Video Ad Technology: What You Need to Know

Takeaways from IAB’s “Guide to Digital Video Advertising”

For many publishers, the world of video advertising can sometimes be an intimidating place. Before content producers can even think of monetizing, they must first understand the many moving parts involved in serving a digital video ad.

In order to help publishers get their bearings, we frequently recommend the bible of video advertising, IAB’s  “Guide to Digital Video Advertising.” Here are a few of the most pertinent insights for those of you who are finding your footing in digital video.


The ad server is responsible for communicating with the user’s browser to deliver and record the results of digital ads.

Every single online ad you see is the result of a lightning-fast, multi-step process. It involves three kinds of servers: The publisher web server delivers the editorial content to the page. The publisher ad server chooses which ad to show the user, and the marketer ad server delivers that ad unit to the page. Here’s what happens:

  1. The process begins when the user directs the web browser to navigate to a given web page. 
  2. After receiving a signal from the browser, the publisher’s web server tells the browser where its content is located and how that content ought to be formatted for the user.
  3. The code that the publisher web server sends to the browser contains the “ad tag,” a snippet of code that helps the publisher’s web server communicate with its ad server.
  4. After receiving the ad tag, the publisher ad server uses its internal decisioning logic to select one of thousands of pieces of potential creative.
  5. Next, the publisher ad server puts out a call telling the marketer ad server which ad unit it wants to show the user.
  6. The marketer ad server then calls for the creative unit from a group of servers called the content delivery network, and voila, the ad is served. 
  7. Along the way, the impression is reported as served by both the publisher and marketer ad servers.


The video player delivers the user’s video content, inserts the video ad unit, and records data on how the user experiences the ad.

In addition to playing the video content the user came to see, the video player receives a message from the video ad server containing the ad creative in multiple formats. It’s then up to the player to determine the best size and format for rendering the ad. After the video player delivers the ad, it passes user data to publishers and marketers, allowing them to understand how people experienced and engaged with their content.


VAST is a standard template that allows video players to communicate with ad servers across the industry.

In the early days of video advertising, each publisher would create their own custom solutions for video playing and ad serving, forcing advertisers to make their technology compatible with scores of publisher-side tools. As a result, IAB developed standard video player templates that worked with marketers around the world.

Today, the most popular standard is the Video Ad Serving Template (VAST). When publishers use VAST, advertisers have a common language for instructing the video player as to how the ad should be rendered. In addition, VAST allows advertisers and publishers to measure impressions, clicks, and completed views.


Want to learn more about the nitty gritty of video advertising? Schedule a call with one of our video experts.

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The Playback

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



  • Advertisers see merits of the Facebook algorithm change (Digiday) “The new Facebook algorithm will filter out clickbait-style promotions (‘Like our product if you think this dog is cute’), which will pressure brands to create more meaningful content over the long term.”




  • French say non to Netflix (Rapid TV News)France is bucking the European subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) upsurge trend with the lowest uptake among the countries surveyed by Ampere Analysis.”


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How Facebook’s Changes Could Impact Your Video Strategy

Take control of your video business by engaging viewers on your owned and operated site

Ever since Facebook announced that it would feature more content from users than from brands on the News Feed, the web has been buzzing with commentary and reactions, spanning a gamut from alarm to approval.

At JW Player, our viewpoint is that this is an ongoing trend. Facebook changing algorithms isn’t anything new, and this latest change underscores the need for publishers to prioritize their investment in their owned and operated (O&O) video sites more than ever before.


Paid traffic isn’t affected

Facebook is certainly driven by improving user engagement, but as a business it’s also focused on increasing paid referrals and profits ($4.7 billion in Q3, a 46% profit margin). One of the first things to remember here is that this change does not affect paid traffic, which has been steadily climbing as a percentage of referrals in the last few years. This trend means that publishers who build on the Facebook platform assuming a free ride via organic traffic or even at predictable marketing costs will continue to be at risk. Think about how the Google Adwords CPC increased over time. Facebook will be no different.


Organic traffic is affected

The Facebook algorithm change will impact organic traffic—the volume of visitors coming to a brand through search. Even in this area, the impact hinges on an important factor: the level of audience engagement. Publishers with low user engagement should see a decrease in organic traffic, while those with high user engagement could stand to gain more organic traffic. The question is How good is good enough? The bar may be raised again in the future.

A brand with high user engagement generates more comments, discussions, and likes—all part of what Mark Zuckerberg calls “meaningful social interactions.”

