Auto Play

By Mark Nuyens
4 min. read📱 Technology
TL;DR

The effect of automatically playing a video is an interesting phenomenon, designed to instantly capture our attention and not let go. How will this evolve in the future when it comes to AR/VR?

The flickering glow of a screen, a mesmerizing dance of light and color – video has an undeniable power to capture our attention. From the early days of television to the endless scroll of TikTok, video has become an inescapable force in our lives. But what is it about this medium that turns us into zombies, and what are the potential consequences of its ever-growing presence?

The captivating nature of video could be traced back to our primal instincts. The flickering flames of a fire in the Stone Age held our ancestors' gaze, offering warmth, light, and a sense of security. Today, the flickering pixels on our screens trigger a similar response, drawing us in with their vibrant colors and dynamic movement. This makes video a powerful tool for advertisers and content creators, who leverage its captivating nature to grab our attention to influence our behavior.

The rise of autoplaying video demonstrates this power. Whether it's a calming video for a restless child, an engaging ad on LinkedIn, or a news story that demands our immediate attention, video bypasses our conscious choice and inserts itself directly into our field of vision. This can be effective for engagement, but it also raises concerns about manipulation and controlling our digital experiences.

In addition to YouTube, Instagram has also been testing more aggressive ad displays. Regardless of whether this new form of advertising gains acceptance among all users, it indicates how tech companies are experimenting with new methods for generating ad revenue. Meanwhile, both teenagers and adults spend hours watching short clips on TikTok, a platform that has also begun recognizing this leverage.

While one could argue how simply paying for these services would solve the issue, reality seems to be more complex. As I've written before in my article titled YouTube Ads, companies like Meta and Google may actually prefer the ad-supported model over one that is subscription based, since ads may just generate more than user fees. The question is, however, if we actually have a choice.

As new digital products are being created at a high rate, I believe the immersive nature of video will become even more present. Virtual and augmented reality headsets offer the potential for video to surround us completely, creating highly realistic experiences. However, this also raises ethical concerns about the potential for manipulation and the exploitation of our vulnerabilities.

Meanwhile, the increasing powers of artificial intelligence adds another layer of complexity. At some point, AI-generated video will be tailored to our individual preferences and vulnerabilities, creating personalized experiences that are quite difficult to resist. Even though we might consider relevant ads to be a good thing, there is a chance this will invade our privacy.

In conclusion, while video offers undeniable benefits in terms of entertainment, education, and communication, its captivating nature also raises concerns about manipulation and privacy. I think we should be cautious when we're offered free products, as they may ultimately leverage their position to expose us to ads and other paid content, with or without our awareness or consent.