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.