Ad Preloading in the Buffer-Free Player

JW Player loads ads ahead of user-initiated playback so prerolls are ready to go when videos begin

At our annual JW Insights conference, we announced the final piece of the story that makes up the Buffer-Free Player—ad preloading. Since the first part of the story was released back in JW 7.2, we want to take a moment to remind you of everything that goes into reducing buffering. Understanding fully how it works is key to ensuring your player is optimized for improved user engagement and monetization.

 

“Speed is the bedrock of video experience success” —Bill Day, COO, JW Player, at JW Insights 2018

 

Speed is always top of mind when building features for the player. JW8 had a core mission around speed and in the months since release has proven to perform well in all environments, including those with many network requests or low bandwidth.

To recap the story of what it means to have a Buffer-Free Player, we can start by noting that preloading video content has been supported in JW Player for a long time. When there is no preroll ad, content can be preloaded before a user initiates playback to reduce the buffering time.

However, if there is a preroll ad, preloading the content wasn’t possible because the ad interrupted that process. We solved that problem in JW 8.1 by loading the video content while the ad is played, which resulted in 75% of plays starting up in less than a second, if not instantaneously.

 

 

In short, we can reduce buffering of video content when there are no ads and when running content after ads. There is however still a large gap in a buffer-free experience given that many of our customers run preroll ads. Content may start and resume quickly, but there’s still the dreaded ad buffering that happens first, and can lead to user drop-off before content starts as well as overall user pain.

Ad preloading takes the last major step toward a truly Buffer-Free player by making ad requests in advance of user-initiated playback, whether it be via clicking play or scrolling the player into view so that it autostarts. By doing so, the ad is fetched from the ad server early, even traversing wrappers and redirects that typically add extra buffering. By the time the user initiates playback, the ad is ready to go, cutting buffering time in half.

 

 

 

 

While there are some caveats to ad preloading as noted in our support documentation, such as not being able to preload VPAID ads, and not being able to preload when the player autostarts in view, it is undeniable that the reduction in buffering time is visually impressive in low-bandwidth situations.

 

 

Player example end

The difference in a preloaded ad experience vs. one that wasn’t preloaded.

 

Ad preloading won’t be perfect for every use case, but it goes a long way in improving the user experience of your site and encouraging viewers to both stay on your site and come back in the future.

We are very excited to offer this new functionality, and feedback has been great in the early stages since release. We encourage you to have a conversation with your ad server about ad preloading and the logistics around reporting on preloaded ads, then turn the functionality on via your dashboard for a great improvement in user engagement.

 

To learn more about JW Player’s Buffer-Free Player, schedule time to speak with a video expert.

 

Contact Us

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How to Build the Perfect Video Test Page

Part 2 of JW Player’s Support Team series on video tips and tricks

There is always more than one way to do things, and certainly building websites is no exception. We are not familiar with the entire tech stack you have built on your website (a.k.a. we are not going to read through your minified code), but we are experts when it comes to JW Player. This might be the first time you are trying to implement our player on a page, but we do this every day. Like those insurance commercials, we know a thing or two because we have seen a thing or two…okay, make that closer to 50,000 support cases.

 

When you come to us with a support issue, the first thing we are going to try to do is reproduce it. Here are some key data points you can tell us right away to make it even easier for us to reproduce your issue:

  • Please send us a link to a test page that contains only the HTML and Javascript code necessary to reproduce the issue. We want to eliminate external JS libraries, custom CSS on the page, etc., but more and more we are seeing things like DRM videos or keys that cannot be requested by our IP address or infinite scroll pages that require us to scroll down to the fifth article before a player appears. And you never know, maybe building this test page will help you isolate the cause without having to submit a case to us in the first place.
  • Have you listed out the reproduction steps? Do we have to click here first or seek to there before the problem occurs? Or do we have to use a specific browser on a specific OS, like IE11 on Windows 8.1?
  • If your ads are not playing, have you asked your ad network for a sample ad tag that fills 100% of the time? In most of the cases we get about this, our player is doing everything correctly. The only problem is that the ad network is not sending us an ad to play!

 

Here’s another fun tip that might be new to you:

If you are using a single-line embed code from your JW Dashboard on your page and something is not quite right, you can also quickly test that same embed in a JW preview page. “How quick is it, Todd?” Simply copy the script URL ending in .js and paste it into a new browser tab. But before you press Enter to load the page, change the .js at the end to .html and then load that .html page. (This .html page just happens to be the same URL we use for <iframe> embeds.)

Boom, you now have a test page with only that embed code’s player settings and video content. If the problem does not exist on this page, there must be something else on your page conflicting with our Javascript or CSS. If the same problem occurs on the JW preview page, submit a case and tell us what is going on. Sounds like you found a bug in the player or something with that video encode is not quite right.

