The Winners of Hackweek

With free rein to experiment, JW Player engineers create innovative solutions to overcome unique challenges

The results are in! Last month, our engineers experimented with new ideas and projects over a five-day Hackweek competition. With the goal to “provide an outlet to ideate, innovate, and create cool stuff in a self-organized way,” Hackweek encouraged novel approaches to problem solving—regardless of how directly they were tied to current JW Player products. Our product and engineering staff, including the top 3 winning teams, certainly didn’t disappoint.

 

In the spirit of cross-team collaboration, Hackweek brought together talent from various departments, giving everyone a full week to complete their projects during regular business hours.

In total, we saw:

  • 79 ideas submitted
  • 19 ideas worked on
  • 17 ideas presented
  • 14 different teams

Participants were judged on the following criteria:

  • Originality/novelty
  • Technical difficulty
  • Competitiveness
  • Presentation

Many projects scored highly for their “disruptive” potential, while others were recognized for their applicability to JW Player challenges and workflows. As one organizer put it, Hackweek featured a compelling dynamic between projects that were “candy” (possibly changing future product roadmaps and revenue streams) and those that were “medicine” (addressing pressing organizational needs).

 

At the end of the competition, three projects made it to the top:

  • UNO: Up Next Optimization
    A solution for surfacing recommended videos before viewer drop-off, based on data-driven predictions
    By: Evol Greaves, Doug Shore, Alex Halter, Graham Edge

 

  • Page Analyzer
    A tool that uses AI to help publishers improve their video titles, descriptions, and captions
    By: Kamil Sindi

 

  • SIGINT – Signals Intelligence Report
    A method for reducing overhead and facilitating cross-team collaboration via automated visualizations of complex ticket dependency graphs
    By: Greg Twohig, George Ponick

 

Each winner will receive up to $250 to go towards a group activity, an engraved trophy, and, of course, eternal glory.

As SVP of Technology, John Luther, shared, “Hackweeks are important cultural events. They are one of the things that define JW Player’s engineering ‘personality’ and make us unique.”

When it comes to staying true to our culture of innovation, Hackweeks are a hallmark of JW Player. Here’s to the next one in December 2018!

 

To learn more about the innovative video solutions of JW Player, schedule time to speak with a video expert.
 

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Video Advertising Quiz

Test your knowledge of the video ad ecosystem in our 5-minute assessment

Video advertising is now an $11.9 billion business. To get a share of the pie means speaking the language of the ad ecosystem. How much do you know about ad exchanges, CPMs, waterfalls, DSPs/SSPs, and more? Take the quiz—and discover best practices for boosting your ad revenue.


 

 

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Restoring Trust in the Digital Ecosystem

Experts at JW Insights weigh in on GDPR’s informed explicit consent, brand safety, and blockchain

You have a teenage daughter. For the first time, she’s dating. Guy #1 tells you he’s taking her to see a 3D screening of The Incredibles 2, grab cherry slushies and hot dogs at 7-11, and get gas at Chevron. Guy #2 simply tells you it’s going to be dinner and a movie. In both cases, you gave the go-ahead for the guys to take her out. But which one do you trust more to date your daughter? According to expert panelists at JW Insights, under GDPR, the clear winner in this scenario would be Guy #1.

 

For consumers around the world, concern over data privacy resembles, in many ways, the concern of a worried parent. Where is my personal data going, what’s going to happen to it, and what am I really agreeing to when I let others take it?

 

Answers to these questions get clearer with informed explicit consent, a new requirement under GDPR. In this analogy, said Kelley Anderson, VP of Data Protection & Privacy at Ericsson Emodo, both guys technically got permission. But while Guy #2’s intentions are unclear—perhaps he drove the daughter off to get leftover pizza and watch Netflix in the basement at a party 50 miles way, for example—Guy #1’s date is a lot less up for interpretation. Guy #1 is more trusted because he offered a greater level of detail and transparency, providing a better opportunity for informed explicit consent.

