JW Player April 2018 Product Release

Monthly update on the latest product improvements and offerings

We are excited to announce that JW Player’s April 2018 product release is now generally available.

Our April release includes a number of new features, as well as beta programs, that enable publishers to:


Power growth through video intelligence: Harness data and machine learning to drive improvements in monetization, identify the audiences that are most valuable to your business, and easily configure reporting on your videos and audiences




Deepen audience engagement with your content: With our beta Facebook Publish offering, seamlessly publish videos to Facebook, directly within the JW Platform. Let us know if you want to get early access to our Facebook Publish beta program.



Enhanced workflows that save you time: Work smarter in the JW Platform, with one-stop access to video content management and analytics.



To dive deeper into our April 2018 product release, please watch our client webinar, which takes a deeper dive into our enhancements. Additionally, you can read our release notes to get more detailed information on any of the enhancements.

Finally, registration is now open for our May 15 product highlights webinar — please sign up today! 


Thanks for your continued support of JW Player.


Allyn Horne is the VP of Product Marketing at JW Player.


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The Playback

Top headlines and news across the digital video industry, curated each week by JW Player



  • YouTube To Suspend Third-Party Ad Serving In The EU (AdExchanger) YouTube will no longer support third-party ad serving on reserved buys in Europe beginning May 21, and it will assess whether to extend that policy globally, according to a memo obtained by AdExchanger.


  • Publishers are treating Instagram Stories like episodic TV (DigiDay) If Instagram ever adds its version of Facebook Watch, Bustle will be prepared. The publisher is among the media companies independently producing episodic series for their own Instagram Stories and selling brands on sponsoring these shows in the same way TV networks pitch their programs.


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It’s All in the Execution: 5 Tips For Building a Sustainable Video Strategy

JW Player cofounder Brian Rifkin shares advice for becoming a video-first publisher

Digital video was a $13 billion business in 2017 and is forecasted to grow at a double-digit growth rate for the foreseeable future. And given the rise of next generation digital video platforms like mobile, OTT, and even connected home devices, the growth has no end in sight over the long term.

Video simply can’t be ignored by any publisher. However, success in video is not easy. Most websites/publishers built their original business without video, relying on text and images. These publishers are facing the challenges of integrating video into their strategy. Some of the newer breed of publishers launched as video-first and optimized for social platform distribution. With the fallout of Facebook’s recent algorithm change, they are also facing challenges.

The good news is that both of these challenges are surmountable and when implemented correctly, will create a video website experience that is engaging for consumers and lays the foundation of a sustainable advertising business.

Here are  five key recommendations that websites/publishers should focus on for a successful video strategy.

Match your site experience to the user’s expectations.

Experienced and new publishers alike frequently forget that not everyone who arrives on their page will be expecting video content. If you’ve ever x’ed out of a window to avoid an unexpected autoplay video, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

This is why it is crucial to tee up your content in a way that prepares people for video, creating an “intent to watch” experience. Whether the user is arriving from a newsletter, social media, search, or your homepage, you can set this expectation by including a thumbnail image of your video alongside copy with phrases like “watch what happens” or “click here to watch our video review.”


Put money into an effective user acquisition strategy.

When it comes to user acquisition, there’s no such thing as a free lunch anymore. Whether you’re using SEO or social media sites like Facebook, generating organic visits has become an intense competition over a shrinking pool of traffic. If you want to bring high-value video viewers to your site, you’ll need to invest in a paid media budget.  Be sure to promote video in these campaigns to ensure you’re driving users to your site with intent to watch.

Regardless of where you spend your money, it’s important to optimize every post for the highest possible ROI. With the right technology, you’ll be able to run multivariate testing on every piece of video content, as well as the copy and thumbnail image you use to promote it.


Master the science of online video.

Video can be a major source of digital ad revenues, but it only works when media brands take the time to master the unique challenges of the format.

Unlike display, it’s unwise to simply load up on as many demand partners as you can find, as doing so will lead to VAST errors that poison the user experience and decrease your overall yields. Instead, it’s best to be disciplined about who you bring in, whittling down your prospective buyers to the ones who deliver the highest CPMs and fill rates.

And while publishers make most of their automated display revenues from the open auction, the programmatic video money is in guaranteed deals and private marketplaces. Since both of these arrangements require publishers to connect with individual demand partners, you’ll need your in-house sales team to build relationships with buyers. If you don’t have an in-house sales team, ask your exchange partners to help you connect.

Last, but not least, it’s crucial to hire skilled ad-tech professionals who can recognize and troubleshoot any technical problems that arise.


Make it fast, really fast.

In video, the easiest way to uncover hidden revenues is to speed up your website. After all, 53% of mobile users will abandon a site if it takes three seconds or more to load.

