Google has begun testing putting one of the most divisive features of the modern web experience, the auto-playing video, directly into search results.
The feature, which puts the auto-playing video at the top of search results as part of the knowledge panel for certain searches, was spotted by Jennifer Slegg for search specialist site the SEM Post. Searches for information about movies or TV shows pops up the video in the right-hand sidebar, which automatically plays once without ads.
A Google spokesperson said: “We are constantly experimenting with ways to improve the search experience for our users, but have no plans to announce at this time.”
The videos automatically play for desktop users only, and are shown but require a tap to play for mobile users.
Slegg said: “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.”
Autoplay videos have become an increasingly annoying part of modern internet life. Facebook’s decision to first begin automatically playing video within its news feed was faced with complaints from users, and again when the company decided to make those same automatically playing videos play with sound.
For Google, which is planning to radically alter its home page for the first time since 1996, the inclusion of autoplaying videos in search results could prove at least as divisive. In some ways, Facebook users are opting in to being actively engaged with or entertained, while searchers are more likely looking for information rather than entertainment.
In June, Google confirmed that it will build an adblocker directly into its Chrome browser that will block, among other things, autoplaying video ads with sound. This likely means that while content videos might automatically play within search results, adverts will not.