 

Informed explicit consent requires written or spoken consent statements to be clear, specific, and free of ambiguity. According to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO):

 

“The statement should specify the nature of data that’s being collected, the details of the automated decision and its effects, or the details of the data to be transferred and the risks of the transfer.”

What does this mean for publishers? For starters, “GDPR has tightened up contracts,” said Kelley. Whereas some of these contracts could’ve been “written on napkins” in the past, “now there are changes in indemnifications and warranties and making sure consent or compliance is there. Making transparency to the user more traceable…has definitely gotten a lot better.”

 

In light of publisher fears that these new processes will come at the cost of viewership, Bill Wheaton, EVP and Chief Strategy Officer at Akamai, said, “People will give permission if you use data the right away. But is has to be explicit. It has to be informed.”

 

 “People will give permission if you use data the right away. But is has to be explicit. It has to be informed.” —Bill Wheaton, EVP and Chief Strategy Officer, Akamai

Beyond protecting consumer data, transparency is also critical for preserving brand safety. As panelist conversations turned from GDPR to the ad ecosystem, Jason DeMarco, VP of Programmatic & Audience Solutions at A+E Networks, observed that “brand safety is a two-way street for buyers and sellers.” It allows advertisers to ensure that their ads run in relevant placements, and it helps publishers build associations with premium advertisers and increase the value of their inventory.

 

Panelists praised ads.txt, a tool from IAB that lists authorized sellers of publisher inventory, via a text file integrated into servers or programmatic platforms. Advertisers can then verify whether their ads are reaching the intended audience.

 

While innovations like ads.txt are changing how the industry is thinking about accountability and transparency, others—like blockchain—still have a ways to go. Bill said, “Blockchain needs to evolve beyond cryptocurrency.” Although blockchain’s distributed ledger opens the door for greater accuracy in reporting, due to technical challenges, it hasn’t yet paved the path to solutions that are “actionable in real-time,” said Jason. In short, the promise is there, but true impact needs time.

 

To watch the full session:

 

 

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Are Machines Taking Over the World?

At JW Insights, experts discuss machine learning’s impact on the future of digital media

Rooted in the idea that machines can be as smart as humans, machine learning applies the concept of artificial intelligence to learn from data and autonomously improve performance based on that information. At JW Insights 2018, industry experts, including JW Player’s SVP of Technology, John Luther, shared their thoughts on what machine learning can—and can’t—do in our rapidly evolving digital age. Here are three takeaways.

 

Machine learning improves editorial processes and monetization opportunities.

Without a doubt, companies are increasingly seeing concrete benefits from machine learning. Through the power of data, publishers can understand the content and performance of videos, where content should be distributed, and why some content does better than others.

Workflows have become more efficient too. “We don’t waste our time on tagging. We can focus on what’s interesting in producing content,” said Jana Meron, SVP Programmatic & Data Strategy at Business Insider.

Hillary Henderson, Senior Director of Product Management and Strategy at IBM Watson Media, added that intelligence-powered recommendations engines aren’t just important for engagement but also for monetization. “If you can better match content to the next video and achieve a double or triple lift in views, that’s important for advertisers to see,” she said.

 

Machine learning is a work-in-progress.

The apparent benefits of machine learning have sparked an even greater opportunity for growth. Machine learning is consistently evolving. “Everybody’s talking about it,” said Hillary. “But machine learning is just a tool; it’s as good as the data you put into it.”

And these data points are far from static. “People’s interests change. In terms of recommendations engines, it’s not just, ‘you’ll like this’ or ‘you’ll always choose this.’ The learning that machines have to do is much more of a process,” said John.

 

Calm down, machines aren’t going to rule the world.

While machine learning has driven unprecedented innovation, panelists reached the consensus that it will never fully replace human ingenuity. “There’s this belief that data can solve anything. There still has to be a human element to it,” said John. Jana agreed, saying that, “People are very important. Machines are not taking over the world.”

