JW Player and SpotX ink video player bidding agreement

SpotX has announced an integration with JW Player, a partnership offers header bidding-like monetization opportunities for publishers, with Rolling Stone publisher Penske Media already testing the technology.

The partnership will see the pair – JW Player is a video streaming provider and SpotX a video ad serving outfit – collaborate exclusively for 12 months, connecting both companies’ respective ecosystems.

Dubbed Video Player Bidding, the integration will help publishers on the JW Player network access a greater amount of bids for their video inventory compared to an earlier method of monetization called ‘waterfalling’ whereby an ad request is passed to different networks until the spot is bought.

Both outfits claim Video Player Bidding will help reduce latency (a common concern over the use of header bidding) as it doesn’t require publishers to apply any additional code to their websites (see video above).

By integrating directly into the video player, the ad decision is made server-side before a viewer hits play, vastly reducing latency, leading to higher fill rates and greater ad revenue, according to the company. Meanwhile, those on the buy-side (the initiative includes over 65 demand-side and sell-side platforms integrations) can also use the offering to access metadata, such as content adjacency, etc.

Header bidding is the practice by which publishers can simultaneously garner bids for ad impressions from multiple demand sources before calling the ad server (see image below), and its popular adoption by publishers in the display advertising landscape has been a key trend in recent years.

However, the potential of header bidding has yet to be fully realized in digital video, due to the difficulty of implementation and fragmented nature of the marketplace – the term ‘video header bidding’ is technically a misnomer, although the same principles to the display ad space still apply.

Both outfits claim that Video Player Bidding helps streamline the entire header bidding process by combining their respective ecosystems, with publishers using JW Player that satisfy SpotX’s brand safety requirements able to access its buyer demand.

Brian Rifkin, JW Player’s senior vice president of strategic partnerships, said the company chose to partner with SpotX after surveying the market for partners that can “bring significant, immediate demand to our publishers”.

Sean Buckley, SpotX’s chief revenue officer, said the partnership will help publishers more effectively monetize their inventory without any of the hassles they have experienced in the past.

Penske Media Corporation, owner of titles including Rolling Stone and Variety, is already testing the technology which will remain in pilot until March 1, with Brian Levine, vice president of revenue operations describing the offering as “much needed”.

He added: "Video monetization is quickly becoming the most important aspect of a publisher's programmatic strategy, and it's nice to see the two leaders in their respective specialties bring a simple, elegant solution to the marketplace."

The partnership announcement was made to coincide with the IAB Annual Leadership Meeting hosted in Palm Desert, California, where Unilever's marketing chief Keith Weed outlined his outfit's ambitions when it comes to transparency in the digital advertising space.

This comes shortly after the trade body published a white paper looking at the use case of blockchain technology in the video advertising market, concluding that the technology is “a natural fit for the digital advertising supply chain” as it bolsters efficiency, reduces the impact of fraud, and leads to a more trustworthy marketplace.

The white paper also contains case studies from companies including Kochava, MetaX, NYIAX, and Madhive. Benefits of the use of the technology, according to the study are listed below:

  • Low queries per second (QPS) compared to digital display advertising
  • High value, premium asset class with well-established standards and transactional processes
  • Fewer suppliers, most of whom are known to each other
  • Market is still nascent so players are motivated to innovate
  • Suppliers have lived through the first phase of automation (programmatic) and are more willing to be transparent, and more wary of intermediation
  • Lots of content delivery networks (CDN) are involved in the supply chain, and the CDNs are already peer-to-peer

However, a number of challenges still have to be overcome, according to the report authors, see below:

  • OTT inventory is already in high demand with sellers — who, as a result, may be less open to experimenting with new business models and processes
  • OTT digital video is already a high margin buy, so the inefficiency of multiple intermediaries is less obvious
  • Typically OTT has a complex set of endpoints, or clients, to serve the advertising to
  • Shared taxonomies, definitions and standards will be needed to enable “smart contracts” of the future, with flexibility to fix current problems and bring incremental improvements

Anna Bager, IAB executive vice president of industry initiatives, described blockchain as “the new siren’s call in the business world” and promised members further research into its application to the advertising sector.

Charles Manning, Kochava’s chief executive officer, added: “With a focus on creating new transactional efficiencies, we see an opportunity to replace the standard paper-based agreements with a new form of IO, manifested between buyers and sellers through smart contracts. Through these and other innovations, we see a future for a next-generation consensus model, supported by a protocol that will be able to handle millions of transactions per second.”

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