HATED: Ad agency ditches Fairfax over video autoplay deception

Illustration: Truth and LieAd industry website Mumbrella reports that a leading agency “UM” has banned their clients’ ad from appearing on Fairfax websites because the company lied about whether users hate the incredibly annoying, inconvenient and disrespectful “autoplay” of videos when pages load.

The decision will hit the Fairfax bottom-line because UM’s clients are some of the biggest spending in online advertising including the big-spending Federal Government, Coles, Microsoft and Sony Pictures.

Most reputable sites do not autoplay videos as it seen as discourteous and presumptuous.

Fairfax has been caught out blatantly lying to advertisers about the user response to this disrespectful autoplay impertinence. This could potentially damage significant relationships for the listed company, already the most shorted stock on the Australian Stock Exchange with many in the market believing the conglomerate will be broken up, with the profitable red-neck radio business being spun off and regional print monopolies going to private equity who’ll love the steady and predictable returns that at least for now aren’t going to be eaten alive by online competition. Its daily newspapers, with the possible exception of the Fin Review, are doomed.

So the company has been trying to squeeze every last penny out of online, blasting internet users with screeching online ads and video reports they haven’t asked to watch, regardless of the time or place.

But it’s the lying about the reaction that is causing a massive industry backlash.

When Mumbrella editor Tim Burrowes interviewed Fairfax Digital’s MD of media Pippa Leary about the issue last year she claimed: “What’s amazing is 75% of people who come to the site watch those videos to completion. We test it constantly. We ask them those questions – overwhelmingly they come back and say no, we prefer to stop it.”

…UM’s own research also directly contradicts Fairfax’s claims. The agency surveyed a sample of 500 people who regularly visit Fairfax sites. It said that 96% of people found the practice “annoying”. And in a finding bringing into question the effectiveness of video ads in that environment,  44% of respondents saying they always muted their computer when videos played.

In damning research, UM found some 25% ditch the page completely when they get an autoplay video, 61% feel negatively towards companies with autoplay ads,

According to UM:

“This research contradicts a study presented to media agencies in 2010 by Fairfax stating autoplay was not as widely disliked as people thought.”

No-one likes being lied to and obviously Fairfax have played ad agencies for suckers on this for some time, chewing up lots of their clients’ money while making users hate the brands tainted by association with the annoying, unethical and disreputable Fairfax practice.


1 Comment

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One response to “HATED: Ad agency ditches Fairfax over video autoplay deception

  1. Freddy Freelancer

    A small correction…

    Universal McCann (or UM for short) is a media agency not an ad agency. They plan the media spending, not make the ads. However that puts them in an even more powerful position than many ad agencies, as they control the purse strings.


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