 

For more posts from our JW Insights blog series, click here.

To learn about how JW Player can support your video business, schedule time to speak with a video expert.

 

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Driving Business Growth with Video Analytics

Paul Bannister of CafeMedia shares tips on setting up data analytics for video success

When it comes to using data to grow your video business, the numbers don’t lie. Getting to the truth, though, requires an excellent grasp of video analytics. As Paul Bannister, EVP of digital media company CafeMedia, discussed at this year’s JW Insights, knowing which data points are important and how to use them strategically is an iterative process that takes both intuition and practice. Here’s some advice he shared with us.

 

Be clear about what you’re measuring

As you set up your analytics, make sure to communicate why you’re making the choices you make with other stakeholders. “You have to connect the dots,” said Paul. “Why this number and not that number in measuring engagement?” By being clear about what you’re measuring, you can funnel down from macro metrics to specific KPIs.

 

Focus on the metrics that matter to your business

Dig deep into those metrics that actually impact or drive your business. CafeMedia, for example, prioritizes play rate over the more conventional choice of completion rate as it develops an intent-to-watch experience for its viewers. “Completion rate is tracked, but it’s not the main measure. For us, play rate is more important,” said Paul. Once you’ve drilled into a particular metric, repeat the process again until you find the one(s) that tell the most relevant story.

 

Sit in the viewer’s seat

If your data is revealing something unexpected or askew about your video performance, get back to basics and assess everything from the viewer’s perspective. “Go look at the video. Is the page working?  User experience is everything. What the user is seeing—that will answer your question 90% of the time,” said Paul.

 

Understand the differences in measuring autoplay vs. click-to-play videos

By definition, autoplay videos don’t have a play rate. You will get more views, but the user experience tends to be more passive and engagement can be lower.

 

Click-to-play videos tend to produce a better user experience. But because viewers intended to watch a specific video, when they’re done, they may not continue onto another video, making it potentially harder to measure sustained engagement.

 

Extending interest means using a combination of tactics, including implementing a recommendations engine or building intriguing hooks within editorial content. (For example, a “How to Make Jambalaya” video features “roux” in the recipe. The next video in a playlist is “What Is Roux?”)

 

Click here to read more posts from our JW Insights blog series.

To learn more about using data analytics to grow your video business, schedule time to speak with a video expert.

 

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12 Takeaways from JW Insights 2018

What we learned about digital video at JW Player’s 5th annual conference

At JW Insights 2018, we explored everything from video intelligence and machine learning to monetization strategies and actionable analytics. It was a very full day of discussions with 300+ industry registrants, and we’ve put together 12 key takeaways from some of the best panels, keynotes, and fireside chats. Take a look below.

 

Takeaways from JW Insights

 

1. Test everything and test outside the normal boundaries, so your video business is flexible and ready for inevitable change.

2. One of the major issues in the video ad industry is VAST/VPAID errors, but until VAST 4.0 is widely adopted, we’re stuck with them.

3. Every media brand and video provider should be invested in OTT.

4. Speed is the bedrock of video experience success

5. In the age of GDPR, informed explicit consent is critical.

6. Brand safety and trust in the ad ecosystem are a two-way street for buyers and sellers.

7. Blockchain holds promise but needs to evolve much more for true impact.

8. Data can help content creators optimize distribution, diagnose anomalies, and integrate feedback.

9. Don’t solely rely on YouTube and Facebook to gain viewers — take control of your owned and operated site.

10. Study your video’s performance via metrics, funnel down to what really matters to your business, and incrementally improve.

