Twitter Makes Auto-Play Official, Adds Viewability Promise

As Twitter searches for a new leader, the company continues to roll out fresh features. Now, native videos, Vines and GIFs will play automatically when users encounter them in their timelines.

Baljeet Singh, product director of media, TV and video at Twitter, said simplicity was at the heart of the change. “It used to be that watching a video on Twitter required several taps,” Singh said in a blog post. “That extra effort meant you could miss something that you care about.”

Tapping a video will turn on sound and expand its size. Also, if users manipulate their mobile devices to view videos in landscape mode, the sound will automatically turn on and the video will expand to fill their screens.

For advertisers, Twitter says it will only consider a view to be “chargeable” when a video is 100% in-view on users’ devices and has been watched for at least 3 seconds. “We’re putting this standard of 100% viewability in place because we think it’s simply the right thing to do,” David Regan, senior product manager at Twitter, writes in a new blog post.



Twitter also says it plans to work with various third-party verification vendors to give advertisers more confidence that their Promoted Video content is indeed reaching the desired viewers. “Twitter is in active discussions with both Nielsen and Moat to provide third-party verification of the metrics of Promoted Video campaigns,” according to Regan. In tests, Twitter says the auto-play video feature has been well received among users and advertisers. Participating brands saw a 700% increase in completions of Promoted Videos, according to internal figures. 

Users were 250% more likely to prefer auto-play videos over other viewing methods, including click-to-play, and 14% more likely to recall the videos they saw.

In an effort to simplify its service and appeal to a broader audience, rarely a week goes by without Twitter tweaking this or that feature. Yet analysts say the changes haven’t gone far enough and insist that Twitter needs effect more fundamental changes in order to survive.

“Twitter’s user experience looks almost exactly the same as it did nine years,” Forrester analyst Nate Elliot told Social Media & Marketing Daily last week.

Forrester’s research shows that marketers are spending less on Twitter and believe they are getting a bigger bang for their buck on Facebook and other rivals, Elliot said. “It seems to have lost touch with marketers.” If users don’t like the auto-play function, they can revert to the previous click-to-play experience in their settings."

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