Adventures In Stupidity: Self Starting Videos

Some things sound like such the great idea when first contemplated. Some take on the aire of “genius” when first contemplated, discussed, and reviewed within the beige colored walls and veneered covered conference tables of many a marketing and advertising executive meeting. Where the roll out of what will at first be described as “sensational” will in the end result in what will be labeled “a plague” by end users. Today, in my opinion, that plague is: the self-starting video ad/infomercial/news story/or whatever.

Over the last year using only my own research that’s based on my own interactions with websites where this latest phenom has inserted itself within the websites of news purveyors, shopping portals, and nearly everything else under the sun. I have found myself not only no longer visiting these sites in as much frequency as I once did. I’ve also found myself many a time near instantaneously deleting the bookmark I’ve had to the site as to near insure I just won’t casually go there again. Why? Because every time I have, regardless of how much I try, there will be some new or strategically placed video that will start either immediately, or, will start may seconds later just when I’ve let my guard down and began reading or searching within their site to either consume their wares or read their offerings.

Suddenly either my speakers (or worse my headphones!!!) will blare with either music or talk that either nearly deafened me, scares me enough to spew my coffee, or both. I can’t tell you how many times I have literally shouted obscenities in such voracity, as well as furor it would make many a belligerent sailor blush.

First off; one of the great truths that still seems lost on today’s marketing web savvy is the fact that audio levels from one user to another will never be at the same starting point. Computers, phones, tablets et al many times are used to watch video, but what they are not more often than not is video dedicated only e.g., they’re not televisions. Yes, they can act like TV’s as they can like radios, but what they’re used for more often than not is – reading, or typing. If you’re over the age of consent that is.

When I’m sitting and watching my TV I have a built-in expectation that when I switch a channel the video is going to be running in real-time. I also have an expectation of where the volume level is for I have set it appropriately as I’ve been watching. The audio and the video goes hand in hand in the television scenario. And anyone reading this should comprehend the obvious as to what I’m implying. So let’s use this equivalent base and apply it using how today’s self-starting videos would work in your living room based on how they’re working on the web.

You turn on your TV and after watching a recent action thriller you decide you’re feeling a little inquisitive and want to view some old-time silent movies from the past as to see how the use of cinematography was used to make up for no sound. You turn on the set and turn to a channel that supposedly states they’re the “best” or have “the most” silent films in their archives. This channel has done all it can in first impressions for you to tune in with enough superlatives and marketing jargon anyone can muster to make you take the chance and “click here!” And you do.

The movie begins however, about 3 minutes in it begins to flutter (or buffer as the old saying goes). Then once it begins again suddenly you are hit with what sounds like the theme from Star Wars® set to 11 reverberating throughout your living room. In a panic you scramble for the remote but in this frenzy it now seems to not be where you first grabbed. Now it’s either fallen off the couch or chair from your excitement when you jumped, or it’s fallen between the cushions. All while it sounds like you personally invited John Williams complete with orchestra to set up in your domicile for a live performance.

Could it be any worse? Yep, if you’re like me and are accustomed to wearing headphones most times – it sure is. For not only will my ears be near bleeding, so to will my teeth as I look for where I impulsively launched the headphones from off my ears into the great beyond as to try to save my ears from permanent damage. I’ll be lucky if the only damage from this will be the headphones themselves. Rather than the phones, television, plaster, or combination there of because the launching and ricochet effect comes into play more often than not.

If this happened once it would be too many. But if this scenario happened near 25% if not more of the time? No matter what you were watching? Would you tolerate it? I would venture to say you wouldn’t. Yet, this is exactly what is happening today across the web as many sites (and many of these are world known branded names) are placing on their sites in a desperate grab for any and all possible income. Minute or minuscule as it may be.

It’s ruining many an interaction (and for many this is both their first impression as well as interaction with the site instilling an almost certain death knell for a second chance) and near immediately ensuring not only does one have a bad impression after it happens, that “impression” may actually move one to ensure they’ll never have that “impressed” on them again. Which is the exact opposite of what one should be trying to achieve.

Here’s why this one ranks high in my “”stupidity” list…

You know the people in charge are doing one of two things: Either never shopping their own websites where all the above would happen to them and they don’t know about it which in its own right is an inexcusable matter. Or, they know these effects because if one peruses the web in near any manner they’ve been on the receiving end and they know the feeling. Yet, they let it stand on their own because they are desperate for any income regardless of the effect it may have on their brand and customers which again – is inexcusable.

All I know on this subject is my of my own experiences. And as of right now I consider this form of “advertising” to be the dumbest and least thought through since New Coke® or the old adage about a new dog food campaign. It sounded and looked good in the marketing department. But in the end: people wouldn’t drink it, nor the dogs eat it. And if they’re to keep pushing this garbage out as “advertising” what it won’t be known for is “genius” but what it truly represents: stupidity.

© 2015 Mark St.Cyr