11. Machine learning will never fully replace human ingenuity but can expedite workflows.

12. Shorter ads might lower CPMs but also grow revenue with additional views.

 

Overheard at JW Player

  • “Killer presentation by Rob Gill. The @Jwplayer 8.4 beta looks like a game changer for load times. great job. #jwinsights #contentlogistics”
  • “If you look at our platform, 65% of the deals being transacted are direct and curated.”
  • “Killer session learning about applying data signals within digital video at #jwinsights”
  • “A great day at JW Insights 2018! An excellent line-up of speakers and moderators. As the media industry continues to transcend into the world of OTT & TVE, we will all benefit from these insights. Already looking forward to next year!”
  • “80% of the internet in 2020 will be video and 10% of all online videos are through JW.”
  • “Video is the future. It was great to hear from content creators, brands, and ad tech folks alike about the importance of video intel and analytics.”

 

Read More

Check out our JW Insights 2018 blog series here, including:

JW Insights 2018 Recap

Video Intelligence: The Next Frontier

 

 

To learn more about how JW Player can support your video business, schedule time to speak with one of our video experts.

 

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Infographic: The Rise of Mobile Video

The future of digital video isn’t on a desktop; it’s on a device

In the late ’90s, my mother recorded TV shows on VHS tapes. Now 20 years later, she finds better gifs and online videos than I do and has taken it upon herself to text them to me on a regular basis. I am, against all my expectations, caught up on viral videos thanks to a woman who used to only swear by her trusty VCR.  For her—and countless viewers around the world—mobile video experiences have steadily become a fact of life. Take a look at how far we’ve come with JW Player’s latest infographic—”The Rise of Mobile Video.”

 

 

***

 

Sources:

https://video-guide.iab.com/mobile-video

Cisco: IP traffic shoots up to 3 zettabytes by 2021, video will be 80% of it

https://www.comscore.com/Insights/Blog/Smartphone-Apps-Are-Now-50-of-All-US-Digital-Media-Time-Spent

https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/data-gallery/detail/mobile-site-abandonment-three-second-load/

Google’s emphasis on mobile page speed will hit CNN, WSJ and other top sites

More Than 75% of Worldwide Video Viewing is Mobile

9 in 10 Viewers Share Mobile Video Content

 

To learn more about how JW Player can support your video strategy, schedule time to speak with a video expert.

 

 

 

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June 2018 Video Tech NYC Meetup

JW Player hosts developer discussions on blockchain, video transcoding, and peer-to-peer video delivery

On Thursday, June 14, 2018, JW Player hosted our first Video Tech NYC Meetup of the year. Over pizza, drinks, and conversations, we welcomed developers and other video industry professionals to hear from two leading experts in the tech community: Eric Tang, Founder and CTO of Livepeer, and Pierre-Louis Theron, Founder and CEO of Streamroot.

The Video Tech NYC Meetup is an open forum for anyone interested in the underlying technology behind video and online video publishing: HTML5 video, rendering, streaming, transcoding, codecs, advertising, open standards, video testing pipelines, VR/360, analytics, and more.

In Tang’s presentation, we looked at the video transcoding network in Livepeer – an open-source, decentralized video streaming network using the Ethereum blockchain. Under Livepeer, transcoders do the claim work and are incentivized to complete correct transactions, and verification is decentralized. Livepeer uses techniques similar to crypto mining to drive down price and improve the performance of video transcoding. The talk also covered vote-casting for transcoders via the token economy.

Theron gave a presentation on “WebRTC Peer-to-Peer Delivery: Scaling Up Your CDN Infrastructure for the World Cup.” His company, Streamroot, is the largest peer-to-peer delivery network for OTT broadcasters. During this talk, Theron presented the architecture of Streamroot’s peer-assisted video delivery solution leveraging webRTC. To integrate peer-to-peer libraries with JW Player and other players, publishers simply need a single line of code.

In addition, Theron’s talk covered insights on customer data and how Streamroot iterates on its algorithm to improve the QoS p2p efficiency. Distributed technologies, Theron said, cannot be tested on a test bed; tests should be done with several viewers in real-life conditions.

Stay up-to-date with Video Tech NYC Meetups here. The Meetup focuses on the engineering side and not the creative side, but creatives are welcome.

