The move means that videos, GIFs and Vines that appear in users’ Twitter timelines will automatically begin to play on mute as they scroll through. Clicking on the video will take the user into full-screen mode with sound.
Autoplay has become a standard format on social media with rivals such as Facebook and Instagram already offering the feature. Advertisers like it because they feel consumers are more likely to notice ads and the content can make more of an impact.
Video ads can generate more ad revenues for Twitter than its ‘promoted tweets’ with the video ad market expected to top $7.77bn in the US alone this year, up from $5.81bn last year.
However, at the moment most of that money goes to Google – through YouTube – and Facebook, which introduced autoplaying video ads two years ago.
Brands have already started using the new Twitter feature, with Mountain Dew one of the first. It sent out five tweets containing GIFs which when viewed in its Timeline showed its product Baja Blast pouring from the sky and into a consumers’ mouth.
— Mountain Dew® (@MountainDew) June 16, 2015
Ramping up video ads is important for Twitter as it looks to boost its offering to marketers and increase revenues. The social network’s first quarter results disappointed in part due to slowing revenue growth.
Last week, CEO Dick Costolo announced he will step down at the end of July amid pressure from investors concerned over its future user and revenue growth.
Twitter believes its autoplay video ads have an advantage over its social media rivals due to its 100% viewability promise. Twitter says it will only charge advertisers when a video is 100% in-view on the user’s device and they have watched at least three seconds of the video.
“We’re putting this standard of 100% viewability in place because we think it’s simply the right thing to do. If a video is not 100% in-view we don’t think an advertisers should be charged,” says David Regan, senior product manager at Twitter, in a blog post.
The Interactive Advertising Bureau in the UK recommends a 70% threshold for viewability. Companies such as Yahoo have adopted the metric.
However brands have pushed back, calling for a rethink on digital ad viewability. Speaking at the Financial Times Marketing Innovators Summit earlier this month, Unilever CMO Keith Weed says digital ads must be 100% viewable, calling anything less “absurd”.
“Can you imagine your mum or dad going into store and buying 50 PG Tips only to get home and find there are only 45 inside because as an industry we’e agreed on 90% delivery?”
Keith Weed, Unilever CMO
Brands have welcomed the viewability metric. Heineken USA’s senior media director Ron Amram says the autoplay feature is a “win/win” for brands and users.
Twitter also said it is in discussion with both Nielsen and Moat to provide third-party verification with the aim of giving advertisers confidence that their ad content is reaching the right viewers with the right. Both Google and Facebook use their own software to verify viewability rates.
“We want our partners to have complete transparency around the effectiveness of their marketing efforts on Twitter,” says Regan.