Whereas display advertising rewards publishers for loading their page with additional banner ads and content recommendations, video publishers must be careful not to distract the user — in essence, less is more. Since video advertising delivers such high yields, the right page configuration will be one that encourages people to go into the video player and watch multiple pieces of content.


Take things one video at a time.

While all of this may sound daunting, it’s important to remember two things: a) there are already publishers who have followed this roadmap to success and b) there’s no reason you can’t take your time finding what works for you and build another page if you need to.

Instead of trying to execute a total pivot to video overnight, it’s best to take things one video at a time, testing and learning as you go. The key is to remain focused on building a video-first content strategy, a speedy, intuitive user experience and an intelligent programmatic stack. If you can do these things, you’ll be well on your way to finding a path that works for you.


Ready to become a video-first publisher? Schedule time to talk with a video expert.


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Market Smarter with Video Intelligence

In a B2B Growth podcast, JW Player CEO Dave Otten shares how marketers can tap into viewer insights that drive the bottom line

What lies at the heart of a good marketing plan? It boils down to one thing: understanding what makes your audience tick. But truly getting to this point can be a royal pain. Sometimes there’s limited data. Sometimes there’s only a partial story of who the target audience really is.

The good news is that market research is growing more sophisticated every day thanks to video intelligence. Using data and insights gleaned from viewer behavior and consumption, marketers can connect the dots on how audiences engage with media online and reach the right people at the right time. Our CEO Dave Otten explains how on B2B Growth, a daily podcast for B2B marketers.

The video industry’s “dirty secrets”

According to Dave, there are two main problems or “dirty secrets” facing marketers and publishers in the video industry:


  • A shortfall of quality video content: There’s an imbalance between the demand from advertisers and the supply of quality inventory from publishers. Creating engaging, compelling videos remains a key challenge for a lot of publishers trying to monetize successfully.


  • Limited data that informs monetization: Many video advertising strategies could be improved with better insights into video content, how it’s consumed, who it’s reaching, etc.


Video intelligence as a marketing tool

“For marketers looking to reach audiences, JW Player helps those folks get access to data sets that they can then use to enrich their existing data around who their customers are today,” says Dave.

(These “data sets” are among the video world’s largest—each month 1 billion people, or one seventh of the global population, will watch at least one JW Player video.)

Dave gives the example of a person who buys Tide detergent and regularly visits a handful of sites and watches specific videos. Video intelligence would help a Tide marketer see how these viewing patterns are interconnected, understand better who this person is, and what s/he might do next to inform a next purchase of Tide.

Another example is the consumer who watches a video on VICE.com and then visits Cosmopolitan.com to watch a fashion video. Pre-video intelligence, a marketer might primarily define the audience in terms of VICE’s demographics, but now there’s an added layer of nuance—an interest in fashion—that could impact the marketing message.

“We provide granular insights” that allow marketers to “make connections at an individual and content level of how people engage and where their interests might lie,” says Dave. Marketers might discover, for instance, that seemingly unrelated sites actually share the same users.

“If you can make those connections and make it more efficient for marketers to be successful in reaching their audiences,” he continues, “then that’s a big win for everyone in the ecosystem.”


Improving user experience with video intelligence

A quality video advertising experience would not be possible without excellent playback, and video intelligence enhances the speed and performance of video plays.

Dave explains that time to first frame is lightning-fast because “we use video intelligence to make sure we load the proper components of a video player given your bandwidth connection.”

If players are set to autoplay, video intelligence helps determine that the video only runs if the player is visible on the screen—for advertisers, a guarantee that their ads are being seen.


As we’ve shown in our JW Recommendations blog series, publishers have much to gain by capitalizing on video intelligence to engage audiences. But for advertisers, the possibilities are only just beginning—and could be quite endless. Video intelligence is increasingly essential to understanding audiences, delivering riveting messages, and growing profitable businesses.


To all the advertisers out there, welcome to the new world of marketing.


Click here to listen to the full podcast (episode #664).


Learn more about strengthening your marketing strategy with video intelligence. Schedule time to speak with a video expert.


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The Playback

Top headlines and news across the digital video industry, curated each week by JW Player



  • AV1 Is Finally Here, but Intellectual Property Questions Remain (StreamingMedia) Today the Alliance for Open Media froze the AV1 bitstream and released an unoptimized software encoder and decoder; AV1 decode should arrive in several browsers and some content from member companies over the next few months, with hardware implementations in about a year.



