Google Adds Autoplay Video to Search Results Page

If you hate when videos auto play, then you really won’t like this new feature in the Google search results.  Google is now autoplaying video when you do a search query that brings up a video in the knowledge panel on the right side of the results.  Yes, Google begins autoplaying the video when loading the search results page.

When you do a search for some movies (and possibly television shows), Google will begin autoplaying a video in the right hand sidebar, appearing within the knowledge panel.

And another example:

On a reload of the LEGO results, Google placed the autoplay video lower on the page, beneath Product Listing Ads.

Some ad blockers and browsers do prevent the video from playing automatically.  But for others, it will begin autoplaying without any prompt from the searcher at all, such as with Internet Explorer.

The videos seem to play with the sound turned off automatically, a searcher needs to click for the video to be heard.

The videos only autoplay once, they do not replay infinitely.

There are no ads associated with these videos either, although I did see a post-roll promo on one trailer to subscribe to the channel, which is pretty common for many video makers to try and bump their subscriber numbers, as well as branding in the middle of the video to like and subscribe from the person who uploaded the trailer.  However, when I clicked through to view one of the trailers (LEGO) on YouTube instead of in the search results, it added a pre-roll ad before it let me view the video.

Also worth noting is the query.  Neither queries were specifically looking for a video, but rather a release date or just information.  So while it could make sense Google would autoplay a video for a specific trailer or video content query, when you search specifically for the trailer, there is a featured snippet style video in the main search results column, but Google removes the video entirely from the knowledge panel.

The source of the video is also of note.  For US queries, the source of the video is from a Googlemovietrailers account (which isn’t clear whether it is an actual Google account or not) on YouTube, with this video.  But in Canada and the UK, the video used in the knowledge panel is from “Movieclips Trailers”with this video.  For the LEGO trailer, yet another source of the trailer was used.  So there does seem to be some opportunity to appear in knowledge panels that trigger the autoplay videos, as they do not seem to be “official” sources.

This appears to be a desktop only, which will be a relief for those concerned about bandwidth usage on mobile.  Google does add the video to the movie knowledge panel for mobile users, but it requires a click to play instead of the autoplay as it does on desktop.

I suspect there will be many unhappy users with this change.  It is a very bold move for Google to make a change that is quite an “in your face” approach, especially because Google’s results are very static in nature.  It will be interesting to watch and see if this expands beyond movies, and whether Google begins to include video ads within the search results for these as well.

Update: Google has now confirmed the autoplay videos.  A Google spokesperson told The SEM Post: We are constantly experimenting with ways to improve the Search experience for our users, but have no plans to announce at this time.

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