Not All Ad Requests Are Created Equal

May 29, 2018


Best practices on improving your video monetization from JW Player’s Vice President of Programmatic Strategy


At JW Player, my role as the Vice President of Programmatic Strategy is to help our customers maximize their return on investment when they’re gearing up to deploy our technology. This conversation typically kicks off with a discussion about best practices for video and how to optimize ad inventory. The goal is to help publishers drive the highest possible CPM and fill rates from programmatic advertisers.

In this article, I’ll cover some of the most crucial aspects of generating video revenue, leveraging pre-roll placements and Google AdX as the source of monetization.


As the online video advertising industry matures, the overarching trend to beware of is the shift towards an “intent to watch” model. Publishers who create a top-notch video viewing experience (in every sense) will be rewarded with premium advertising dollars. Thus, it’s important to measure how users engage with the pre-roll ads on your website.

There are three primary metrics that programmatic video buyers use: TrueView Skip Rate, Completion Rate, and Viewability Rate. As a rule of thumb, you want each metric to be above 60%. The closer to 100% the better.

TrueView Skip Rate

TrueView ads are video campaigns that allow the users to skip the ad after five seconds. Skipping is exactly what you want. The more users who click to skip the campaigns, the higher your CPM and fill rate will be. From the advertiser’s perspective, there’s no better measure of user engagement than the guarantee (in the form of a recorded click) that the user has watched at least five seconds of the campaign. The brand, product or service will typically be shown in the beginning of the commercial to accommodate this.

If the TrueView Skip Rate is low, it usually means one of two things: either you’re subject to bad traffic or you’ve implemented the player where users aren’t focusing their attention, such as in the sidebar of the page layout.

To increase your TrueView Skip Rate, make sure that the JW Player is the primary focus of the page, especially if you’re going to use autostart placements, akin to YouTube-style pages. However, note that user-initiated players always perform better than autostart players, since advertisers will know that the user has already engaged with the player.


Bonus tip #1 - When scheduling an AdX video creative, I recommend setting the max duration--90 seconds for skippable campaigns and 30 seconds for non-skippable campaigns. This will maximize eligible demand for your inventory.

Completion Rate

For non-skippable campaigns, the most critical metric is Completion Rate, which measures how many users watch the video ad till the end. This is where the quality of your content comes into play: A user is more likely to watch the entire commercial if there’s real desire to get to the video.

If your Completion Rate is low and the player has been implemented at the top of the page, have a look at Google Analytics to see how long your users are staying on the page. If they leave too quickly, it’s a sign the video content isn’t engaging enough, leaving video ads without a chance to finish.

If your Completion Rate is low and the player has been implemented at the bottom of the page, verify users aren’t navigating away from the page as soon as the player begins playback. In addition, make sure the viewer intends to watch the video. This is particularly important with autostart placements. To be blunt about it: Don’t embed a video for the sake of embedding a video. Make sure that the embedded video is relevant to the article.


Bonus tip #2 - Finding the right placement for your player can be a trial-and-error process. Every website is different, and I recommend that publishers embed players in multiple positions on the page and measure the performance for each by segmenting the inventory.

Viewability Rate

For video ads to make an impact, they ultimately need to be seen by users. The metric used here is called Viewability. The ad impression is deemed “viewable” when 50% of the ad (at the very least) is viewed for a minimum of 2 seconds. As with display campaigns, there’s direct correlation between Viewability and CPM. Advertisers won’t buy impressions on your site if the ads aren’t being viewed by anyone.

User-initiated players tend to record higher Viewability rates. Larger players are also more likely to be seen by the user. Therefore, I recommend setting the player size to a responsive dimension such as 16:9 and then making sure that the parent div container of the embed is as wide as possible — especially on mobile — to occupy the maximum amount of real estate.

Low viewability rates are common if users on your page scroll away from the player as soon as it loads. With JW Player 8, you can enable autostart on-view, but this setting is only effective if the page loads quickly and there are no third-party widgets or display ads hovering above it.

If your Viewability rate is low and the player has been implemented in a sticky position, there’s most likely a technical issue. Contact our support team to have a look at the implementation. That said, it’s important to recognize that while sticky players are good for increasing Viewability rates, they usually fall short on all the other engagement metrics.


Bonus tip #3 - Many publishers are subject to Multiburn on their pages. This means that multiple players from multiple companies are playing (and autostarting) at the same time. This is a very common reason for CPM and fill rate being low even though Skip, Completion, and Viewability rates are good. In a nutshell, more video plays (and impressions) don’t necessarily equal more revenue, and it’s important to ensure quality over quantity when managing your inventory.  You don’t want to dilute the quality of your inventory.

How to measure your own performance

To measure how your own website stacks up in Google DFP, please follow the instructions in the images below.







To learn more about improving your monetization opportunities, schedule time to speak with a video expert.


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