Twitter tests auto-play videos on smartphones

Twitter Headquarters

Mobile internet army, prepare to lift up your virtual pitchforks once more: Twitter is the latest social network to test videos that play automatically in its mobile apps.

The company follows Facebook and Instagram in its desire to see whether users will tolerate videos that play without being tapped on - including advertisements.

“We’re running a small test on a few variations in the video playback experience,” a Twitter spokesperson told Advertising Age.

Its report gave some detail about those variations:

“This autoplay video test will apply to Promoted Video ads, videos that users upload through Twitter’s mobile app and clips that are part of its Amplify program, which lets companies like ESPN and the NFL post videos with pre-roll ads, according to a person familiar with the matter. Videos that originate in Vine, Twitter’s company’s six-second-video app, will not play automatically on Twitter as part of this test.”

According to the report, one test will see entire videos playing on a loop, while another will simply loop a six-second preview of the main video.

The news follows Twitter’s launch of a native video feature in January, enabling its users to upload 30-second non-looping videos that would then play within users’ timelines.

The company’s Amplify initiative launched in 2013, though, and has been used by a number of broadcasters and brands to distribute highlights of sports, music and other popular televised events.

Twitter’s test, which for now is only for its iOS apps, follows Facebook’s announcement in December that video ads for mobile apps would automatically play within its news feed. Tests of auto-playing videos began within its apps in September 2013.

Instagram videos have also automatically played for some time now, and last month the company changed its app to make them loop infinitely while on-screen as well.

What about those pitchforks? All these moves have sparked protests from a sizeable group of users of these social networks, with fears of spiralling data usage when their smartphones are not connected to a Wi-Fi network, and accusations that auto-play videos serve advertisers rather than users.

However, the protests have tended to settle down fairly quickly, and that is likely to be the case here, with Twitter under more scrutiny from its keenest users over any plans to mess with their unfiltered reverse-chronological timelines.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Stuart Dredge, for theguardian.com on Tuesday 24th March 2015 07.49 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010