Twitter wants you to watch more videos, so it’s going to helpfully auto-play them for you in its iOS app and on desktop.
“Your thumbs deserve a break,” the company tweeted Tuesday morning, because it just eliminated that extra tap needed to play GIFs, Vines, and in-line videos. Now instead of seeing a thumbnail with a play button, videos will just play on their own—muted at first, but with sound when you tap on it. If you’re watching a video in Twitter’s iOS app, turning your phone to landscape mode will make the video full-screen.
Adam Bain, Twitter’s head of revenue and partnerships, tweeted out some stats to support the move: People are 2.5 times more likely to prefer auto-play videos to “other methods,” and will “complete” viewing of a promoted video seven times more often if it autoplays.
Introducing autoplay & new standard for viewability. Advertisers will only be charged when a video is 100% in-view https://t.co/pQ66BC4085— adam bain (@adambain) June 16, 2015
Auto-playing videos can be incredibly annoying and also suck up a ton of data, so Twitter is giving you control over auto-play in your settings. You can turn it off altogether or choose to only auto-play videos when you’re connected to Wi-Fi.
The story behind the story: Not surprisingly, Twitter’s autoplaying videos are part of a larger advertising effort. The company just rolled out a new ad format, the Promoted Video, which it will only charge a brand for if the clip plays 100 percent in view for at least three seconds. Unlike its competitors, Twitter is also relying on a third-party company to verify that its video ads are viewable. People complain about autoplaying videos, but they do watch them, which should help Twitter make money. Facebook turned on auto-play for video ads last spring and saw a huge increase in video views, from 1 billion to 4 billion per day. Expect a year full of changes from Twitter, which is currently in the midst of a leadership shake-up after CEO Dick Costolo stepped down last week.