For more information about the Meetup and how JW Player can support your video business, schedule time to speak with a video expert.

 

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Video Intelligence: The Next Frontier

At JW Insights 2018, our Cofounder & Chief Innovation Officer Jeroen Wijering shared how video intelligence benefits publishers—and everyone else—in the digital video ecosystem

Though it’s the biggest force in media right now, video has traditionally been a bit of a black box. It wasn’t always easy to access data about things like the video’s content, where it plays, whom it’s reaching, and how it monetizes. All that is changing thanks to video intelligence. As our Cofounder/CIO Jeroen Wijering showed at this year’s JW Insights, data innovations play a crucial role in unraveling video mysteries, simplifying workflows, and boosting engagement—among many other benefits.

Two Aspects of Video Intelligence

According Jeroen, video intelligence serves a dual purpose by revealing information about:

  • The video itself – While many insights were previously locked behind the player, now it’s possible to extract data frame by frame. As a publisher, you could, for instance, identify parts that feature raised audio or cheering and hone in on segments that contain faces.

    By uncovering this metadata, video intelligence saves time in the editorial workflow. You can group shots together, determine where the break points are in a storyline, enrich your video summarization, classify files for your library, and much more.

  • The user – Once you understand the video’s content, take it to the next level with viewer insights. By tagging identifiers and tracking users across devices, video intelligence monitors how users interact with specific scenes. You can detect drop-offs and compare how certain scenes performed against other parts of the video. Essentially, you’re able to find out what users are interested in and develop viewer engagement best practices.

Who Benefits from Video Intelligence?

A better understanding of video content and audiences benefits everyone in the ecosystem:

  • Editors – Beyond the workflow enhancements mentioned above, video intelligence provides additional ways to improve efficiency, such as the ability to chop up long interviews and construct highlight reels based on specific segments.
  • Developers – Video intelligence is a foundation for creating a richer, adaptive, and personalized user experience. It also makes interactive video possible (see: searchable transcripts and clickable hotspots).
  • Data scientists – Video intelligence allows better access to raw data and deepens the analysis of content.
  • Advertiser – Video intelligence helps to better target audiences, predict buyer journeys and churn, and earn greater revenue.

Video Intelligence at JW Player

We’re heavily invested in video intelligence in 2018 and beyond. As Jeroen mentioned, “we have rich video timeline data combined with rich user timeline data, and we package them to make data-driven products.” Among the offerings? Our JW Recommendations engine and metadata extraction platform. Stay tuned for more to come.

 

To learn how to grow your video business with video intelligence, schedule time to talk with a video expert.

 

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Bill Day to Speak at Stifel’s 2018 Cross Sector Conference

JW Player’s COO will join a panel on artificial intelligence in the enterprise

Artificial intelligence is poised to change the digital video world. At Stifel’s first Cross Sector Insight Conference, JW Player’s COO Bill Day will explore AI’s future impact with other industry experts in a panel titled “Artificial Intelligence in the Enterprise” on Wednesday, June 13, 2018 at 8:00 a.m.

Stifel’s inaugural Cross Sector Insight Conference will be held June 11-13, 2018 at the InterContinental Hotel in Boston. The event will welcome 250 leading public and private companies across the consumer, diversified industrials & services, energy, internet, media, real estate, and technology sectors.

In addition to AI, the conference will feature collaborative panels addressing other timely issues, including the Amazon disruption, the emerging cannabis industry, and the technology behind autonomous vehicle development.

Speakers will include Dr. Janet Yellen, former Federal Reserve Chair, and Brad Garlinghouse, CEO of Ripple, a blockchain-based cryptocurrency company. Grammy award-winning singer and songwriter Darius Rucker will perform live.

Stifel Financial Corp. is a financial services holding company, headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri, that conducts its banking, securities, and financial services business through several wholly owned subsidiaries.

 

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