JW Player loads ads ahead of user-initiated playback so prerolls are ready to go when videos begin
At our annual JW Insights conference, we announced the final piece of the story that makes up the Buffer-Free Player—ad preloading. Since the first part of the story was released back in JW 7.2, we want to take a moment to remind you of everything that goes into reducing buffering. Understanding fully how it works is key to ensuring your player is optimized for improved user engagement and monetization.
“Speed is the bedrock of video experience success” —Bill Day, COO, JW Player, at JW Insights 2018
Speed is always top of mind when building features for the player. JW8 had a core mission around speed and in the months since release has proven to perform well in all environments, including those with many network requests or low bandwidth.
To recap the story of what it means to have a Buffer-Free Player, we can start by noting that preloading video content has been supported in JW Player for a long time. When there is no preroll ad, content can be preloaded before a user initiates playback to reduce the buffering time.
However, if there is a preroll ad, preloading the content wasn’t possible because the ad interrupted that process. We solved that problem in JW 8.1 by loading the video content while the ad is played, which resulted in 75% of plays starting up in less than a second, if not instantaneously.
In short, we can reduce buffering of video content when there are no ads and when running content after ads. There is however still a large gap in a buffer-free experience given that many of our customers run preroll ads. Content may start and resume quickly, but there’s still the dreaded ad buffering that happens first, and can lead to user drop-off before content starts as well as overall user pain.
Ad preloading takes the last major step toward a truly Buffer-Free player by making ad requests in advance of user-initiated playback, whether it be via clicking play or scrolling the player into view so that it autostarts. By doing so, the ad is fetched from the ad server early, even traversing wrappers and redirects that typically add extra buffering. By the time the user initiates playback, the ad is ready to go, cutting buffering time in half.
While there are some caveats to ad preloading as noted in our support documentation, such as not being able to preload VPAID ads, and not being able to preload when the player autostarts in view, it is undeniable that the reduction in buffering time is visually impressive in low-bandwidth situations.
The difference in a preloaded ad experience vs. one that wasn’t preloaded.
Ad preloading won’t be perfect for every use case, but it goes a long way in improving the user experience of your site and encouraging viewers to both stay on your site and come back in the future.
We are very excited to offer this new functionality, and feedback has been great in the early stages since release. We encourage you to have a conversation with your ad server about ad preloading and the logistics around reporting on preloaded ads, then turn the functionality on via your dashboard for a great improvement in user engagement.
To learn more about JW Player’s Buffer-Free Player, schedule time to speak with a video expert.