Twitter is weighing a difficult decision, one that not only could disrupt the traditional order of things at the social network but also may well be the key to keeping up with Facebook and YouTube: to hit or not to hit autoplay on video.
Twitter is divided over whether to allow videos to simply start playing when users scroll over them. It is a feature already adopted by Facebook, but one that scares Twitter purists who don’t want it to stray farther from its text-based roots, according to industry insiders with knowledge of the company’s video strategy.
“It’s an argument that’s happening—a tug of war,” said one.
Twitter remains cautious, even though video has become an important tool for the service as consumers and brands have embraced it.
Twitter bought SnappyTV earlier this year, and its Amplify ad program, which relies heavily on video, is one area where it has a jump on Facebook. Amplify allows Twitter to partner with sports and entertainment brands like the NFL, which share videos against which the brands sell sponsorships. Twitter said 25 campaigns are currently live on Amplify, a peek for the program. Since launching last year, there have been more than 100 Amplify partnerships touching on everything from the Oscars to the National Basketball Association.
The debate over autoplay is not a trivial one—it would be a major shift on a platform still struggling to find the right formula to appeal to the widest number of consumers.
In a worrying sign just last week, Instagram surpassed Twitter in the number of total users—300 million versus 284 million. Facebook-owned Instagram also has tremendous video potential.
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