Playbook: Anatomy of a Video

Attracting more viewers starts with knowing how your videos are really doing

Over the past few months, we rolled out a five-part blog series on the key metrics of how and why viewers engage. If you followed the posts, you’re awesome. If you haven’t, it’s time to undo the tragedy. Our Video Analytics playbook is a quick and easy way to catch up. Download the guide today and discover how to use data to improve your video strategy.


Think you know everything about embeds, plays, ad impressions, completes, and time watched? “Anatomy of a Video” gets past the surface definitions and digs deeper into how each supports the full story of audience engagement. You’ll walk away with practical tips on how to measure and use these metrics to deliver greater content, more effective ads, and an overall better user experience.




To read all the posts in the blog series, click here:

What Is an Embed?
What Are Ad Impressions?
What Is a Play?
What Is a Complete?
What Is Time Watched?


For more information about using data to enhance viewer engagement, schedule time to talk with one of our video experts.


Contact Us

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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 and then visits 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.


Contact Us


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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.


Contact Us

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Infographic: The State of JW Player

A visual story about JW Player’s milestone year in video

Earlier this year, we shared data and facts about JW Player’s performance in 2017 in this blog post. We’ve now put together an infographic to visualize that story—including updated player and mobile stats, new client cases, and a bonus section about our company growth. Whether you’re meeting us for the first time, a long-time customer, or anyone in between, come on in and get to know JW Player better!


*Click for full infographic*


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


Trips a commercial plane would make around the world in the total time 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.


Decrease in load time between JW7 and JW8



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.

<0.5 Seconds

Median playback start time on JW8



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



Worked with Derek Jeter to tell first-person athlete stories

Interviewed Hollywood’s finest

Brought The Voice to millions online

Built a viral fan base for Game of Thrones


213 Number of employees in 2017

147 Number of employees in 2016

45% Growth in staff size

400+ New clients signed

2x Office space at NYC headquarters

Opened London office

#248 on Deloitte’s Technology Fast 500™

381% Revenue growth between 2017 and 2014


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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What Is Time Watched?

Part 5 of 5 from JW Player’s “Anatomy of a Video Series”

In telling the story of how and why viewers engage, we’ve now come to the final piece of the puzzle in our series on video fundamentals—“time watched.” Beyond embeds, ad impressions, plays, and completes, the “time watched” metric provides an added layer of nuance by identifying exact points of viewer drop-off and where you can improve your video strategy.

Time Watched, Defined

Time watched is the aggregate amount of time an individual has spent watching a player. This measurement takes into account that people might leave a video before it completes.

Let’s say your viewers watch 95% of a video and then shut down the player right before the end when the credits roll. Looking at a complete rate alone, you may infer that because there were no completes, engagement was low or nonexistent. But by looking at time watched, you can see that, in this case, the vast majority of the video was in fact consumed.


How Do You Measure Time Watched?

When one of our players takes an action—like delivering an ad or embedding onto a pageit reports that action back to JW Player via a ping. Most pings are based on a single action.

By contrast, time watched is measured by a continuous “heartbeat ping.” This ping is fired automatically at regular intervals throughout the duration of the video, essentially tapping into the “pulse” of how viewers watch content. As long as the video is running, the heartbeat ping registers, and this total time counts even if the video never completes.


Why Does Time Watched Matter?

Time watched prevents misleading conclusions from measuring completes alone and helps publishers figure out exactly how to make videos more engaging. By pinpointing where the heartbeat pings stopped and viewers dropped off in the video, this metric reveals what captured people’s attention, what didn’t, and what you can do to improve your content.

For example, let’s say you have a video with a long photo montage. If you find that people are dropping off in the middle of that segment, you might choose to make the montage shorter. If they are stopping the video as soon as the montage starts, you might replace that section with some other content to prolong viewer interest.

In short, relying only on a complete rate to gauge the effectiveness of your video could be imprecise. Considering completes along with time watched would paint a fuller picture of what happens after viewers click play.

Here at JW Player, we see time watched as a critical part of the algorithm for our Recommendations engine. A key factor for determining whether we surface a video in a recommended playlist is how long that video is typically watched.


Want to extend the time watched on your videos? Talk with one of our video experts.


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The “Anatomy of a Video” Series explores key measures of a video’s life cycle: embed, ad impression, play, complete, and time watched. Together, they provide a comprehensive picture of how and why viewers engage.


We hope you’ve enjoyed the series and will take advantage of all the insights that data offers in growing your video business!

The post What Is Time Watched? appeared first on JW Player.

What Is a Complete?