 

While we’re on the topic of tips and tricks, here are some other hopefully quick fixes:

  • How are you loading the player on the page? If you are using a self-hosted player and you are not using the latest and greatest version from our production channel, the first thing we are going to do is test in the latest version. Perhaps that bug has already been squashed in the latest release!
  • Which player configuration options are you passing in the setup() call? Perhaps you are overriding a player default that was set in the dashboard and you were not even aware it was happening…
  • Who is hosting your content? If your content is encoded and hosted by JW Player, then I would not expect CORS errors, for example. If your video was encoded by someone else, does the same issue occur when you upload the video to your JW Player account and our encoders have a try?

And in the next blog post, we dive headfirst into the wonderful world of why your ads are not playing…

 

Hope this is useful. Please let me know how else I can help,

Todd

Director, Technical Support Team

todd@jwplayer.com

 

For more posts from the Support Team series, click here.

 

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

Contact Us

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Improving Video Startup Quality with Adaptive Streaming

With JW 8.3, you won’t have to choose between startup quality and speed

Publishers with premium or co-sponsored content seek both startup speed and video quality.  In the past, this has meant trading off video quality for speed: to maintain fast startup times, our player doesn’t wait for an initial quality estimation before downloading segments and beginning playback. Instead, our player has always defaulted to the lowest quality setting in the manifest, sometimes resulting in negative impacts to viewer experience and brand integrity.

To help customers with these challenges, JW 8.3 improves adaptive streaming, avoiding the lowest quality setting altogether if the viewer’s available bandwidth and the player size can support a higher quality start.

The player maintains the viewer’s bandwidth between videos, allowing the second and subsequent videos to benefit from a higher quality start at the beginning. If the viewer is watching the player embed’s first video, the player can start up at the last known bandwidth when a viewer returns to a site on the same device and browser. All players 8.3.0 and higher will benefit from improved startup quality out of the box.

We often hear from publishers that their own proprietary data suggests that the majority of their viewerbase is accessing content from high-speed connections. As a result, many publishers want to force the player to start their content at the highest quality possible. While we trust our publisher’s judgement, we also want to maintain the “no buffer” experience for which we’re known, and protect viewers on poor connections. Our new configuration option, “defaultBandwidthEstimate” represents a middle ground for publishers. This option can be used with any custom setup block.

This configuration option enables publishers to provide an initial bandwidth estimate (in bits, as is standard for video bandwidth estimation) across all viewers. This estimate can be used when the player has no other information about the viewer’s bandwidth (e.g. in case of a first-time visitor). The player’s saved bandwidth information or the viewer’s manually-selected quality level always takes precedence over the default bandwidth estimate setting.

By default, the player’s initial bandwidth estimate for all viewers is 500000, or 500 kilobytes per second download speed. But if you know your viewers tend to watch your content on broadband connections of at least 5 mb/s, you may want to set your “defaultBandwidthEstimate” to “5000000,” which will tell the player to choose an initial quality level of 5 mb/s bandwidth. Need to convert your estimate into bits? Here’s a handy calculator our engineering team uses!

One important thing to know is that the default bandwidth estimate affects the first estimate only. After the first segment, the player dynamically adjusts the viewer’s quality up or down to avoid viewers experiencing rebuffer events. The algorithm never requests a quality threshold that exceeds the width of the video player, which saves bandwidth and improves viewer experience.

For more information, see our support article about adaptive bitrate streaming, and for implementation details for the bandwidth configuration option, see our configuration reference. JW 8.3.0 is now available on the beta channel and for self-hosting and will be generally available tomorrow. We would love any feedback that you have to share.

 

To learn more about JW 8.3, schedule time to speak with a video expert.

 

Contact Us

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How to Get Started with Video Player Bidding

Integrate header bidding into your player with just one click

Until now, the potential of header bidding for video has been limited by difficult implementation and a fragmented marketplace. Video Player Bidding is a market-changing solution built for video to reduce latency and boost monetization with just one click. We’re here to help you onboard.

It’s Finally Here!

Header bidding has been an industry standard in display for a few years, but video header bidding is still cutting-edge. While video header bidding unlocks more ad revenue via increased fill rate and higher CPMs, it comes with many hurdles that most publishers haven’t been able to overcome.

 

JW Player recognized the market challenges and the incredible benefits of video advertising and knew that partnering with a top tier advertising technology company was the solution. After much due diligence, JW Player chose to team up with SpotX to offer the best integration to publishers. SpotX is a video ad serving platform that offers programmatic infrastructure for premium media owners & publishers, providing them with access to 65+ demand sources with reduced latency.