We aren’t critical of this move by Facebook; they are working to create a better Internet. The impact on publishers who rely on organic traffic is clear though, and it’s something that will only continue as time goes on.


Creating engaging content on your O&O is key

This trend begs the question: IF you are going to invest in creating engaging content, why wouldn’t you do that on YOUR site?  When Facebook traffic was largely organic, a publisher could debate the value of building on the Facebook platform versus their O&O. But the latest change continues to make that debate less worthwhile.  

By bringing your audiences back to your O&O, you can build a quality experience that exists outside of social media. This move not only fosters more brand loyalty and fills the gaps that Facebook leaves, but it increasingly leads to better monetization due to avoiding Facebook’s revenue share and improving programmatic video options in the market.

So to sum up: Creating engaging content is crucial. Adapting to Facebook’s changes is crucial. But most of all, bringing engagement back to your O&O site is crucial. A video strategy succeeds best when it’s supported by a strong and independent web presence.


Bill Day is the COO of JW Player.


Take control of your video business today by scheduling time to talk with one of our video experts.

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The State of JW Player

Highlights, data, and fun facts from 2017

As the New Year begins, we’ve put together a snapshot of what JW Player has been up to in the last 12 months. 2017 was a huge year for our company as we sped up our growth, doubled the size of our staff, developed 36+ new features, and brought video to more screens than ever.

The industry’s moving rapidly—and we’re in the fast lane. Here are highlights from our year in video.


Based on all-network data, January-December 2017


168 Billion

Total number of plays



Total number of plays per second on average


32 Billion

Total number of ad impressions


489 Million

Total hours of time watched



Number of hours a commercial plane takes to fly around the world.

The plane would make 9.6 million trips in the total time that viewers watched JW Player videos.




Our lightweight player and customizable platform worked harder, better, faster, and stronger in 2017.


5.5 Billion

Number of seconds of video transcoded


2.2 Million

Number of dashboard sessions


4.8 Million

Number of videos uploaded to JW Platform


5 minutes, 54 seconds

Average length of a video uploaded to JW Platform




In 2017, we debuted the world’s fastest HTML5 player, JW8.



Percentage of customers who adopted JW8 within the first 3 months




JW Player is much more than a player. Our video intelligence produced a huge number of incremental plays and monetization opportunities in 2017.


2.1 Billion

Number of plays from Recommendations


532 Million

Number of ads delivered via Recommendations




With 53% of mobile users abandoning sites that don’t load within three seconds, we’re invested in supporting a strong mobile experience.



Percentage of plays on mobile devices across all networks in December 2017




2017 saw a continued decline in Flash, and our data is in line with what’s happening throughout the industry.



Percentage of plays in Flash by end of Q1, JW Platform



Percentage of plays in Flash by end of Q4, JW Platform




In 2017, we served publishers in every country in the world. They come from all industries and push the boundaries of success. Our publishers have:


Been honored by the United Nations


Produced a live event every 18 minutes on average somewhere in the world


Used video to promote conservations of Unesco World Heritage Sites


Created the first, live surfcam


Worked with Derek Jeter to tell first-person athlete stories


Promoted healthier eating by bringing calorie counts to restaurant menus


Hit 1 billion plays


And much more . . .


Ready to join this thriving global JW community? 2018 promises to be our biggest year yet, and we invite you to be a part of it.

Schedule time to talk with one of our video experts about making the most of an evolving industry as a video-first publisher:


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The Playback

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


  • Publishers are treating Facebook Watch like YouTube (Digiday) “It’s good for publishers to test new products, but publishers will generate the most revenue on their owned-and-operated properties, said Brian Rifkin, co-founder of digital video player company JW Player. He urged publishers to make sure they’re not cannibalizing their own sites by running their video on another distributed platform where the monetization is still unproven.”


  • How Many People Did That Story Reach? It Depends Who’s Counting (The Wall Street Journal) “Publishers have long used ‘unique visitors’ as a benchmark to compare the size of their website audiences and lure advertisers. But some media companies say the metric has become somewhat outmoded in an era when content is being disseminated widely on social media and other platforms.”





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Video Will Make Up More than 80% of Online Traffic

Are videos on 80% of your webpages?

According to Cisco, by the year 2021, 82% of all internet traffic will come from video. Yes, 82%. If 2021 seems far off, consider that video already accounted for 73% of all consumer internet traffic in 2016.


