Video Player Bidding: The Future of Video & Ad Tech

JW Player partners with SpotX to deliver a groundbreaking solution for online video advertising  

We’re thrilled to announce the launch of Video Player Bidding, a breakthrough header bidding solution for video with our exclusive partner SpotX, the leading video ad serving platform for publishers.

This special partnership marks the first time video advertising will be directly integrated into a player. Rather than inserting an ad script into the header of a page, publishers can simply flip a switch from a video platform to activate header bidding, no implementation required. In essence, you get the benefits of header bidding without the header.

By connecting JW Player publishers with Spot X’s vast ad server network, video player bidding overcomes the challenges inherent in header bidding—greatly improving monetization with maximum CPMs and ad fills. For publishers trying to achieve the unenviable task of merging video tech with ad tech, video player bidding brings together the best of both worlds.

THE CHALLENGES OF HEADER BIDDING

Header bidding is the practice by which publishers can simultaneously garner bids for ad impressions from multiple demand sources before calling the ad server, resulting in more overall ad yield for publishers.

While in theory these programmatic exchanges should happen automatically, in practice the process is complicated and hard to implement, especially in a fragmented marketplace.

In addition, header bidding is a direct cause of page latency. Plugging in more SSP tags slows pages down significantly and increases the likelihood of viewers installing ad blockers.

THE BENEFITS OF VIDEO PLAYER BIDDING

Video player bidding offers a powerful solution to these challenges. By integrating directly into the web player, the ad decision is made server-side before a viewer hits play, vastly reducing latency.

Compared to header bidding, the process is much more streamlined. Publishers will have access to 65+ DSPs, driving demand and giving advertisers access to previously unavailable premium inventory. Publishers can also leverage valuable video metadata to increase the value of their inventory.

INNOVATION AT ITS FINEST

We couldn’t be more excited to join SpotX in bringing this innovation to the market. In an age when brand safety, trust, and transparency are of paramount importance in the digital ad world, we believe our one-of-a-kind solution will help both publishers and advertisers reach unprecedented success.

Video player bidding will be available beginning March 1, 2018. To learn more and to sign up for more information, go to www.jwplayer.com/video-player-bidding or watch this interview with JW Player Co-founder Brian Rifkin and SpotX Chief Revenue Officer Sean Buckley discussing the solution:

 

 

Ready to become a video-first publisher? Schedule time to talk with one of our video experts.

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Buffering, Be Gone

Smoothly transition video ads to content with background loading in JW 8.1

It’s a common problem in the world of digital video: After an ad plays, the video buffers. And buffers. (And buffers.) It can take so long that you stop watching.

When it comes to transitioning smoothly from advertising to content, online video has always trailed behind broadcast TV.

At JW Player, we tackle this issue head-on by reducing buffer times to 2-3 seconds on average. And with our new player JW 8.1, we’ve cut that time down even more. JW 8.1 loads video while prerolls and midrolls play, so there’s virtually no buffering—and content continues instantly after these ads. The result? An online video experience that’s as seamless as cable TV.

Background loading has reduced time to first frame (TTFF) to just milliseconds. Comparing JW7 with JW8, we’ve seen immediate success:

  • 3x faster median TTFF across the board
  • Up to 65% more players with nearly instant TTFF of under 100ms
  • Up to 3x faster TTFF with preload auto instead of preload metadata (default)

One of the most common reasons for viewer drop-off is buffering before playback. Keep eyeballs on the video with smarter preloads and sub-second load times in JW 8.1.

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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Browser-Level Autoplay Restrictions: The Advertising Impact

As desktop browsers place restrictions on autoplay, publishers have more reason than ever to embrace click-to-play advertising

With changes in the industry over the last year and a half around supporting autoplay for mobile (when muted) and the more recent newsworthy restrictions implemented by Safari 11 and soon Chrome 66, there are some clear pieces of information and actions necessary for anyone in the digital video world.

