News Limited to switch on autoplay video

News Limited is to join its rival publisher Fairfax Media and switch on autoplay video across its websites.

The move – which starts next week – was revealed in a story from The Australian.

The move will see videos start to play – preceded by pre-roll ads – when users land on a page.

Previously Fairfax Media was the only major publisher to run autoplay video.

Advertiser demand for pre-roll video has tended to outstrip supply, leaving media owners keen to increase the number of video streams they deliver.

One of the most commented Mumbrella stories of all time was when Fairfax claimed that autoplay video was popular with users. Fairfax later introduced the option for users to switch off autoplay – if they register and log in.

According to the Australian’s story, users will be able to change settings to turn off autoplay without having to register. This would presumably be achieved via cookie data.

The story in The Australian – which is published by News Limited – claims the move will be “popular with advertisers and media agencies because it increases exposure to their ad campaigns”.

However, media agency UM boycotted buying video ads with Fairfax over autoplay. At the time UM CEO Mat Baxter said the move was because autoplay was annoying for users and could make them hostile to advertisers.

A further concern for advertisers is that video ads play while the user’s attention is elsewhere. According to The Australian’s story, the videos will start to play if 25% or more of the video window is visible on screen. However, there is no way for advertisers to tell if their ad played while the user had their headphones in or speakers turned on.

At the time of posting, News Limited could not be immediately reached for comment.


  1. James
    23 Jan 13
    8:20 pm

  2. So does this mean no more paywalls….? No? Then I probably won’t get to see the ads anyway. It’s the reason Idon’t have foxtel; I don’t want to pay up front for a service that then bombards me with advertising.. What am I paying for?

  3. Beck
    23 Jan 13
    8:21 pm

  4. Thankfully, readers still have a mute button. I intend to use it.

  5. Tom K
    23 Jan 13
    8:58 pm

  6. Shaking. My. Head.

  7. Riley Calaby
    23 Jan 13
    9:16 pm

  8. I installed Adblock Pro specifically to remove autoplay videos from Fairfax sites, and now it looks like I’ll have to enable adblocking for News Ltd, too.

    Their loss.

  9. When will they learn?
    23 Jan 13
    10:25 pm

  10. Oh dear. Old school publishing minds at work, yet again?

    This will be music to The Guardian’s ears. I bet they can’t believe their luck!

  11. Ben L
    23 Jan 13
    10:38 pm

  12. Fairfax already puts too much emphasis on ads over the video content as it is. Half the time when I attempt to play a video (via auto-play or otherwise), the ad plays fine, but the actual video gets stuck in a loading loop, forcing a refresh of the page.

    This kind of behaviour will inevitably piss advertisers off as much as readers, because you don’t remember their brand at the time of viewing so much as the agitation they induce.

    SMH already looks like the vomit resistant seat covers of a Sydney bus. News Limited should be looking elsewhere for inspiration.

  13. Craig
    24 Jan 13
    5:51 am

  14. Looks like a grab for ad revenue by misleading advertisers.

    I would not be surprised if Fairfax & News also employ bot networks to visit their sites in the background of many user PCs to boost their page views & therefore ad revenue. It is such a simple and low hanging (if unethical) way to simulate real usage across hundreds of thousands of PCs.

    Their page auto refresh does a similar thing when people keep tabs open in the background to a news service but rarely look at them.

    With mute on, which is usual for most office PCs to avoid cubicle wars, these videos are generally neither seen nor heard.

    Something else news services haven’t addressed is the increasing frustration of people who want to watch the video but are forced to watch a pre-roll ad which is proportionately longer than the actual video, or at least a large proportion of its length.

    I will go to YouTube now rather than wait through a 30second ad to see a one minute video at News or Fairfax sites.

  15. Tim-tegration
    24 Jan 13
    7:19 am

  16. @James…That is a silly argument.

    Not too sure if you have ever bought a newspaper or a magazine…they have ads in them. Paid to go to the cinema…ads. Paid to go on public transport….ads.

    Advertising helps pay the bills, which ultimately allows the owner of that service to keep their product as competitively priced for the consumer as possible.

    Without ads you would be paying more.

  17. Andrew Bolt & Gina Rineharts love child
    24 Jan 13
    8:53 am

  18. Print news reporters make such excellent TV journalists that I can’t understand why you don’t think this is as great as Mum and I do.

  19. AJ
    24 Jan 13
    8:57 am

  20. Yesterday, I loaded up the story on Dick Smith’s banned ad on only to be initially met with an ad. An ad preceding an ad. Meta much?

    I find it bothersome that any time the site jumps on whatever video is trending on YouTube, they will re-host the content, rather than just embed it directly from YouTube. And that, of course, is preceded by an ad.

  21. Tim B
    24 Jan 13
    9:11 am

  22. It’s hard to argue against people using ad blocker plugins when big publishers pull stunts like this.

  23. When will they learn?
    24 Jan 13
    9:45 am

  24. @Tim-tegration. Paying the bills? What world do you live in? Making millions in profit don’t you mean?

    I clicked on a video on SMH the other day, which insinuated that it would show me some weird obsessive compulsive routines of Sharapova. I clicked on the video, scrolled down when the ad came on and skimmed the article, (which the video was apart of) and then scrolled up and watched the video. The video did not show any of Sharapova’s weird ocd routine? Miseleading – you betcha! can I remember the advert / brand / marketing message? NOPE!

    I too now, when I see a video on Farifax, News, etc, will perform a quick search on YouTube and watch it there (at least I can skip the ad after 5 seconds IF there is an ad, that is…)

    Most vid’a on news sites are re hashed anyway and are available everywhere.

