A co-worker sent me an amazing article from Wistia yesterday, about moving background imagery (aka, autoplaying video) on websites titled "6 Reasons Why You Shouldn't Have An Autoplaying Homepage Video."

I like this article for a few reasons.

1. Wistia is a video company, which has every reason to tout autoplaying video on homepages.

2. They've included their real data from their homepage, stating:

Results with no autoplaying video:

  • 53% increase in organic traffic to the homepage
  • 7% increase in sign-ups
  • 4% improvement in exit rate

3. They include a lot of information when you actually read the article about HOW to have autoplaying video AND still have effective engagement and conversion rates.

The video-based homepage was thin on text. Moving to a more traditional, text-heavy HTML format meant that the page could rank for more terms on Google search, thus appearing "richer" to Google algorithms and resulting in better ranking for competitive queries.

Additionally, the decision to change the main CTA from watching a video to encouraging users to visit another page and begin the process of signing up for an account, likely also helped conversions.

The exception to the rule

Autoplaying homepage videos, while they’re mostly bad in my view, do have some hope...

When they’re hardly videos at all.

Allow me to explain. Videos which are essentially just slow-moving images (e.g. somewhere between a static image and a video) can work well, but only when they do not distract the user’s peripheral and focal attention away from the CTA.

The idea is to allow the eye to rest on the main CTA before it can become distracted by other, less relevant information. Sites that accomplish this can in fact add a level of emotional and visual richness to the overall user experience with video.

“The idea is to allow the eye to rest on the main CTA before it can become distracted by other, less relevant information.”

4. It's important to realize that the data that says it didn't work for Wistia doesn't mean that it won't work for you and your business.

Our 2018 Data Download actually completely contradicts the data, showing that of the 325+ Google Analytics accounts we aggregated data from, those with moving background imagery (autoplaying video), actually had a 20-40% lower bounce rate (higher engagement rate) from those that didn't.

This brings me to my main point. You will see great data. From us, from amazing companies like Wistia, and from other sources. Data is great, but don't forget the context.

This means, make decisions based on data closest to your business. If you don't have a great sample size, find data close to or in your exact vertical.

Something like autoplaying video may work really well for accounting firms, but NOT for fashion eCommerce stores.

Additionally, certain fashion eCommerce stores may find that it actually works for them.

And vertical specific is just the beginning of context. Business goals, brand awareness and website copy and content is also a huge factor.

What if the video you're autoplaying SUCKS?

Punchline: A/B Test Everything.

Video vs. Non-Video.

Video A vs. Video B.

It's easy to do this, and you will find the best conversion rates this way.

So great article by Wistia, because they include a lot of good information to put things in context, but my fear is that if you only read the headline, you miss all of it.

Don't be a headline reader, and don't forget that data should be applied within the context of your business.

Hit me up with any questions on A/B Testing, WordPress Design and Development or Google Analytics anytime at

Thanks for reading, watching and listening, and have a great day!


Paul Hickey, Founder / CEO / Lead Strategist at Data Driven Design, LLC has created and grown businesses via digital strategy and internet marketing for more than 10 years. His sweet spot is using analytics to design and build websites and grow the audience and revenue of businesses via SEO/Blogging, Google Adwords, Bing Ads, Facebook and Instagram Ads, Social Media Content Marketing and Email Marketing. The part that he’s most passionate about is quantifying next marketing actions based on real data.

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