It’s not that videos were totally absent from the news app before this, but they usually showed up as an accompaniment to articles — not exactly prominent placement when compared to the beautiful treatment that Flipboard would often give photos.
Now, CEO Mike McCue said videos are going to be a native part of the app, which means you’ll see standalone videos starting to show up in the smart magazines (which offer a personalized collection of stories around topics like cooking or photography) and elsewhere. Publishers can also connect related videos together into storyboards, allowing viewers to swipe from one video to another.
The new video formats will start appearing in Flipboard’s technology, news and lifestyle/entertainment categories. Initial partners for the video program include ABC News, CNBC, Hearst Digital Media and The Enthusiast Network.
McCue said that with these new formats, Flipboard can help publishers highlight all those videos they’ve been producing, while also turning the app into the definitive source of content around a reader’s passions — whether that content is an article, a podcast or a video.
He added that it’s not a coincidence that Flipboard is rolling this out so soon after launching smart magazines.
“First, we needed to pull together audiences around these passions,” McCue said. “Job two, the next phase that we’re now beginning, is to fill those feeds with awesome stuff.”
Plus, more video can help Flipboard make money, with these video units also supporting advertising. McCue pointed out that this is one of the first times Flipboard has included standard ad formats (specifically, VAST ads) — he said that most ad units “aren’t very good for the user experience,” but “video ads, when handled properly, can be a beautifully presented, welcome part of the experience.”
Speaking of user experience, Flipboard already turned on autoplay for video, resulting 38 percent increase in video consumption. However, any user who doesn’t want autoplay videos can turn them off entirely, or just when they’re not on WiFi.