Google has confirmed with Search Engine Land that they are running a small experiment where they auto-play videos in the search results page. Jennifer Slegg spotted the test this morning after conducting some test searches using Internet Explorer. The video in the knowledge panel will auto-play if you are in this experiment.
A Google spokesperson confirmed this limited test, telling us “we are constantly experimenting with ways to improve the search experience for our users, but have no plans to announce at this time.”
Jennifer Slegg, who was able to replicate this test, wrote “when you do a search for some movies (and possibly television shows), Google will begin autoplaying a video in the right hand sidebar, appearing within the knowledge panel.”
In the screen shot below, the play button seen in the right section of the video thumbnail would not be there, and the video and audio would instead play automatically.
This is a surprising move for Google, even as an experiment, as Google likes to keep the search results unobtrusive. Auto-playing videos is not what the searcher would expect for most queries and can be something that users would find annoying.
If the user searched for something like [watch game of thrones] with the qualifier of “watch” then it would make sense but without it, probably not.
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