What Is a Video Embed?

Part 2 of 5 from JW Player’s “Anatomy of a Video Series”

Last December, as part of our series on video fundamentals, we looked at the many definitions of a video play and found that “not all plays are created equal.” If you want to tell the full story of why and how viewers engage with content, the quality of a play matters a lot—but it isn’t the only benchmark. That story begins with “the embed.”


For most users, embedding starts with inserting a code to a website, linking to a video that’s hosted at another location, and surfacing a video player without using any resources from the website itself.

In the world of video technology, though, an embed doesn’t just occur the first time you go through these steps. It counts each time a page is refreshed.

If you primarily think of embeds as pieces of code, simplify that idea further. An embed is any instance that a player is shown.



Embeds are a proxy for web traffic—they estimate the total number of viewers coming to your video site. This metric could be entirely separate from the total number who actually played a video.

Together with plays, embeds reveal telling details about viewer behavior, choice, and engagement.

Let’s say you created a playlist. You made a single embed that featured many opportunities for plays. Some of your videos were played. Others were not.

By tracking the ratio of plays to embeds, you can measure engagement through a play rate. A high play rate means that the content was enticing—for every instance that a player was shown (the embed), the video was played most (or all) of the time.



Here at JW Player, we recommend using embeds to divide up your website. Place different embeds in various sections or pages so that you can compare which embeds led to the most engagement. Zero in on the locations or types of content that draw the most viewers.

In addition, you can easily filter for play rate through our segmentation tool. For those of you with highly engaging content, your play rate might exceed 100%.

We’re in the business of helping you achieve the best play rate possible. Schedule time to 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.