Given the various misleading data points that X’s team has communicated since Elon Musk took ownership of the app, which are seemingly designed to give the impression that the platform is performing better than it actually is, it’s hard to trust the numbers that they do share, because we don’t have any way of verifying if what’s correct and what’s not.
But today, we have some new data from X, as part of a broader announcement of a new partnership with Integral Ad Science (IAS) on brand safety for vertical video ad placements.
As per X:
“A growing number of users are actively watching and posting videos on X, fueling the platform’s rapid expansion. X is now a video-first platform, with video being part of more than 8 in 10 user sessions, and we’ve seen views increase almost 30% year over year.”
See, even this statement is unclear, because it doesn’t provide enough context as to what that actually means. Is that overall video views or video views on average? In the past, you could ask Twitter’s comms department for clarity, but now, X doesn’t even have a communications team, so there’s no way of knowing what these figures actually represent.
But based on these numbers, video content is getting more attention in the app, while X also claims that more than 100 million people watch vertical video on the platform every day.
“Vertical video is the fastest growing surface on X. Over 100M people around the world are consuming vertical video daily at an average of over 13 minutes per day. On many days, vertical video accounts for around 20% of all time spent on the platform.”
When viewed in broader context, this makes sense, as the behavioral shift towards vertical video, led by TikTok and Instagram, would lend itself to similar trends in other apps. But X’s video player doesn’t open to the vertical player natively, with most users viewing video in-stream. And given X sees 244 million daily actives in total, that’s a lot of people that it claims are specifically tapping into video clips to view them, then scrolling through its video-specific feed.
So is that true? I don’t know, and we have no way to clarify.
Regardless, X is now looking to provide more assurance for brands looking to display their ads within this vertical video feed.
“Effective February 1, 2024, X will expand access to our successful vetted inventory pilot with Integral Ad Science, a leading global media measurement and optimization platform, to all US advertisers. In this partnership, IAS classifies all Vertical Video Ad adjacencies for brand safety and suitability aligned to the GARM framework.”
X says that this will give vertical video advertisers “maximum control over where their ads appear”. Which is important, given that a growing number of brands are pulling back on X ad spend, ostensibly due to brand safety concerns.
Though those concerns are arguably more centered on Musk’s own comments than ad placement.
In addition, X says that it’s hired more staff in its brand safety team to reinforce this element.
Again, it’s hard to gauge what exactly is going on at X, because of the various contradicting and misleading data points being shared and/or amplified by Yaccarino and Musk at different times.
For example, back in October, Yaccarino claimed that X users were spending an average of 32 minutes per day in the app, but based on recent data shared by Musk, it’s more like 23 minutes per day instead. Which may not seem like a wide discrepancy on the surface, but that’s a variance in engagement of around 30%.
Musk has also continued to amplify misleading data points, like website traffic numbers, as a means to suggest that X is outperforming Instagram and Facebook in traffic. Which it’s not, but X does generate a significant amount more visits via web browers, as opposed to IG and FB, which see some 90% of their activity in-app.
The framing of these stats seems like a deliberate attempt to mislead, and as a result, it makes it harder to trust all of X’s reported figures.
As a result, you pretty much have to discount the broader numbers, and focus instead on the specific engagement that you’re seeing, or not, in the app.
Is your target audience active on X? Are brands and influencers in your niche posting vertical video in the app?
If they are, then maybe you should experiment with the same, and see whether it works for your strategic goals.