Oklahoma City News, Entertainment & Occasional Humor • Established 2007

Here’s why NewsOK.com auto-plays their videos…


NewsOK.com really isn’t that bad of a website.  But…if you took a poll to determine the most annoying thing about the site, I would bet good money that the top complaint would be the stupid auto-play videos that accompany most of their news stories.

I say that because it’s an issue that I’m sure has gotten quite a few college students, office workers and people at the Gazette in trouble over the past 3 – 5 years.  You know what I’m talking about.

It probably happened to you one morning while you’re at work or class. You’re a little bored and decide to check out Royce’s Daily Bolts.  You then see a link to some Darnell Mayberry column.  You click on the link and a few seconds later you’re greeted to the loud audio of some guy telling you “I sell Edmond.”  Of course, that dude is then followed by Jenni Carlson and Mike Baldwin — two people who have the sports IQs of drunk llamas— discussing Serge Ibaka nicknames and Eric Maynor tattoos.

Well, I wanted to find out exactly why NewsOK.com thinks it’s cool to “surprise” people with unexpected video content.  So I emailed Alan Herzberger, the Digital Managing Editor for OPUBCO to get an answer.

Here’s what I asked

Hi Alan -

Got a question and have no clue who to ask or what channel to go through, but I figured I’d ask you first.

1. Why does NewsOK.com auto-play the videos that accompany the news stories? I can’t think of any other news website that does that.

2. Why is there not an option available for the site visitor to toggle auto-play on and off?

3. Had there been discussion or thought to make videos not auto-load or click to play only?

Thanks!

Patrick

To which Alan replied:

I can answer for you …

1: The auto-play has been our most effective way to expose that content to users. In many cases the video tells the story better than the text, and the auto-play feature allows us to put that content in front of the user.

2 & 3: We’re always discussing various functionality and possible changes on our site. But to my knowledge, we have no plans to make a change at this time.

Uhm…did he really say that “in many cases the video tells the story better than the text?”

You see, I’m pretty sure that NewsOK.com is the website for the Oklahoman.  And at last check, the Oklahoman is an “award winning” print newspaper with an army of editors, journalists, reporters, etc?  That means we should expect the articles in the paper to be “better” and more informative than video of Jennifer Wardlow reading a prepared statement from her desk.  If not, why even visit NewsOK.com?  I’d just watch TV news…right?

Even though Herzberger’s statement seems to conflict with the purpose of a newspaper, I guess it’s good that NewsOK is always “discussing various functionality and possible changes on our site.”  In fact, I have an item to add to the agenda of their next meeting. It is called “Do the right thing and stop auto-playing videos!!!!!”

But I doubt the item will be heard.  When NewsOK sets their videos to auto-play, they get to tell the people at Richardson Homes or Missouri Tourism that their video was watched so many thousand times. I doubt they tell them that the commercial got somebody written up at work or in trouble in their accounting class.  Or that most people got annoyed and muted their computer or paused the video.  Information like that would be depressing.

p.s – I would like to thank Alan for replying to our question.  We’ve asked Ed Kelly for an interview several times and he doesn’t/didn’t reply to our emails.

 

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Comments

  1. That’s a flat out lie. They auto play the video with ads in front to earn advertising money.

    As much as I hate their autoplay videos, I would assume they are part of what keeps NewsOK.com from going behind a paywall like the Dallas Morning News recently did (closet competitor because Tulsa doesn’t count as a city anymore).

    But luckily for us there is an easy, easy way to block all of those videos, if you use FireFox get the Adblock Pro addon, it’s free and will let you block those videos from showing up. If you hover your mouse over the video a little box will pop up in the top right that says “BLOCK” and click it.

    No more crappy autoplay videos, I’ve been autoplay free for over a year now. Hope this helps

  2. And to the LO, sorry that was a bit hostile in the beginning. Didn’t mean it to come across that way, I promise all my frustration is aimed the DOK

  3. The videos are better than the writing? Has the Oklahoman ever thought about hiring actual writers and not pretty faces for the camera, like Jenni Carlson? The Oklahoman has gone downhill since E.L. Gaylord died (I note that isn’t saying much because during his lifetime wasn’t it voted the worst daily newspaper in the US?)

  4. Herzberger has the reputation of being a generally clueless kissass with no ideas of his own. Hunter is right. The bottom line is those autoplays count as clicks and they take those click to advertisers.

  5. Great post…..I have thought the same thing many of times. Let me go ahead and tell you I will never buy a car from Reynolds Ford, because of the loud advertisement that automatically plays on the sports page when you are scrolling the top of the screen.

    • holy crap I thought I was the only one who is boycotting Reynolds. That add is so annoying and frustrating. I freakin hate myself because I cautiously move my mouse cursor around the dam banner to avoid hearing that old dbag tell me about his car. I know car commercials are supposed to be annoying, but in an outlandish way, not because I hear it a million times when reading OU football articles!

  6. Another news site that does it: ESPN.com. Of course, it’s the website of a sports news TV station, and they don’t usually include advertisements before the video segment, so it’s not really the same. But still…

  7. The Daily Oklahoman becomes The Oklahoman and now enters the media age as The Daily Irritant with these vacuous videos. The Oklahoman is joyless…

  8. Jesus, people, you have heard of browsers other than Internet Explorer, right? You don’t even need to waste a click with Adblock Pro to block videos. If you use Firefox or Chrome, simply use Flashblock.

    Now back to my DnD game….

    • Thank you IT. Please return to your hole until you are summoned yet again for another SQL error.

  9. It’s a little better than it used to be, though, when the video consisted only of Dave Morris reading the text of the story below the video over a montage of photos that may or may not have been related to the story.

    I hate that goddamn website, and yet I keep going back.

  10. Ad Block, Flash Block, there are probably 30 apps to block, not only DOK’s Flash, but all Flash…. which is a big relief. Switch to FireFox or Chrome – then look for and install the extension or add-on.

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