Web player auto-play, also referred to as auto-playing, is a property for web-based players to automatically start playing upon each page load.
Traditionally the auto playing functionality is added to a player by including an attribute within the embed or object such as autoPlay=true. Modern HTML5 based players can auto-play simply by including the tag autoplay or autoplay=”autoplay” within the <audio> or <video> HTML5 tag.
How to determine if your content is auto playing
If the player starts to play when visiting a webpage then more than likely the autoplay attribute for the player in the page is configured.
Do not auto-play best practices
As a best practice, the autoplay attribute should not be present for HTML5 based players. Furthermore, the preload attribute should be set to none (preload=”none”) to prevent unnecessary bandwidth usage.
All Blubrry tools and services conform to best practices that have been developed the past decade in the podcasting industry. No reputable media hosting/statistics provider has ever supported or recommended auto-play.
Why auto-play should not be used in webpages
It’s annoying – Ever click a link from an email or social media site that takes you to a page that begins blaring loud audio that you weren’t expecting? Imagine being that guy at work who loads up the webpage that starts playing and everyone from neighboring cubicles then looks over. More than likely that new visitor promptly closed his web browser and is most likely not coming back to your website anytime soon. As a podcaster, you don’t want your first impression to a prospective subscriber to be filled with aggravation.
Accessibility for visually impaired – Auto playing puts visually impaired users in a situation where they are frantically trying to navigate your page to figure out how to stop/pause the player. Accessibility software is designed to display small portions of the screen in a zoomed fashion or display nothing at all relying solely on text to speech screen-reading software to help the user navigate the page. You can only imagine the frustration trying to listen to screen-reading software while also having a podcast playing at the same time.
Artificially inflates podcast statistics – When you look at your podcast stats, you want to see a true, real-world representation of your audience. Auto-play can artificially inflate podcast statistics because plays triggered through auto-play aren’t necessarily being created by humans who are genuinely interested in consuming your content. If someone clicks through to your podcast site and a media file begins to autoplay and they immediately click away, that could be counted as a play when, in actuality, no one took the time to listen to the episode. Imagine this happening hundreds or thousands of times a day. Your podcast stats would be rife with inaccurate data. Everyone loves to log into their stats and see big numbers. But those numbers are meaningless if they don’t represent a real audience. Some podcasters believe that “big numbers” are the key to success. But having an active, engaged audience will do more in the long term for most shows than artificially inflated stats could ever do. Like Twitter bombing, using AutoPlay to artificially pump up a podcast’s download numbers will do very little to help a podcast grow and succeed.
Wastes bandwidth – Auto-loading will consume additional bandwidth. Depending on where you host your audio or video you run the risk of exceeding your bandwidth quota. If you use a service such as Amazon S3 where you pay per GB bandwidth used, you will inadvertently pay for unnecessary bandwidth.
Does not fit the spirit of podcasting – Don’t forget what podcasting is all about. Podcasting provides the option for your audience to consume your content when and where they want. Let your audience decide when they want to play your media; it is the spirit of podcasting!
Web player auto-play exceptions
If you absolutely have to auto-play media on your website, consult with a professional web developer to determine how to provide the functionality you seek while taking into consideration the devices and users accessing your website.