  25. Elbogrease
    24 Jan 13
    9:55 am

  26. I do the same as Riley #4.
    ADBLOCK people.

  27. Amajjika
    24 Jan 13
    10:19 am

  28. Auto play is a nightmare for the growing numbers of people who experience vision impairment and need to use assitive technology for them to access the internet. I guess that will mean the Human Rights Commissioner Graeme Innes (who is blind) will read his news elsewhere.

  29. Tim-tegration
    24 Jan 13
    10:31 am

  30. @When will they learn?

    Isn’t that the point of a business? To sell something and make money. Media is no different.

    And let’s be clear, the majority of media companies is Australia are running at a massive loss.

  31. Anonymous
    24 Jan 13
    12:02 pm

  32. Poor old News.

    As Google introduce TrueView:

    “TrueView video ads give viewers choice and control over which ad they watch and when. You’re charged only when a viewer has chosen to watch your ad,”

    They’re going the other way.

  33. norelle feehan
    24 Jan 13
    12:12 pm

  34. totally with you @Tim-tegration when is everyone (especially on THIS site of all places) going to realise it is what allows you to be paid for writing, producing, directing, thinking, living!!

    get with the program everyone – I want to crowdsource a few bucks so I can do a PR campaign making 2013 the year in which people ‘get it’ ie encouraged to think about how much stuff they get for nothing (oh yes the world owes them!) and to actually, you know, like pay like $$ for content – as they too should expect to be paid!. We pay Apple and others for the device, why not those who entertain and inform us!
    Journalism, advertising, film-making, radio, writers of fact and fiction (regardless of what delivery method their content) should be paid and that’s what the ads allow. you don’t like that? pity it’s your livelihood.

  35. Oh well
    24 Jan 13
    12:12 pm

  36. Two things really spring to mind:
    a) News is turning something on that Fairfax has spent the past two years figuring out how to turn off, and
    b) Such is the demand vs supply in-balance in Oz, buyers will lap this up. UM boycotting it makes no difference to the publishers at all bar an awkward conversation.

  37. Chris
    24 Jan 13
    12:14 pm

  38. Hi all digerati and commentors.

    Would you prefer if News and Fairfax (Yahoo and Mi9 also) offered you the chance to skip a pre-roll similar to YouTube True View?

    If you are interested in the TVC then you will engage and if not you skip. This is a win for the consumer and also the brand since the brand only pays on completion.

    Thoughts anyone?

  39. norelle feehan
    24 Jan 13
    12:41 pm

  40. P.S. to all of you who wish to make a living out of writing, creating, producing, filming, digitising, EEOing … you’re welcome! You’ll thank me in the future if my (imagined) campaign gets up !!

  41. David Taft
    24 Jan 13
    1:49 pm

  42. That’s a guarantee that I also won’t be visiting the News site on my mobile devices. What are they assuming? Unlimited data plans?

  43. David Taft
    24 Jan 13
    1:51 pm

  44. PS. I agree with you Norelle, I just want to chose what I pay to watch.

  45. Scott
    24 Jan 13
    3:06 pm

  46. Norelle, I don’t think the comments are arguing against online video revenue as a source of income for journalists / editors / writers / designers etc. It’s more this structure of auto-play TVC’s on news articles and the not-so-captive audience who have just selected the article to read as opposed to watch the auto playing video. Take this SMH link for an Apple article for example:

    I selected it to read the article and a video automatically plays whilst I’m reading it. Why should an advertiser pay for the impression that I actually haven’t seen?

    The argument isn’t about online video revenue funding a free news service, it’s about creating new TVC avails out of autoplaying video to an audience who isn’t necessarily seeing it.

  47. Pete from Sydney
    24 Jan 13
    3:23 pm

  48. David Taft, like you choose the ads in the mags or newspapers you buy (or used to buy)?

  49. Honey
    24 Jan 13
    3:45 pm

  50. I freakin’ HATE autoplay for videos!

  51. Riley Calaby
    24 Jan 13
    4:06 pm

  52. @Tim-tegration
    Of course I understand that ads pay the bills, which is why I leave adblocking off by default.
    But publishers need to realise that adblocking is now an option and that they have to tailor their strategy accordingly. If a website uses annoying, user-unfriendly advertising such as popups, autoplay video, or similar, then their decision to do that is going to cost them.

  53. Howzat
    24 Jan 13
    7:34 pm

  54. I HATE autoplay vids, especially on news sites. I work for a major player in the Aus media market and had this exact conversation a few days ago with 15 colleagues over lunch. Unanimous verdict; auto play sucks and it makes us resent the advertiser, some even avoiding the product out of spite.

    If you’re asking the question “When will these publishing dinosaurs learn?” then clearly the answer is NEVER.

  55. Puzzled
    24 Jan 13
    8:22 pm

  56. Myopia. They turn Auto-play on to drive up the streams. But surely the pissed-of user will reject this and it will drive down their various ‘engagement’ metrics. End position … more of a shittier user experience to sell. Less is more.

  57. Reader
    25 Jan 13
    1:10 am

  58. Do these newspapers realise how annoying those autoplay videos are when you only just want to read a story? It should be opt in not opt out. These videos also consume up download credit for those of us who have prepaid accounts.

  59. norelle feehan
    25 Jan 13
    1:02 pm

  60. thank you Scott, i sort of understand

  61. James
    25 Jan 13
    6:39 pm

  62. @Tim-Tegration. None of the above for 20 years or so.

  63. Realistic
    25 Jan 13
    8:03 pm

  64. @Norelle

    We don’t need rehashed pr. we can just follow the companies we like directly on social networks. Video we can watch on YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook.

    What we want from neutral third parties is unbiased, informative news.