 

Click-to-play is king

As we’ve said many times before, click-to-play is the future of the online video world. Not only does it help with monetization, but web browsers are making autoplay harder as a way to improve the user experience of viewers across the web. Embracing click-to-play is the clear path forward.

 

Desktop, meet Mobile

Mobile devices only allow autoplay when the content or ad is muted. Desktop is now joining the party in an effort to improve user experience and save bandwidth for viewers. Fortunately, this unifies the behaviors, simplifying things and making it easier to remember what the behavior will be.

 

Safari 11 desktop

Safari 11 brought autoplay restrictions with it.

 

The new default (which is configurable by the viewer) is to only allow autoplay if the content or ad is muted. This is set on a page by page basis, and viewers can choose to always allow autoplay, or never allow autoplay for that page.

 

Chrome 66* desktop

Chrome will implement similar restrictions as Safari that you can read more about here.

* While the Chrome version number and date have been shuffled around a bit, the current timeline from Google puts these changes around mid-April 2018.

 

Safari 11 came with a fair amount of buzz even with it only being 5% of traffic; surely Chrome’s 45% is nothing to ignore.

 

Why do desktop autoplay restrictions matter?

When desktop browsers restrict autoplay, ads will start immediately and then get paused, requiring users to click on them to continue OR the ad will error out and then require the user to click to start the content:

 

This change is a departure from autoplay ads, which allow ad requests and ad impressions to happen automatically, eating up bandwidth and inflating numbers for what may not be a real, watched ad. More importantly, user experience is poor.

 

While autoplay ads pump up impressions, they often aren’t the most effective. A click-to-play ad (in an autoplay-restricted browser) supports intent to watch and, in the long run, reaches audiences much better.

 

So long story short: These desktop autoplay restrictions might seem daunting. But they’re actually a significant step toward creating online videos that place user experience first and make ads more successful.  

 

How will JW Player handle the change?

Given how poor the user experience is in autoplay, the player needs to detect the browser setting and react accordingly, prior to starting playback. To do this, the player will have to test to see which scenario is allowed:

  1. If the publisher wants to autoplay, and we detect we can autoplay, we will
  2. If we detect we can’t autoplay, but can autoplay muted, we’ll check to see whether the publisher has confirmed they want to run ads muted, and we’ll mute the player to let it run
  3. If we can’t autoplay at all, the player will disregard the autoplay setting and remain in a click-to-play state

 

There are some pretty serious advertising implications, not the least of which is that advertisers may not be keen to have their ads run muted, and that plays and impressions will likely drop for many sites. But as mentioned above, the quality of those impressions will likely be improved with click-to-play.

 

Google IMA

Aside from the functionality above, Google has a requirement that entails passing autoplay and mute settings along with ad requests so that advertisers have more transparency around what the player functionality will be when their ad would run. This allows advertisers to decide whether they want to run ads on autoplay players, muted players, etc.

 

So what do I need to do?

JW Player will be releasing a new version of the player that fixes the user experience and passes the appropriate information to Google. If you’re on the latest version of JW8, you’ll get the update.

 

If you’re not on the latest version of the player, you’ll need to update. This isn’t a bad thing as you’ll get loads of new functionality and better performance as you can see in some of our other posts, like this one about the benefits of JW8.

 

What happens if I don’t do anything?

If you’re not on the latest version of the player, a few key things will happen as the browser changes proliferate:

  1. The user experience on your pages will remain poor, driving viewers away
  2. Advertisers may opt out of bidding on your ad inventory, resulting in a lower fill rate, or bid less, resulting in a lower CPM
  3. You may simply get ad errors rather than impressions

Update!

Much like the Flashpocalypse, this is an unavoidable industry movement for the better. With such advance notice, the Flashpocalypse passed quietly into the night and is now a distant memory. Take this opportunity to get on the latest and greatest version of JW Player and ensure you get out in front of these important upcoming changes.

 

You can read more about autostarting and some of these issues in more detail in our support article.

 

Ready to become a video-first publisher? Schedule time to talk with one of our video experts.

 

Contact Us

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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.

Contact Us

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