Autoplay videos are coming to ruin Google Search

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Google is perpetuating content overload – common phenomena in 2017 – by testing the use of autoplay video for its search services.

The pop-up videos typically result from searches for movies and television shows, according to reporter Jennifer Slegg, who discovered the feature. They appear in the Knowledge Panel, which appears to the right of your results and contains basic information about the film or show you searched, such as release dates and cast lists.

Thankfully, it seems like sound only plays if the user clicks on the video, so you can avoid the mad dash to mute your computer after an innocent search. The autoplay feature only seems to appear on desktop, and most mobile searches result with a video in the Knowledge Panel that will only play if clicked on.

“We are constantly experimenting with ways to improve the Search experience for our users, but have no plans to announce at this time,” a company spokesperson told The SEM Post.

Don’t be shocked if the feature doesn’t pop up on your browser, though, since Google is most likely testing it with a select amount of users, rather than across the entire platform.

The feature could be a way to generate ad revenue for the company. Slegg noticed that the autoplay videos weren’t from official sources, meaning Google could market the space as a pay-to-place prospect: your video will show up in the Knowledge Panel for a price.

The feature’s existence and potential profits seem to be a step backwards considering Google announced in June that it will introduce an ad “filter” on Chrome starting next year to target intrusive advertisements, such as autoplay videos with sound – so perhaps the lack of autoplay sound is more of a self-serving characteristic than a kind pardon for users.

Google’s senior vice president of ads and commerce, Sridhar Ramaswamy, wrote in a blog post that the filter would still apply to ads even “owned or served by Google”.

Despite the borderline hypocrisy, internet users generally share a collective groan when it comes to autoplay videos, so maybe some scolding on social media will cause the company to hold off on the feature for now.


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