At JW Player, we don’t take these trends lightly—we see them as game changers. Video isn’t just a nice-to-have anymore; it’s become essential to any publisher’s success. If video consumes about 80% of all internet traffic, then it’s a good idea to put it on 80% of your webpages too. As your video partner, we draw on our industry expertise and data to show you how.


What can you do to step up your video game? It starts with understanding the architecture of your site. Just as not all plays are created equal, not all pages are created equal either. Look at your sitemap and review the different pages you have—the sections, the subsections, the various ways you are categorizing content.


Then, decide which type of video experience would be best for each page. The most effective videos are tailored to the specific page they’re serving. Rather than using a one-size-fits-all approach, think about all the different ways you can integrate video across distinct parts of your site, from desktop to mobile.


Let’s look at three common examples:


  • The dedicated video page – When it comes to attracting viewers, this is your site’s main draw. You’ll want to select a large player (at least 600×400 pixels), make it the main focus of the page, and support intent to watch.


  • The article page with recommended video content – These articles are complemented by videos or video thumbnails. You can use video to support the text or, conversely, use text to set up and comment on video. Recommended videos are related to content and support intent to watch.


  • The text-heavy page – This page might feature a much longer article, a dense how-to explanation, or any other piece with significant copy. Unrelated to content, an outstream video ad unit breaks up text-heavy pages and could have the greatest impact here.  


The speed of the digital world waits for no one. Don’t get left behind—or rather, stay one step ahead—by incorporating video throughout your website today.

To learn more about how to become a video-first publisher, schedule time to talk with one of our video experts.


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A Guide to VAST Errors

Refer to our comprehensive list of VAST error codes if ads don’t run as they should

VAST video error codes enable the JW Player to report more specific details back to the ad servers when ads don’t serve properly.

The player uses the <Error> element to provide this feedback. This element is typically nested within the <InLine> or <Wrapper> element of the VAST response. In turn, an <Error> element includes a URI that provides a tracking resource for the error. This error-tracking resource is called when the video player is unable to display the Ad.

The following example is a sample VAST response that includes the <Error> element for an Inline Ad.






An error for an Inline Ad that is part of a chain of wrapper ads will produce an error for each of the wrappers used to serve the Inline Ad. An <Error> element is also provided at the root VAST level and is primarily used to report a “No Ad” response, also known as empty VAST response.

To pull a VAST error report using Google DFP, navigate to the Reports tab and select All Queries. When creating a New Query, click to toggle all Video errors.

Using Google DFP, a video player can trigger some errors but still play the ad (for example, 200-203, 600, 601, 603, 604). It’s important to recognize that not all error codes break the video creative from serving.


For a comprehensive list of all VAST error codes please refer to the list below:

Errors with XML document

100 = XML parsing error.

101 = VAST schema validation error.

102 = VAST version of response not supported.


Errors with Creative

200 = The video player received an ad type that it was not expecting and/or cannot display.

201 = Video player expecting different linearity.

202 = Video player expecting different duration.

203 = Video player expecting different size.


Errors with Wrapper

300 = General Wrapper error.

301 = Timeout of VAST URI provided in Wrapper element, or of VAST URI provided in a subsequent Wrapper element. (URI was either unavailable or reached a timeout as defined by the video player.) This can be caused by HTTP serving to HTTPS.

302 = Wrapper limit reached, as defined by the video player. Too many Wrapper responses have been received with no InLine response. This can be caused by a circular loop of daisy chaining (one network bouncing to another and another).

303 = No Ads VAST response after one or more Wrappers. When working with third-party networks, the fill-rate can be less than 100%. If so, this is an expected error.


Errors with linear VAST tag

400 = General Linear error. Video player is unable to display the Linear Ad.

401 = File not found. Unable to find Linear/MediaFile from URI.

402 = Timeout of MediaFile URI. Potential cause could be showing video ads in an autoplay environment, while the window is not in focus or due to low bandwidth, or poor website implementation with competing requests that delay loading of the media file.

403 = Couldn’t find MediaFile that is supported by this video player, based on the attributes of the MediaFile element.

405 = Problem displaying MediaFile. Video player found a MediaFile with supported type but couldn’t display it. MediaFile may include: unsupported codecs, different MIME type than MediaFile@type, unsupported delivery method, etc.

406 = A mezzanine file was required but not provided.

407 = The mezzanine file was downloaded for the first time, so the ad did not serve.

408 = The ad returned in the VAST response was rejected.

409 = The interactive creative defined in the InteractiveCreativeFile node was not executed.

410 = The code referenced in the Verification node was not executed.