 

Now with JW8 (which is great by the way), you can finally turn on Video Player Bidding powered by SpotX with one click!

Why It Matters

Video header bidding is fragmented and difficult to implement at scale. The process is complex, requiring a lot of custom coding that can slow down your entire page as well as a fair amount of control over the page where you’re running video. If you’re motivated, it’s doable but not ideal.

 

As a publisher, you want more control over how advertisers are programmatically bidding on your video inventory. Header bidding boosts ad revenue via increased fill rates and higher CPMs, as well as provides the desired control, but there is no easy solution that leads to fast bids and ads. On the other side of the table, advertisers want more access to quality video inventory. JW Player’s Video Player Bidding is the first solution that gives both sides the control they’ve been seeking.

 

Through the integration built directly into JW Player, you can provide buyers access to player settings, content settings, and viewability data, which increase the value of your inventory. This all happens before the user clicks the player. That means no extra buffering before the ad loads and increased viewer retention.

 

Why It’s Hard

Whether you’re just starting with video header bidding or are working on integrating your fifth bidder, any integration takes some work to get set up. In the past you would need to load a script in the page header, request a bid from the bidder, wait for the response, then proceed down the path from there. This can require 100 lines of code or more on the page with multiple network requests — and all of this overhead creates latency and slows the page down!

 

Welcome to Video Player Bidding

By integrating SpotX and header bidding directly into the player, we’ve reduced a complex workflow with lots of Javascript to just one click in your JW Player dashboard:

 

Alternatively, you can use just a few lines of code in the player configuration:

 

What this means is that if you’re already running video ads with JW Player, turning on video player bidding could be as simple as one click in our dashboard. The ease of implementation is by far the biggest benefit.

Beyond the simplicity, working with one bidder like SpotX means minimal added page latency. By not requiring additional code in the header, your page load time and player setup time remain low. As we’ve evangelized in the past, and have continued to do so, this is incredibly important for user experience.

 

How Do I Get Started?

As you’d expect, the process is simple. We’ll break down your next steps:

  1. Already running ads via JW Player and have a relationship with SpotX
    • Reach out to your SpotX rep for information. You’re just a few clicks away!
    • Check out our Getting Started Guide for more details
  2. Already running ads via JW Player but aren’t yet working with SpotX
    • Visit this link to get in touch with SpotX to get started
    • SpotX will guide you through the onboarding process
    • Check out our Getting Started Guide if you have any concerns or reach out to your JW Player account manager
    • You’re good to go!
  3. Not yet a JW Player customer but have a relationship with SpotX
    • We’d love to hear from you!
    • Getting up and running with JW Player takes no time at all. If you’re migrating from another player, we’re happy to consult on the migration process
    • Once you’ve got video ads running with JW Player, turning on video player bidding is just a click away!
  4. I don’t currently work with JW Player or SpotX but I sure want to!
    • We’re excited to work with you too! Reach out to JW Player, and we’ll get you in touch with the right people and get your video ads running ASAP

 

To learn more about getting started with Video Player Bidding, schedule time to talk with one of our video experts.

 

Contact Us

The post How to Get Started with Video Player Bidding appeared first on JW Player.

How Fast Is Your Mobile Video Site?

It could determine your Google search ranking

Starting this July, Google will use page speeds to rank mobile websites in search results.

What does this Google “Speed Update” mean for video publishers? If you want more viewers to discover your site, make sure your page loads quickly with a smooth and seamless mobile video experience.

Google has been feeling the need for speed for some time. It’s already used page speeds to determine desktop search rankings. The latest extension to mobile will primarily affect the slowest pages on the web. Many of them are saddled with unnecessary plug-ins and scripts. Specific to video, long buffer times and clunky ad integrations make sites sluggish as well.

Fortunately, supporting a lightning-fast video experience is what JW Player does best. Last fall, we released JW8, our most lightweight player yet. It speeds up pages by reducing video load times up to 30%, making fewer server requests, and using a 50% smaller embed script.

A faster page doesn’t just prevent a drop in search rankings. It also leads to greater monetization opportunities and keeps users on your page longer.  

Some of our best publishers are already off to the races. According to Digiday, these JW Player clients achieved top marks in Google’s speed test:

 

Business Insider

Bustle

Cosmopolitan

Diply

International Business Times

PBS

Refinery29

SheKnows

 

Ready to turbocharge your video business? Schedule time to talk with one of our video experts.

 

Contact Us

 

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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.

Contact Us

The post How Facebook’s Changes Could Impact Your Video Strategy appeared first on JW Player.

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.

 

Contact Us

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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”);
playerInstance.setup({
file: “//example.com/uploads/myVideo.mp4“,
width: “50%”,
aspectratio: “1:1”,
});
</script>

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:

 

Contact Us

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