JW Player and SpotX recently announced a new header bidding solution to drive improved video ad monetization across JW’s huge base of content publishers. Dubbed “Video Player Bidding,” the solution is meant to radically simplify and accelerate JW publishers’ implementation of header bidding, while exposing their inventory to SpotX’s deep pool of demand sources. I caught up with JW’s co-founder and SVP, Strategic Partnerships Brian Rifkin and SpotX’s CRO Sean Buckley, to learn more.
For those not familiar, header bidding is a way for publishers to increase yield on their ad inventory, by simultaneously accepting bids from various demand sources, with the highest bid winning. The approach contrasts with the traditional “waterfall” model, whereby bids are sequentially evaluated. As programmatic buying has gained in display ads, header bidding has become widely used.
Similar growth was expected for header bidding by many in the industry for video ads, as programmatic buying has soared. But as Brian and Sean pointed out, lots of publishers, especially mid-sized and smaller ones, have found that implementing header bidding was far more complicated than it was for display and therefore adoption has been slowed. The new JW-SpotX solution is meant to address these challenges and accelerate the market.
Sean explained the 3 different implementations that are available, which don’t require any additional code: 1) if a publisher uses Google’s DFP as their ad server, they can tap SpotX’s demand to supply bids which are completed in DFP, 2) if the publisher uses DFP, new SpotX bids can alternatively be fed directly into JW’s new mediation layer so in the case where a bid is higher than the pre-set floor price, JW won’t call DFP, thus reducing latency and 3) the publisher can use SpotX as its primary ad server, with pre-integration with JW already done.
Brian noted that despite the solution still being in beta, interest has been strong. Sean said that for SpotX, JW was the perfect partner because of its huge publisher footprint and joint desire to streamline header bidding. SpotX is JW’s exclusive partner for header bidding through March, 2019. As more video ad buying migrates to programmatic approaches, improving yield and implementing header bidding is going to be top of mind for publishers. That means a big opportunity for the JW-SpotX solution to see significant adoption.
Separate, Brian also highlighted JW’s ongoing efforts to improve the viewer experience. In its latest JW 8.1 release, the elapsed time from end of pre-roll ad to start of content improved from 2 seconds to 1 second for 75% of play starts. A majority of these play starts happened almost instantaneously. Between improved play starts and video monetization, Brian observed that JW is continuing to help publishers establish their owned and operated businesses, even as platforms play a critical role.