Part 4 of 5 from our “Anatomy of a Video Series”

In our series of video fundamentals, we’ve explored embeds, ad impressions, and plays.  We’re now at the end of the video life cycle: the complete. If your viewers have watched to this point, congrats! You’ve not only kept their attention, you’ve also unlocked a key component of the all-important Content Score.

Completes, Defined

Plain and simple: A complete is measured when the video has finished. In analytic terms, if a video is divided into four sections, reaching the end of the fourth quartile.

As we’ve seen, a play ratethe ratio of plays to embedsreveals how often viewers are enticed to watch.

A complete rate builds on that story by looking at the ratio of completes to plays.

A high complete rate is an indication of excellent content and engagement. For every play, viewers watched until the end most (or all) of the time, and viewer drop-off is minimal.


The Content Score

The story really emerges when you look at complete rates in tandem with play rates. Together they form the Content Score, a metric that JW Player has developed to allow you to easily and accurately compare the performance of all your media.

In the diagram below, the Content Score sits at the intersection of complete rates and play rates.



Why Do Content Scores Matter?

As an overall measure of a video’s performance, the Content Score shows how you can improve your video strategy.

Let’s say your Content Score is at video Alow play rate but high complete rate. Not a lot of people are clicking play, but the good news is, those who do love it. They watch until the end because the content is great. The solution here is more a question of marketing and promotion. What kind of thumbnails are you using? Is the player visible on the page? Are you driving traffic through social media?

Conversely, you Content Score could be at video Byou have a video with a high play rate but a low complete rate. People are enticed to click and watch, but they’re not likely to stick around. In other words, the book isn’t as great as the cover. The takeaway action here is to develop better contentraise the substantive quality so that viewers remain interested.


How Does JW Player Use the Content Score?

One of the initiatives we’re most excited about here at JW Player is our Content Score Lab. Run by our Analytics team, the lab allows you to look at your data in new ways (within a sandbox environment) and compare with real customer data across our entire network. We run at least 1-2 experiments each quarter with the goals of optimizing content, maximizing CPMs, and more.

Content Scores are also a key factor in powering our Recommendations engine. The Content Score calculation is part of the algorithm that we use to surface the most engaging, related content to your videos.


Want to improve the Content Score of your videos? Schedule time to talk with one of our video experts.


Contact Us

The “Anatomy of a Video” Series explores key measures of a video’s life cycle: embed, ad impression, play, complete, and time watched. Together, they provide a comprehensive picture of how and why viewers engage.

The post What Is a Complete? appeared first on JW Player.

What Are Ad Impressions?

Part 3 of 5 from JW Player’s “Anatomy of a Video” Series

So far in our exploration of video fundamentals, we’ve examined embeds and plays. But there’s often a step in between that underlies the success of all AVOD (advertising video on-demand) publishers. Ad impressions are the engines that turn plays into profits. Measuring them correctly and using these insights in evaluating audience loyalty are critical if you want to monetize successfully.


An ad impression is measured when an ad is delivered in the first frame. If the ad was skipped before reaching the end, the impression still counts.

Ad impressions can occur before the start of a video (preroll), in the middle (midroll), or after the end (postroll). For the purposes of this blog, we’ll focus on the most common form—preroll.

If prerolls are done poorly, they are the first point of viewer drop-off after the embed. Perhaps the ad took too long to load, or the ad content didn’t grab people’s attention. Or, worse yet, the ad was requested but never filled by advertisers.



Luckily, these potential challenges have a silver lining—they provide insight into audience fatigue and loyalty. By tracking how your viewers are interacting (or not interacting) with ads, you can make important business decisions, such as how best to retain your customers.

For example, if you detect high levels of ad fatigue and want to prevent viewers from bouncing from your site, you might exercise a certain restraint. You might intentionally hold off on serving ads in the next instance—in the hopes that some users will return tomorrow.

Essentially, you are investing in the lifetime value of the customer. You’re saying: I choose not to give you this ad now, so you are more likely to come back later. Over time, this increased loyalty translates into more ad revenue.



At JW Player, we offer tools to help you make the most of your ad impressions. Our ad scheduler gives you full control over when to show your ads, and it takes factors into account like video length.

For instance, if your video is 10 minutes long, it could make sense to use a midroll, whereas a 2- to 3-minute video would be a better match for a preroll.

You can gain a more detailed breakdown of your ad impressions through our segmentation tool. The tool is a great way to deep dive into how your ads are doing, slicing out which assets, configurations, or pages are driving the most impressions.


To learn more about how to successfully monetize your videos, schedule time to talk with one of our video experts.

Contact Us


The “Anatomy of a Video” Series explores key measures of a video’s life cycle: embed, ad impression, play, complete, and time watched. Together, they provide a comprehensive picture of how and why viewers engage.

The post What Are Ad Impressions? appeared first on JW Player.