Errors with nonlinear VAST tag

500 = General NonLinearAds error.

501 = Unable to display NonLinear Ad because creative dimensions do not align with creative display area (i.e. creative dimension is too large).

502 = Unable to fetch NonLinearAds/NonLinear resource.

503 = Couldn’t find NonLinear resource with supported type. This can occur when a creative size is larger than the player size.


Errors with Companion banner

600 = General CompanionAds error.

601 = Unable to display Companion because creative dimensions do not fit within Companion display area (i.e. no available space).

602 = Unable to display Required Companion.

603 = Unable to fetch CompanionAds/Companion resource.

604 = Couldn’t find Companion resource with supported type.


Errors with VPAID

900 = Undefined Error. Even if you request VAST 3 or your DFP network default is VAST 3, this can occur if you have a VAST redirect that returns a VAST 2 response.

901 = General VPAID Error. This can occur when the “IMA Adapter” tag from Ad Exchange is used with the IMA SDK, and a VPAID ad is returned. You should use the “Direct SDK” tag from Ad Exchange when using the IMA SDK.


For more on how JW Player can support your video monetization, schedule time to talk with one of our video experts.


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The Playback

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


  • Apple Joins Alliance for Open Media: What Does it Mean?  (Streaming Media) “While Apple’s technical motives might be simple, their strategic motives appear more complicated: If it wants to build a video service that competes with Netflix and Amazon, it has to deliver to all devices, not just its own.”





  • The Need for Speed in a Changing Media Landscape (Streaming Media)The explosion in video content—along with a whole new array of video categories like VR, AR, and MR—means that technology needs to move faster than ever to keep up.”



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Join Us at the Consumer Technology Association’s CES 2018 Conference

Learn how to engage audiences with the latest innovations in marketing and video

What are the latest strategies in connecting powerful, can’t-ignore messaging to audiences? Can you create personalization at scale? Which marketing formats are breaking through on premium TV, short-form video, and multiplatform brand integrations? How are analytics helping marketers better target desired audience segments?

Join JW Player as we explore these questions and more at the Consumer Technology Association’s CES 2018 Conference in Las Vegas January 9-12, 2018. Our CEO Dave Otten will be speaking on a panel titled, “Let’s Get Connected: Titans of Audience Engagement.”

Event details:

Variety Entertainment Summit at C-Space
• January 10, 2018
• ARIA, Level 1, Bristlecone 4
• 2:10 p.m. to 2:50 p.m. Panel: “Let’s Get Connected: Titans of Audience Engagement”

Moderator: Gayle Fuguitt, Chief of Customer Insight and Innovation, Foursquare

• Dave Otten, Chief Executive Officer, JW Player
• Oliver Laubscher, Chief Media Officer, VICE Media
• Ira Rubenstein, Chief Digital and Marketing Officer, PBS
• Stephanie McMahon, Chief Brand Officer, WWE
• Barry Tishgart, SVP and GM BAMTech Media
• Eric Edge, Head of Global Marketing Communications and Industry Relations, Pinterest

Register here. The CES 2018 Conference features sessions on key trends so that attendees can get the big picture, the future landscape, or a deeper understanding of emerging technologies.

Come meet the JW Player team and learn how to leverage the power of video to effectively reach your audiences!

For more on becoming a video-first publisher:

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Embedding Vertical Videos? We Got You.

Bring 1:1 videos from Facebook to your owned & operated site

When you’re a video publisher, going viral on Facebook is like hitting the jackpot. Videos with a huge bank of comments, likes, and shares deserve a spot on your website.

Problem is: Facebook videos have a vertical, 1:1 aspect ratio, and your page might only support 16×9. Thinking you’ll have to drop that awesome video because it didn’t fit the specs? Never fear. JW Player supports the vertical video format, allowing you to easily export your videos from Facebook into your owned and operated (O&O) site.

With JW Player’s 1:1 embed, your videos appear as perfect squares. You don’t get those black bars off to the sides, which are inserted to prevent videos from stretching to fit certain aspect ratios.

Use the code below:

<div id=”myElement”></div>
<script type=”text/JavaScript”>
var playerInstance = jwplayer(“myElement”);
file: “//“,
width: “50%”,
aspectratio: “1:1”,

An excellent Facebook video shouldn’t just stay on Facebook. Get more mileage out of your social media success by repurposing your vertical videos on your O&O site.

To learn more about becoming a video-first publisher, schedule time to talk with one of our video experts:


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