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JW Recommendations: Captivate Your Audience with Video

Updates that empower publishers to directly enhance engagement with the video experiences viewers want, curated at scale

In light of increased fragmentation and competition, it is no longer enough to simply present content to audiences and expect increased engagement. Viewers today expect to engage with appealing and slick content presentations that work well across all devices. Publishers that fail in this execution suffer from low view counts, high abandonment rates, and fewer return visits. In the second part of our Recommendations blog post series, we will discuss the visual improvements to Recommendations that enhance user interaction with content.


An interface that anticipates your user’s needs


New Recommendations Shelf Overlay that maximizes content awareness and encourages click throughs.


The Discovery Overlay has been updated to help publishers reduce audience abandonment mid-play. A new shelf of recommended content from the publisher’s library will now appear mid-screen when viewers pause, press the ‘More Videos’ button, or scroll to the bottom half of the video. The new shelf feature ensures viewers are always made aware of additional compelling content they could watch without interrupting the playback of the current video. Preliminary tests show that publishers have seen a 22% improvement in click throughs since implementing the new Recommendations Shelf.


Intuitive interactions with recommendations on any device

Our Recommendations is fully mobile optimized for engaging viewers on the go!


Welcome to the future with JW Recommendations on mobile! The Discovery Overlay is now optimized for all devices by supporting swipe gestures on mobile and keyboard shortcuts on desktop. Interacting with recommended content has never been more seamless—the kind of experience that will keep your viewers coming back for more.


Playlist widgets that optimize all pages and content types for video views


Get visitors more invested in your written editorial content by matching it with video.


Have you ever wondered how you can increase the ROI of your written editorial content with video but don’t have the technical means? JW Recommendations has the solution that many publishers are seeking. Our new developer code examples for Javascript playlist widgets makes displaying and aligning video with written content easy and fast. In doing so, you can capture increased viewer attention by presenting more related content.


To learn about how implementing these new visual features can deepen audience engagement and loyalty, please schedule time to talk with a video expert.


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JW Player Joins Forces with Float Left to Simplify OTT for Publishers

Our partnership provides a complete “over-the-top” solution that reaches viewers seeking premium viewing experiences while ma­intaining choice

We’re proud to partner with Float Left to create an end-to-end OTT solution for content publishers and broadcasters around the world. Float Left is a front-end application developer whose apps have helped publishers like Crackle, NBC Sports, and Viacom delive­­r content on OTT (“over-the-top”) devices. This partnership bridges JW Player’s high-quality online video delivery with Float Left’s templated apps and custom development. Publishers will be able to expand their content distribution, create premium viewing experiences, and focus on their core business.


For many publishers, OTT is the next frontier. Viewers want to “lean back” with the quality of cable TV while maintaining the convenience and choice of watching video on-demand. OTT content, streaming over broadband or cellular, offers the best of both worlds.


And the market has noticed. OTT’s share in ad spend jumped to 26% in October 2017. The previous year, that number had been at just 8%. It’s the kind of momentum that has led to very tiny, minor predictions like OTT revenues reaching $120 billion by 2022.

Viewers can stream full-length online movies and TV shows via their OTT device.


But setting up OTT is far from straightforward for most in-house teams. Not only do they need to stream videos flawlessly, but they must deliver them via OTT apps individually customized for Roku, Apple TV, Smart TV, Amazon Fire TV, and any number of other OTT devices. Limited time and staff resources, difficult implementation, a cumbersome app submission process, and complex monetization are just a few of the hurdles standing in the way of becoming a true OTT publisher.


At JW Player, we have many customers who want to overcome these challenges and take their online videos “over-the-top.” Float Left develops video-centric apps that can stream their content from JW Platform so that viewers can quickly access publisher videos through OTT devices. With analytics tracking, publishers can make informed programming decisions and eventually compare how their videos are performing across OTT, web, SDKs, and more. From launch to code maintenance, publishers receive full life cycle support.


The end result is a much more simplified, turnkey process for delivering visually stunning experiences in digital video. Publishers can bring their content to more screens and, most importantly, put technology in the hands of video tech experts while they get back to running their business.


Having collaborated with Float Left previously, we’re excited to continue our work together with a partnership that gives more publishers OTT options to engage their audiences. If your viewers want to stream premium video on their TV without cable, the time has never been better to extend your business into OTT.


Having problems with your “over-the-top” video strategy? Get to the bottom of it by scheduling time to speak with a video expert.


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The Playback

Top headlines and news across the digital video industry, curated each week by JW Player


  • Newsonomics: Will Facebook’s troubles finally cure publishers of platformitis? (NiemanLab) As a platform that wanted to globally mass, Facebook had to be free. The price of that strategy may, inevitably, be data manipulation, beyond even the best intentions or efforts at control. It’s integral to the business model. If that’s the case, are we running headfirst into a collision with basic American democratic values — all because the most easily lucrative business model has led us there?


