Not All Video Plays Are Created Equal

Part 1 of 5 from JW Player’s “Anatomy of a Video” Series

There’s a common misconception in the world of video: Most people think a video play is just a video play. Click a button and the content begins.

But there’s much more to it.

The definition of a play depends on who you’re asking and what you’re measuring. Here at JW Player, we believe that not all plays are created equal, and it’s important to understand what these differences are. Knowing how to evaluate the quality of a play is key to increasing views and engagement.


The definition of a play is tricky. A play might be:


  • The moment when the embedded player receives the request to play
    If load times are too long and the viewer bounces from the site, was there a play?


  • The three seconds after a pre-roll completes
    If the pre-roll doesn’t work or the video doesn’t run past the three seconds after the ad, did the play count?


  • The first frame of a piece of content
    If a loss of bandwidth interrupts the video, did the play occur?


  • The autoplay
    If viewers did not intend to watch and aren’t paying attention to content, is it fair to call it a play?


Now that we’ve covered different ‘play’ definitions, here’s how we approach them: At JW Player, we’re focused on the quality of plays, not just the quantity. While none of these definitions above are 100% right or wrong, they can make things confusing. We’ve created a way to make sense of the data.


Our powerful Segmentation tool aggregates plays across your network, allowing you to slice and dice your data. By grouping plays by location, player, and tags, you can monitor all your “plays” and grow the ones that matter most to you. You can analyze 16 different video metrics, such as completes, time watched, and ad impressions—things that are not usually provided by other video companies or in an overall analytics view.


When it comes to building a sustainable video business, the quality of your plays is vital. A publisher might see 1,000 plays for a video. But only 300 of them actually engaged a user or resulted in a viewer completing the video. It’s wise to question how well the plays did rather than assume that all 1,000 plays performed to their fullest.


With our Segmentation tool, you can use these insights to dive deeper into how your plays are enhancing Quality of Experience (QOE), which includes factors like whether users are likely to stay on the site, watch another video, or come back again. You can go beyond the surface and make strategic decisions based on your understanding of what kind of content viewers are most engaged with, which devices they’re coming from, and how advertising is performing in different areas.


In short, you can figure out which plays are actually working for you—and feature more of these videos to boost CPMs. Advertisers pay more for content that’s widely viewed.


So the next time you start a video, remember one of our JW Player “principles.”

“We hold these truths to be self-evident: that not all video plays are created equal, that they are endowed by their Publisher with certain measurable metrics, that among those are completion rate, engagement, and the pursuit of (viewer) happiness. ”  


Let our Segmentation tool boost your plays! 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.