Fairfax Digital COO: Autoplay video is a commercial reality – for now

Fairfax Digital’s COO Nic Cola has responded to yesterday’s heated debate around the company’s policy of autoplay videos, saying that for now the policy is a “commercial reality”.

Cola’s comments follow yesterday’s Mumbo Report interview with Fairfax’s Digital’s MD – media, Pippa Leary – who is now on maternity leave – in which she said that the company believed that users preferred autoplay.

Cola said that the company was investing in providing free content and that it needed to find ways of getting revenue against that, and he added that he felt some of the more “personal” comments about Leary were poor form.

In a statement he told Mumbrella:

“We juggle our commercial needs with the needs of our users every day, as you would expect given that we provide the content for free online. We believe that video content online is critical not only for the news reporting that we do, but also to drive the online advertising industry forward. We continue to invest significantly in staff and content to fuel that growth and we do push it on our sites.

“We’re always evolving what we do and how we do it. Will auto-play be on our sites permanently? Maybe not, but for now, they are a commercial reality of our current approach. We make changes to our approach based heavily on user feedback and take care to balance that with industry interests as well. Six months ago, we walked away from a substantial revenue stream in FDTV (pop-up video ads) despite the fact it is still being sold by other publishers.

“Let me finish by saying that I am disappointed with several of the comments posted here. Pippa, as you know, has been in the industry for well over 10 years and is widely admired and respected. We’re always open to a healthy debate, but some of these comments have appeared to be simply personal attacks on Pippa which I consider to be poor form.”


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