Updated with comments from Jim Cramer.
NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- By allowing users to access and upload auto-playing videos and animations on their time lines, Twitter (TWTR) is trying to prove to advertisers there's value in its service.
Whether that happens, though, remains to be seen.
With this new move, it is clear that Twitter is going after an even larger slice of the exploding spending in the mobile-ad market, which could top $100 billion worldwide for the first time next year, according to market-analysis firm eMarketer.
The new auto-playing feature, which has been in beta testing with limited rollout for most of this year, allows users to see moving videos and animated GIFs when they scroll through their time lines, albeit muted for sound. When users click on such selections, videos will enter full-screen, audio-enabled mode. Users can also interact with this new content by retweeting, making it a favorite or commenting as they do with other tweets.
"It isn't about video, it is about ease of onboarding and event-following that would bring back the growth," said TheStreet's Jim Cramer, Portfolio Manager of the Action Alerts PLUS Charitable Trust Portfolio. "Just go all @Sacca and it will happen."
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Twitter is clear that as much as it hopes to further engage its users, the move is a way to boost the advertising value of its service.
Adam Bain, Twitter's president of global revenue, said in tweets last week the company has found in tests that consumers have better recall of video using the auto-play function. The company "saw a significant 14% lift in video recall over other video formats," he wrote.
Advertisers will be charged every time a video is expanded to full-size view for more than three seconds, and such views will also be confirmed by third-party verification. According to Bain, that "makes a Twitter Promoted Video campaign one of the highest quality views, if not THE highest quality video view in the industry."
This year, 30% of global ad dollars will be spent online, up 5% from last year, with the highest penetration in the demographic of 12- to 44-year-olds, according to eMarketer. Those groups also represent a 59.2% audience share, with market penetration ranging from 88% to 96%, and the pattern will persist for at least the next four years.
But there is another, parallel trend afoot that could make Twitter more important as a highly targeted, advertising-supported, free-viewing broadcasting platform.