A Call To Action: Long Live Autoplay Video

Did you hear the news? The IAB is drafting new specs for display. Banners will now be responsive across all screens and generally less intrusive. Do you like pushdowns? Well, those are likely going away along with most of what we would consider rich media, including rollover effects. There is however one carve out: the video progressive. Sort of…

The current draft of the IAB’s new guidelines disallows autoplay video except in very specific circumstances. One such example dictates that progressives may only autoplay “…when a user is on Wi-Fi or broadband Internet connections.” That’s actually not a bad idea, but the problem is there technically no way to detect if a user is on a Wi-Fi connection via the web browser.

Play/pause functionality must also be added, but what’s most notable is that file sizes, particularly for large billboard units, are being significantly limited. What this means is that your 970×250 marquee unit will only autoplay 3-5 seconds of video (assuming Wi-Fi is detected).

The good news is that the IAB’s public comment period is open until November 28, 2016, and your input matters!

The entertainment industry has been a responsible champion of the in-banner video progressive unit for over a decade. The format has been the workhorse of entertainment advertisers and has persisted because it is a cost-effective way to market original content to your target audience. If you’d like to continue to see your quality digital creative in front of moviegoers, I’d suggest sending a quick note to the IAB committee letting them know that polite video loading is important to your business. Feel free to use my sample letter below and email newadportfolio@iab.com:

RE: IAB New Ad Portfolio – Comment

Dear IAB:

As an advertiser, autoplay video is an important part of my toolkit. The proposed guidelines for a new Standard Ad Unit Portfolio place severe and arbitrary restrictions on the use of autoplay in-banner video and should be modified prior to final issuance. Polite video subloads should be included expressly in the new display specifications, as in the current HTML5 specifications, and autoplay video guidelines should consider the overall page load experience as opposed to placing arbitrary limits on single ad units.

I believe in the responsible use of autoplay video, and that decisions on the use of autoplay formats should be made by publishers and advertisers on a case-by-case basis. The proposed guidelines are simply too restrictive and should consider a more balanced approach.