Audio Autoplay Policy – what you need to know

You might have noticed that lately, when you land on a website, your audio not starts automatically or video start playing without sounds. This is the result of the new Chrome autoplay policy, which blocks sound from automatically playing without user consent. But what is this new policy and how will this affect media companies?

Let’s discover this new policy in more depth.

Chrome’s autoplay policy

Why did Chrome introduce autoplay in the first place? Chrome is not “just” a browser, but also a TV, a phone, a radio – explains John Pallet, Product Manager and Media Muter, Google Chrome, – and sometimes you just want to listen to your favourite playlist without hitting “play” every time. However, a lot of users got really annoyed by this, so much that Chrome needed to batten down the hatches and introduce new rules.

The new auto-play policy gives more playback control to users by providing them with a tailored and improved online experience: this means that Chrome learns your browser preferences and autoplay the sound of the video accordingly. For example, if you have already interacted with the domain (click or tap) or if you have previously played video with sound, Chrome recognises you as an active user and will start playing audio automatically. As Chrome’s policy states, muted autoplay is always allowed.

Chrome recognises your online behaviour thanks to MEI (Media Engagement Index), which measures (on desktop only) how a certain user tends to consume media on the site. The higher the “media engagement score”, the higher the chances that Chrome will autoplay audio on the website you’re visiting. You can check your own MEI at chrome://media-engagement internal page.

What happens if you don’t have browsing history? Chrome allows autoplay for over 1,000 sites where sound is played by the highest percentage of visitors; it will then remember your behaviour and change the whitelisted sites according to your preferences, delivering you a personalised browsing experience.

In general, Chrome’s new autoplay policy, enabled as of Chrome version 66, blocks at least half of unwanted audio.

What about the other browsers?

Safari is also working to block autoplay and give more flexibility to the users (and a more relaxing experience) to manage autoplay. For instance, Safari in macOS High Sierra blocks by default on most websites media with sounds and gives even more control to the users, by allowing them to choose where to play sound. This new “power-saving” feature will block autoplay on videos that are hidden in a background tab or off-screen.

How will LUNA-UNIVERSE respond to this policy?

LUNA UNIVERSE has currently deactivated this autoplay function because in the near future more and more browsers will further restrict this functionality.