remove autoplay and set for user click-to-play on all browsers.
- A mixture of options 1, 2 and 3.
- For publishers that maintain autoplay but mute the audio (options 1 & 2), it’s important to note that any muted ad impression must be reported in the ad request as such to the run-time ad auction. This will likely impact CPMs as there is a good chance unmuted inventory will be preferred over muted.
How the Ooyala Web Player is helping adapt to these changes by Chrome:
- The Ooyala Web Player already has the capability to adapt its muted autoplay functionality to meet Safari and Chrome requirements to prevent autoplay blocking. The latest version of the Ooyala player, Player (v4.23.6) enables continuation of autoplay (muted) on Chrome v.66 by automatically muting playback on Chrome. For versions of the Ooyala player prior to this release will have autoplay blocked on Chrome v.66, and require click-to-play by the end user.
- If the user retains Chrome’s default setting (blocking of autoplay with sound), the Ooyala player will automatically mute the video during playback to enable autoplay. For users that have updated their settings to allow for autoplay with sound, the player will still autoplay with sound.
- Further, any player set to autoplay can be configured to playback muted as general rule by utilizing one of the Mute page-level parameters.
- Also note, if the player starts playback muted, any ad requests will identify the ad impression as muted via the IMA plugin, as now required by Google.
- For more on options for the Ooyala player autoplay and mute configurations, please see our Ooyala Player Page-Level Parameters.
Recommended next steps:
- To maintain the status-quo as much as possible, upgrade your website to utilize the latest version of the Ooyala Web Player as soon as possible.
- If you haven’t yet, we recommend discussing with the assigned rep at your ad serving platform for guidance and best practices related to this change by Chrome.
- Start conversations with key direct-sold advertisers that rely on your inventory to make sure they understand the implications of these new requirements and how it may impact your inventory.
- Decide what approach makes sense as both a short-term and long-term solution to the problem. For example, perhaps you implement a short-term technical solution to minimize the impact for now but focus on a more click-friendly strategy for the long-term.
- To this effect, we recommend running A/B tests on click-to-play vs. muted autoplay and the resulting balance of ad CPM vs. inventory volume to help determine your strategy.
- As always, please don’t hesitate to reach out to your Ooyala contact if you need any additional information or guidance.