  • The State of Video and AI 2018 (StreamingMedia) Video AI (artificial intelligence) has the capacity to solve a number of time-consuming, video-related problems with automation. But that doesn’t mean it has magical powers that will exclude human control.


  • Doubling efforts to unlock potential of video ads: YouTube (Brand Equity) Video streaming platform YouTube, that counts India as one of the most important markets, today said it is doubling its efforts on product and advertising to unlock the potential of video advertising. YouTube, which was launched in 2008 in India, today has over 225 million monthly active users on mobile.



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JW Player’s Empowering Evening with Women in Technology

Teaming up with Brown University’s EMSTL to host our first-ever panel with female leaders in the tech industry

On Wednesday, March 28, 2018, JW Player welcomed an inspiring panel of women who are all making waves in the technology world. Cohosted by Brown University’s EMSTL, this first-ever JW Inspire WIT event, “Shaking Up Leadership: Women in Tech,” featured thought-provoking conversations about career journeys, overcoming professional challenges, best practices in negotiation, and the future of diversity and inclusion.

We’re ecstatic that about 100 attendees, men and women alike, made this special evening—in our newly redesigned office—one of our most successful events to date.


Under the leadership of our Director of Technical Program Management Kathy Carter, the JW Inspire WIT initiative invited 6 women to speak on a panel moderated by Sandra Smith, Director of Brown’s EMSTL:

  • Lauren Wiener – CEO, Tremor Video DSP
  • Jennifer Scandariato – Sr. Director, Cloud Services, iCIMS
  • Sarah Adler – CTO, Spoon University
  • Rahel Jhirad – VP Machine Learning, Hearst
  • Jaclyn Jimenez – Full Stack Engineer, Meetup
  • And JW’s own Alicia Hurst – Product Manager, JW Player

Among the takeaways from the evening:


  • Be open to nontraditional paths toward a technical career. Some panelists were self-taught and/or graduates of developer boot camps. While credentials can be important, an even greater predictor of success is the willingness to take risks.


  • It’s important that women look out for each other in the workplace. Ladies, you know what I’m talking about. Divisiveness can be worse within our own gender, but we collectively get farther when we support each other.


  • Confidence is the foundation of effective negotiation. It’s also closely tied to another key ingredient—preparation.


After the panel, attendees networked and traded insights over a wine and cheese reception.


…And we’re just getting started! Next up for JW Inspire WIT will be our company’s mentorship program, pairing female employees with male and female mentors throughout JW Player. We’ll also hold more workshops and panels in the future. Stay tuned!


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An Encouraging Development in the HEVC Patent Mess

Perspectives on the digital video world from JW Player’s SVP of Technology

Earlier this month, HEVC Advance announced changes to their royalty fees for commercial use of the HEVC video compression standard. In short, these changes will make it essentially free to distribute video content on the Internet using the HEVC codec. Previously the content royalty rate was a complex matrix of rates by content type (subscription, title-by-title, etc), but it boiled down to potentially millions of dollars per year.

The HEVC Advance device royalties remain, but they have been discounted. As always, Jan Ozer provides an excellent summary.


These changes are great news, and most likely a result of growing industry backing for AV1, a royalty-free codec being developed by Google, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, and others. Indeed, even if AV1 as a technology flops, it will have won a significant victory for the industry by pressuring HEVC Advance to cut fees.


What is HEVC Advance, you ask? To use HEVC commercially, you must pay royalties to companies (or universities) whose patented techniques are used in the standard. These payments are required even if you are using open-source implementations of HEVC. For AVC (HEVC’s predecessor), a single company called MPEG LA collected these royalties and distributed them to the patent owners.


In the case of HEVC, however, three such “pools” have sprouted up–MPEG LA, Velos Media, and HEVC Advance. Of the three pools, HEVC Advance’s fees were the highest. (Well, as far we know, because Velos has never published their rates.) To make things even less clear, companies such as Technicolor have foregone membership in all the pools to collect their own royalties independently (also unpublished).


The result has been uncertainty and confusion among companies who are considering using HEVC, not only around how much money must be paid now, but around the risks of future royalties if a new pool or patent holder emerges demanding yet more royalties. The situation is so bad that the long-time chairman of MPEG (the group that standardized HEVC) called it “tragic” and “a crisis.


So while the HEVC Advance changes are welcome, they might have arrived too late to gain the confidence of browser makers, device manufacturers, and other implementers to adopt HEVC.


As as result, we still find ourselves waiting for AV1 to save the day (it was officially released yesterday, in fact), but I fear that is going to take much longer than people hope. For more on that subject, see my previous post.


John Luther is JW Player’s SVP of Technology.

JW Player supports your video-first business. To learn more, schedule time to speak with a video expert.


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