Twitter has introduced auto-playing video and animated GIFs to its official timelines in both the iOS application and on the web, with support for the feature coming to the Android app soon. The feature means that you’ll see native video uploaded directly to Twitter, Vines and GIFs uploaded to the service playback instantly as you scroll – similar to how video works on Facebook.
This is a feature that has been in testing with select users previously, but now it’s going to be in effect across the service for all users. Twitter is framing this as a way to keep users more informed, making them less likely to miss out on “the action,” while also acknowledging that it’s also a way to boost the advertising value of its platform.
Twitter’s President of Global Revenue Adam Bain explained via tweets that advertisers are only charged when a video is 100 percent in view in a user’s feed, so when the top or bottom is cut off the view doesn’t count. Twitter’s advertising blog elaborates that it also only charges advertisers when the video has been viewed for at least 3 seconds, provided again that it isn’t cut off in some way in the viewer’s feed. According to Bain, this qualifies Twitter video as among the best values in online video advertising in terms of the quality of what it defines as a “view.”
Autoplaying video is muted, which users will no doubt appreciate, and there’s even an option in settings to disable it (though it’s enabled by default). Clicking on any video changes to a full screen view of the content in question and unmutes the sound. Twitter is also offering an option to only autoplay over Wi-Fi to respect user data limits, and will automatically default to the old, click-to-play way of doing things for users in areas where there’s typically lower bandwidth allowances, or more expensive fees for data usage.
It’ll be interesting to see how users react to these changes; Facebook’s introduction of the same didn’t appear to cause any significant revolts, but Twitter is a different beast, and I could definitely see this getting a bit noisy depending on the size and makeup of a user’s follow group.