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By Ilya Degtev

Ad Tech Manager at Brightcove

Major Browsers Ending Autoplay Video: What You Need to Know


Dear Brightcove Customers,

We would like to inform you of some important changes among desktop browsers that may impact video advertising for some of you. Apple and Google have recently announced their respective plans for doing away with autoplay video, which may have revenue repercussions for media publishers that rely on the functionality. Many of you may be aware of the existing autoplay restrictions on mobile, but the measures are new for desktop browsers.

What is Happening?

Apple's latest version of Safari, version 11, has autoplay disabled by default for videos with accompanying audio tracks. Apple’s implementation lets end users whitelist sites to enable autoplay (choices: “allow all” videos to autoplay, allow only videos without audio to autoplay, never autoplay). Most end users are likely not aware of their options and will not manually re-enable autoplay functionality.

As for Google, beginning with Chrome M65 (the public release is M61 right now), video with audio will not autoplay on desktop without a user interaction to begin playback. This change is being made by Google in order to more closely align expected desktop performance to mobile.  Google explains the goals of the changes in this post but the key points about the timing of the rollout are in the table at the bottom of this post.

Google’s post also explains their plan to allow some sites to be exempt from the new anti-autoplay measures based on Chrome’s Media Engagement Index (MEI), explained here, but the MEI is a work in progress as of this posting.

What Will the Impact Be?

The net effect of these changes is that publishers that rely heavily on autoplay pre-rolls are most likely going to notice a decrease in available video advertising inventory.

Brightcove has been testing players configured for autoplay against browser scenarios where autoplay is not permitted and the default behavior is for the player to simply become click-to-play. There may be scenarios where high MEI sites are allowed to autoplay but the rules around which media buyers consider which autoplay scenarios viewable is tricky. For example, as of today, Publicis will count autoplay videos as viewable but not muted ones. GroupM doesn't consider autoplay ads viewable even with sound on but recently released new guidance that they'll count as viewable autoplay with sound off on "native placements" like Facebook.

Unfortunately, Brightcove does not have control over browser-level restrictions and cannot provide a workaround. In addition to an inventory decrease, possible impacts may include discrepancies in metrics and an increase in errors. VPAID creatives in particular may be adversely affected, and if they don’t handle this condition effectively they may appear broken. We will work to do everything possible to make sure your Brightcove player is able to handle these roadblocks gracefully and that your content plays back successfully.

Any Advice?

We suggest preparing for these changes by aligning with your ad partners. Decide if it’s better to autoplay muted on these browsers, which may not count as a viewable impression, or whether you prefer changing the UX to click-to-play and focusing on making sure you have engaging thumbnails to invite viewing. It might be valuable to create a table, for your internal use, summarizing any risk of campaign under-delivery or revenue shortfall that these browsers’ changes may have to your business. Here are the dates to consider for Chrome as of the timing of this blog post:

September 2017New autoplay policies announced
Begin collecting Media Engagement Index (MEI) data* in Crome M62 Canary and Dev
December 2017Site muting available in M64 Beta
Autoplay policies available in M65 Canary and Dev
January 2018Site muting available in M64 Stable
Autoplay policies available in M65 Beta
March 2018Autoplay policies available in M65 Stable

The risk will likely depend on what percentage of your inventory is driven by autoplay, what the split is, across browsers, of your viewership, etc. Definitely reach out to your Brightcove account team with any concerns or questions.

Thank you,

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