Playbook: Become a Video-First Publisher

Our comprehensive guide to making video your #1 source of revenue

It’s a good time to be in video. But it’s not exactly easy getting into video. Some think it’s as simple as putting content online and watching the views (and revenue) roll in. But nothing could be further from the truth.

Today’s publishers face many moving parts on the road to running a profitable video business: from building a content library to implementing a tech stack to monetizing effectively. Our playbook Become a Video-First Publisher equips you with the tips and best practices to succeed. If you want to make video your #1 source of revenue—and truly become “video-first”—this guide is your go-to resource.

 

 

 

To learn more about becoming a video-first publisher, schedule time to speak with a video expert.

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The Video Advertising Brilliance of Roaring Earth

How the nature website scaled its business with 6-second mobile preroll ads and A/B testing

Tigers attacking bears. Alligators fighting pythons. Lions tackling hyenas. Such is the addictive drama that unfolds every day on the nature video website Roaring Earth. The niche publisher has mushroomed into a profitable online destination 30 million views strong. At JW Insights 2018, CEO Jan Renner shared how a viewer-centric monetization strategy helped Roaring Earth scale its business.

 

“Every missed view is lost money.”

From the very beginning, Roaring Earth set its sights on achieving at least two views per session.

“We knew if we could get at least two views per session, we could make this business work,” said Renner. This benchmark would not only allow Roaring Earth to sustain viewer engagement but monetize successfully. “Every missed view is lost money,” said Renner.

 

The website was bullish about the 6-second preroll mobile ad. As a niche publisher, Roaring Earth felt this type of preroll was especially suitable for expanding viewership and revenue.

 

A/B Testing for success

To support viewer engagement, Roaring Earth invested heavily in an advertising approach that prioritized user experience.

 

Roaring Earth A/B tested more than 1,000 videos, comparing factors like ad length, user reactions, and rate of viewer return.  It looked at, for example, the efficacy of running two 6-second ads vs. one 15-second ad. Over the course of a few weeks, it amassed a data set that revealed some consistent results.

 

 

Less is more

Roaring Earth observed that shorter ads, fewer ads, or the absence of ads didn’t necessarily mean less revenue because they helped users stay longer on the site.  “We’ve found that with shorter ads, you often get lower CPMs. But you also get an extended user experience. For us, we’re almost making the revenue back in additional views,” said Renner.

 

And in many cases, CPMs actually increased with shorter ads. By keeping ad loads “light and clean,” Roaring Earth has found that, in fact, “advertisers are rewarding us. They recognize higher viewership with higher CPMs.”

 

While it may seem counterintuitive, this “cleansing” of the ad load can strengthen relationships with marketers. “Now, there’s a spirit of partnership rather than advertisers asking, ‘Where is my ad running?’” said Renner. For Roaring Earth, a viewer-centric monetization strategy was a solution for better viewer engagement, ad revenue, and advertiser relations.

 

Want to improve your video monetization strategy? Schedule time to speak with a video expert.

 

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Building Loyal Audiences in the Attention Economy

JW Insights experts share tips about sustaining engagement when attention spans are shorter than this sent…

Remember that study about humans having a shorter attention span than a goldfish? It’s now more urban legend than science, but for publishers looking to build loyal audiences in the attention economy, it isn’t entirely a myth. Keeping eyeballs on videos and ensuring return visits are no easy tasks under the deluge of digital distractions that compete for viewer attention every day. If you’re looking to combat “Goldfish Syndrome,” take a look at these tips from JW Insights experts.

 

1) Define what loyalty means to you – it’s different for every publisher.

Understand what’s important to your company before you attach your company to particular metrics. Is loyalty measured by the conversion rate from short-form to long-form? Is it the percentage of time viewers watch another video? Or how often they return to your video site each month?

 

Bottom line: Everyone’s got a different metric, and you have to decide what’s right for you.

 

According to Jake McGraw, EVP of Strategy and CTO of attn:, it’s okay to step away from massive numbers and tracking viewership alone. His company, for example, also looks at how much people tell their friends about videos, share videos on social media, or wait for the next episode.

 

2) Support intent to watch.

