From autoplay to click-to-play

27 March 2018 - 4 min

The news has come: after Safari, Google Chrome will also limit the autoplay option for videos. Autoplay is the automatic playback of videos when opening the web page. This limitation has been around on mobile devices for years. And soon, that will also be the case for regular computers, such as desktops and laptops. 

You know it... You open a website and immediately start playing a video or, even worse, the video automatically starts playing with sound. So past time. Safari already introduced restrictions last year and from mid-April 2018 these will also apply in Google Chrome. The expectation is that the other major browsers (Internet Explorer, Edge, and Firefox) will follow later this year.

This, of course, also affects automatically starting your webinar with WebinarGeek. In this blog, we explain how it works and what will change.

An example of an internet "meme" made by irritated internet users about auto-play videos

The new rules for automatically playing video on websites

Only videos that start without a sound (muted) may still be played automatically. Furthermore, visitors must always manually click on play to instantly start the video. There are fundamental differences between the compatible browsers to discover how they deal with the rules of the game.

Safari and mobile browsers

In Safari and mobile browsers, it is fairly clear when it is allowed or not allowed. Read here more about Safari's policies.

Google Chrome

Google has decided to make things a bit more complicated with Chrome: automatic video playback with audio is not allowed unless:    

  • The user has already interacted with the website (clicks, touch).  
  • The user on the same website previously ( sufficient ) videos have played with sound.   
  • The user, on a mobile device, has added the website to his or her home screen.

You can here find more information about upcoming changes for Google Chrome for the autoplay function.

It may be understandable where it's going. Visitors obtain more control over the content on a website.

What this means for participants of your webinars

The most significant consequence is it may differ with each viewer how the webinar is started. One viewer will not have to perform anything to start the webinar, and the other will have to click on play manually.

This equally applies to our video injection: these are always new videos. They no longer constantly play automatically. At that moment a viewer must click on 'Start' again.

The consequences for you as an organizer

You may have to permit us in some cases during a live webinar to check whether your microphone is working properly.

Previously we were able to achieve this behind the scenes. You were notified if we could detect that your microphone didn't catch any sound. In that case, permission must be granted manually through an additional click.

The optimal viewing experience: what we changed for the viewers

The following product update includes several improvements to the viewing experience for all of your viewers.

For example, we undergo a rapid test behind the scenes to see if we can automatically play videos with sound.

Is that allowed? In that case, we definitely perform that. A viewer does not notice any of these changes.

Is automatic play not allowed? At that point, we present a play button. This provides a subtle animation to alert the viewer an action is required to start the webinar. See the image below.

Does the viewer not click play within the time? A text will subsequently appear to remind the viewer that the webinar must be started manually. You can see that in the image below.

Why did we choose not to play the webinar automatically without sound, as Facebook does with videos?

We have extensively researched this option with a test group. It turned out that this often caused confusion for viewers. Based on these extensive tests and user feedback, we have chosen to only play videos if this is also with sound. All or nothing.

Do you have questions or comments regarding these changes? Feel free to contact us!