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We do know autoplaying videos is bad.

When users arrive at a webpage, they don’t appreciate being surprised by video or audio content that begins playing without their consent. Video, and the accompanying audio, can confuse or distract users, and can interfere with their consumption of content on the page.

But lets assume that user is fine with autoplaying video or they clicked play on the video. When user then starts to scroll the webpage past the video, video minimizes to the edge of the page, still playing.

Here is an example of one such video from Helsingin Sanomat. Screenshot of the same page:

News webpage with minimized video on the right sidebar.

Has anyone done or read studies concerning how users attend on these kind of videos? To me it seems users' attention is on the news text itself. Does this attention differ if the video playing is an ad?

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  • Have not read anything on this, but in my own experience, I find it distracting. I tend to let the video play (especially if I have my sound off), but I learn and retain information more effectively when I read it. Oct 17 '18 at 0:28
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I'd say it was very bad design.

Our peripheral vision is designed to pick up movement ( for the evolutionary reason of spotting the sabre toothed tiger before it sinks its claws into your flesh ).

Anything moving in peripheral vision is therefore particularly distracting - you can't really see it, but you detect the motion.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peripheral_vision

( you can use the peripheral vision effect to advantage at business networking events: if you move your hand through the peripheral vision area of someone who is busy talking to someone else, they will detect movement and pull out of the conversation. At which point you make eye contact and pitch in :-)

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  • I don't think this is a bad design. The user already clicked "play" and then scrolled away. We don't know why they scrolled away. Could be attention deficit, could be some other reason. There could be times they want to turn it off, other times they might want or even need it to continue playing and being readily accessible. This pattern is a good balance. I would never recommend continuing to play a video out of view. And on mobile, where scrolling is inevitable, videos should never continue playing. So platform is important, too.
    – MRL
    Mar 31 at 4:50
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I've noticed that YouTube has now implemented a similar functionality. I haven't seen a study specifically addressing user experience with these in-corner videos playing, but I'd imagine it is fair to assume that a video playing while scrolling a page is going to add to cognitive load which, in turn, can reduce usability. Here is the NN/group article on this subject. Playing an in-corner video clearly adds to visual clutter on the page but it also adds the element of audio, which likely makes it harder to concentrate on text that you're reading. Have you ever tried to concentrate on reading text while also listening to someone talking in the background? For myself at least, I know that it's a challenge. But of course, this is just a hypothesis that would have to be properly tested.

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  • If the video is going to continue to play (while I scroll), I'd prefer it to be pinned so I can easily access it, and even stop it from playing (if needed). I kind of see it as a usability enhancement.
    – Axel
    Jul 19 '18 at 0:04
  • Axel, agreed 100%. The pinned in the corner continuing to play can go both ways--sometimes it will be distracting and I'll want to shut it off, and other times I might be drawn to it and want (or even need) to focus my attention on it. Since I already clicked "Play" to start playing, I think it's reasonable to pin it to the corner while I scroll, and could even be beneficial--for instance, those who are easily distracted and scroll away from something they need to watch (ADHD, for example.) As long as it's never hidden out of view while continuing to play, this could be a good balance.
    – MRL
    Mar 31 at 4:46

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