Viewers are much more likely to complete and engage with a video if they expect to watch it. As Paul Bannister, EVP of CaféMedia, says, “It matters how the user gets to the video.” Consider a viewer’s state of mind: Am I looking to watch this video right now? Am I clicking to play? Or is this video autoplaying in my news feed?

 

3) Appeal to viewers where they are.

For many publishers, this means balancing social media with owned and operated (O&O) sites. According to Paul, “You have to appeal to them where they are.” If the content is good, “that person likes the content wherever it is.” The ultimate goal, over time, is to bring all viewers back to your O&O.

 

4) Produce good content and understand the value of each piece.

It may go without saying that good content is key to attracting a loyal audience, but make sure to keep that process iterative and laser-focused. Said Jared Lansky, CCO of Keywee: “Look at each piece of content as an individual item and look at the return of that item to assess whether you should keep investing. Know that on a story by story level.”

 

5) What works for one platform may not work for another.

“Every platform is different,” said Jake. “What works on Facebook, you can’t just ship to YouTube,” which is a more intent-based platform with people searching for answers. In addition, the YouTube player is often embedded on other sites, a factor that publishers should keep in mind when measuring loyalty.

 

6) Drive traffic to your O&O video site—don’t put your business in somebody else’s hands.

If you’re using social media platforms, don’t rely on them exclusively. Revenue share on Facebook and Google cuts significantly into publisher ad yield. “You’ve got this absurdity of billions of views generating thousands of dollars in revenue,” said moderator Andrew Wallenstein of Variety.

 

To build loyal audiences, drive viewership back to your O&O and diversify your business. In this way, attn: finds that “whatever happens to CPMs on videos published natively on Facebook doesn’t impact us,” said Jake.

 

7) Create a video-centric experience on your O&O site.

Once you’ve driven people to your O&O, make sure their experience is user-friendly. “People can be willing and eager to leave the social platforms,” said Jared, but the video should be the focal point of your site once they arrive. Paul believes emerging tools will help build video-centric user experiences. “You can carve out your loyal audience if you build a video-focused experience on the site.”

 

8) Invest in your long tail audience.

Retention hinges on identifying your most engaged audience. Jake advises that, when plotting viewer retention against video duration, “Cut the first 10 seconds off. Then that’s your audience. Your loyal audience should be based on the long tail – the folks who actually stayed long enough to watch your great content.”

 

To watch the full session:

 

 

Learn more about how JW Player can help you sustain viewer attention. Schedule time to speak with a video expert.

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Case Study: Streaming the 2018 Winter Olympics

JW Player delivered a flawless video experience of the Games for millions across Europe

“Rode” the halfpipe with the world’s best snowboarders this past winter? Watched those crisp replays of the triple axel? The 2018 Winter Olympics were nothing short of spectacular, and for those of you in Europe, these striking visual experiences were brought to you online by JW Player. We streamed the Games live in PyeongChang as the official video tech partner of Eurosport, the home of European coverage of the Winter Olympics. Check out our case study below.

 

Click for full PDF

 

Reach for the gold with your video program. Schedule time to talk with a video expert.

 

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Playbook: The Modern Publisher’s Guide to Video Advertising

Tips, insights, and best practices for better digital video monetization

Whether you’re a novice or a veteran of video advertising, the fact is: It’s complicated out there. The ad ecosystem is a complex jungle, and video is an entirely different beast than the typical digital display ad. That’s why we created The Modern Publisher’s Guide to Video Advertising—your essential resource for navigating the landscape, maximizing ad revenue, and scaling your video business.

 

In plain English, this playbook breaks down:

  • Key players and processes in the ad ecosystem
  • The fundamentals of programmatic advertising
  • How to measure and optimize video ad performance & CPMs
  • Building out your ad stack
  • Innovations in Video Player Bidding
  • Plus: Access exclusive tips from our experienced video experts and our “Getting Started” checklist

 

Video will take up more than 80% of all internet traffic by 2021 — Don’t let video advertising opportunities go untapped. Get in the game today with The Modern Publisher’s Guide to Video Advertising.

 

To learn more about how JW Player can boost your ad revenue, schedule time to speak with a video expert.

 

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p.s. Read the book? Test your knowledge with our Video Advertising Quiz.

 

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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:

 

 

Read more from our JW Insights blog series.

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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.

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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.

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