Customisation, Interactivity and Monetisation: A Guide to the Video Players


The video players are a key, and perhaps often underappreciated, part of the video advertising ecosystem. Many are rolled into larger ‘online video platform’ products, meaning it can be hard to keep track of who actually owns video players, and what they do.

There are a plethora of products available, so to help navigate the noise, here is our guide to some of the key players:

JW Player

Launched: 2005

Mediums: Desktop, Mobile and OTT; VOD and Live Streaming

Major Clients: Sky, Turner, Fox, Viacom, Vice, Daily Mail

Key features: One of the more widely used players, JW Player claims to have a global footprint of over one billion unique users. JW Player uses HTML5, and claims to allow a “buffer free experience” using HLS and DASH adaptive streaming. The player supports both 360 video and virtual reality.

The player is customisable, with clients able to adjust colour, speed and thumbnails among other factors. It also uses machine learning and metadata extraction to automatically generate thumbnails and captions where needed.

JWPlayer also offers real-time metrics to measure video performance.

How is it monetised?: JW Player claims to work with any video ad server, network or exchange, and includes build-in support for SpotX, Google Ad Manager, AdX and FreeWheel. A few years back JW Player also introduced ‘Video Player Bidding’, a version of header bidding built directly into the player to enable demand sources to compete simultaneously.

BrightcoveBrightcove

Launched: 2004

Mediums: Desktop, Mobile and OTT; VOD and Live Streaming

Major Clients: Ford, Condé Nast, BBC Worldwide, Oracle, PBS, Gannett

Key features: Online video platform (OVP) Brightcove runs an HTML5 video player as part of its platform. Its player is built off the popular video.js open source HTML5 player framework (which it sponsors).

Brightcove says clients can customise the player’s appearance, social integrations, and end-screen options. The player also accepts third-party plug-ins and integrations for interactive elements (as well as having some native interactive capabilities), and has 360 video support.

Brightcove acquired Ooyala, another major player in the space, in February last year.

How is it monetised?: Brightcove has integrations with Google Ad Manager, SpotX and FreeWheel for video monetisation, which include linear video ads, video overlays, and companion ads (which appear next to the player). Brightcove allows dynamic server-side ad insertion (SSAI), which it says works for both on-demand and live content.

FlowplayerFlowplayer

Launched: 2007

Mediums: Desktop and Mobile, VOD and Live Streaming

Major Clients: HBO, Universal, Disney, Bonnier, IBM

Key Features: Chief revenue officer Henrik Lovén says that unlike some others in the market, OVP Flowplayer’s video player was built with HTML5 in mind from the start (as opposed to being built for Flash, and adjusted for HTML5.

Lovén says the video player size is very small, making it fast to load and quick to start, and that the small codebase is also less prone to bugs. He added that Flowplayer also rarely updates the core player code, instead building plugins to add new features.

How is it monetised?: Flowplayer enabled both subscription and advertising-based monetisation models. For ad-driven models, clients can use their own VAST/VPAID compliant ad tags for both instream and outstream ads. Flowplayer also provides ad analytics to help identify where errors are occuring, and improve fill rates.

Kaltura

Launched: 2006

Mediums: Desktop, Mobile and OTT, VOD and Live Streaming

Major Clients: Warner Bros, Turner, HBO, Viacom, Mediacorp

Key Features: Kaltura’s HTML5 video player, part of its online video platform, can be customised to alter the player size and colour, to determine which features like speed controls, sharing widgets and accessibility tools are enabled. Kaltura says it uses adaptive bitrate streaming to maintain feedback quality.

Kaltura also places emphasis on the interactive features clients can add. Publishers can add in chapters which viewers can use to navigate content, or can enable search for keywords within the video (based on captions and voice recognition). Kaltura says clients can also add quizzes, calls-to-action, and ‘choose-your-own-adventure’ functionality to their video content.

How is it monetised?: Kaltura says its player platform integrates with “all the major ad networks and analytics providers”, including partnerships with Google Ad Manager, FreeWheel, Comscore and Nielsen. Kaltura enables server-side ad sticking for pre, post and mid-roll ads.

BridTVBridTV

Launched: 2016

Mediums: Desktop, mobile and OTT, VOD and Live Streaming

Major Clients: EnthusiastGaming, MundoHispanica, VelvetNetwork, FutbolSites

Key Features: One of the newer offerings on this list, BridTV says that through async loading, the player remains lightweight and fast-loading. Business development manager Milan Dukic says that the player customisation, which includes the ability to adjust colour, add branding, and customise buttons, is one of the player’s key features.

BridTV also offers outstream units with “display banner fallback”, which switched the outstream unit out for a banner ad when the outstream ad isn’t filled.

Dukic added that BritTV’s pricing model is a key part of its offering, as clients can pay via monthly (rather than yearly) subscriptions, and there are no play limits imposed.

How is it monetised?: BridTV has integrations with AdX and SpotX among others, and enables header bidding through prebid.js and the SpotX partnership. It also uses its own ‘BridTV Marketplace’ to fill any unsold impressions.

VidyardVidyard

Launched: 2011

Mediums: Desktop and Mobile

Major Clients: Microsoft, LinkedIn, HubSpot, Drift, Sharp

Key Features: One of Vidyard’s more unique features is its inclusion of interactive elements designed to capture customer data, for example through mid-video forms, gates and links. Marketers can then use that information to customise the rest of the video. The player supports both 4k and 360 video.

Vidyard also allows customisation of the video player unit, and enables automatic transcriptions for content. Clients can also A/B test thumbnails to help drive performance.

How is it monetised?: Vidyard is geared towards marketers rather than publishers, so the player doesn’t enable third-party ads.


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