You must have seen and heard that Facebook announced some major changes to their video platform last week. It includes ‘auto play’ of videos with sound by default. It means, whether you are using FB on desktop/laptop or a smartphone, in all news feed, wherever there is a video content or video ad, the video starts playing along with Audio. The settings went on changing, and now the sound fades as your scroll passes the video. This testing went on for a long time and based on test results and ‘competition,’ FB decided to implement this change.
Criticism and Sound options:
If the phone sound settings are ‘on’ and you are scrolling through the news feed containing videos, then there is a sound associated with it. The Autoplay feature is not new to social media and the way it used to work has changed a lot. The main criticism was there as you may be only scrolling the FB news feed to check for any updates, without any intention of viewing any videos, but still, the video starts with audio. If the place of browsing is Office or any place where watching social videos is not a norm, it leads to uneasiness amongst the users. The freelance websites are publishing their views.
Reasons to Autoplay Video with sound
User Engagement: FB thinks that the autoplay of video and sound is better for improved engagement and keeping the users on FB for a long time. As the average span of concentration has reduced over last many years, the video is a medium all websites want to use to engage the audience. YouTube is the best example of it, and other sites like Twitter are also auto playing the videos.
Change in Strategy: Both recorded and live streaming videos have become core functions of Facebook operations and as the same platform is there for text, audio, and video; the change in strategy is a key reason for this decision. With the analysis of user actions, FB seems to have convinced that a shift to video-based social networking will keep it on the market for a long time in the already competitive market.
The result of Testing: The Facebook video autoplay project was going on for a long time, and the testers liked it. These are called ‘beta testers’ who are actual users asked to contribute to a new release by providing their feedback. These users/testers gave a positive feedback which contributed to this decision.
Competition: As you know, major decisions today on the social media have their roots in completion, and this decision also has completion as a key reason. Snapchat and Twitter are already doing it, so why not FB?
Preference of Advertisers: Audio is the main component of an advertisement and running mute videos was not a good choice for the businesses. They are paying for each display ad, and each click of your mouse and the publishers like Facebook will have to consider the choice and preferences of businesses who are running paid campaigns on FB. They are the ones who are sponsoring all content and not the readers/normal users! They see that an effective ad must have an audio associated with it ‘by default.’
The subtitle task: For mute ads and videos, you have to keep showing subtitles to have some context for the users. It can be boring and look like an age-old video, or it can distract the viewers from the main content or the message the advertiser wants to give. Adding subtitles is another task for ad agencies and enabling the voice is the only solution to all these concerns.
Copyright Issues: The way text, audio, and video are separately having licences, the video-audio combination also has copyright laws. It means, your video should have both visual and audio content as copyright, and that makes it unique and easy for the publishers to publish on their websites safely. Using a famous song as a background for your video may be entertaining, but may be an issue for the publisher.
Adopting to Wireless Technology: As everyone wants to use Wi-Fi in all digital applications, there is a large potential still left after Apple’s wireless earphones, which FB may like to explore. In tomorrow’s world, everyone would like to use wireless headphones/earphones which means, you can listen to the music while watching video anywhere and with privacy.
Growth Factor: Any company, especially in the internet domain carries a lot of analysis of every single data they capture from your browsers and cookies. FB has seen that its growth over last few years has video as a major contributor. The investors like to see FB making use of the factors which contributed to the growth.
Volume Control: FB wants to leave the decision of playing a sound to physical volume on/off on your mobile. The idea is if the user has left volume ‘on,’ by default he/she will expect that a video will play along with the sound. If you switch your phone to ‘silent/vibrator’ mode, there is no sound for any video.
User Feedback: Some users will keep complaining about the new features but some users will either like it or will stay neutral to this change and FB will continue with its changes. So, with that said, FB says they have received positive feedback so far.
Autoplay Settings: You can turn Facebook’s video autoplay settings on or off. To stop videos from playing automatically on your computer, you go to the settings tab, select Videos and from drop-down select whether you want to keep the option on/off. Similarly, you can check for specific settings for your type of phone/tab and can switch this setting as per your choice.
As Facebook sees Video as a major player in their success, they have decided to go ahead with autoplay of sound with video on their social networking platform. Some users are against it, but considering many other reasons listed here, it seems FB will continue to have the feature and users will get used to it after a few days or those who don’t want it, will just switch the feature ‘off.’ The decision may affect the freelance web designers who are involved in making of ads and video content. Your sound settings get considered, and they are not over-ridden by FB settings.