Finding the most suitable video player should be one of the most important parts of a publisher’s strategy for running video ads. Selecting a video player that aligns with a publisher’s requirements can be a challenging task with so many options available. Additionally, there are other technical factors such as VAST-compliance, UI/UX customisations, etc. that publishers should also look at.
In the past, we have already made a compelling case for our readers to experiment with video advertising. In this post, we will talk about the importance of video players for ads, their evolution, how to choose the best one, and the top ones available.
Importance of Video Players
Publishers often focus on finding the best video ad network and the technicalities of VAST or VPAID. However, the importance of video players is often overlooked.
Video players bridge the gap between the user and the ad. Some ads like in-stream cannot be served without a video player and the user cannot view without it. That’s how essential their role is.
Next, the video player communicates with the ad server that sends signals in form of a markup language such as VAST. Using VAST or VPAID (the two most common video ad serving templates), a video player is able to read details about the ad creative. And that’s how brands are able to let their ads be seen by the users.
How to Choose the Best Video Player
Video players have undergone a tremendous amount of technological evolution. Initially, they were only meant for playing ads. But now they come with additional features such as providing insights, integration with different ad networks, etc. However, some of the core principles of finding a suitable video player are still intact.
Here’s how publishers can choose the best video player for them:
Google IMA SDK Integration
If a publisher’s primary ad server is Google Ad Manager, then Google recommends integration with their IMA SDK. This integration allows publishers to display all video ad formats from Ad Manager using API and send reports from the video player to the server. Hence, a video player that can support this integration should be ideal.
VAST and VPAID Compliance
As mentioned, VAST and VPAID are two most common ad serving templates used by video players to communicate with ad servers. Therefore, it makes sense to choose a VAST/VPAID compliant player. These IAB templates are responsible for most of the video ads we see on the web nowadays.
Most publishers might require UI/UX modifications in video players according to their customer base, website capabilities, etc. This is why it is essential that the video player, a publisher chooses, is customizable in nature with proper documentation available for tweaking the settings.
There are a plethora of video ad formats such as pre-roll, overlay, etc., available in the market right now and publishers must make use of as many as possible. Opting for a video player that offers adoption and implementation of any ad format should be the ideal choice.
Best Video Players for Medium-Large Publishers
This is one of the most reliable names in the video advertising industry. Brightcove is a Google video player partner, thus making the integration with Google Ad Manager quite easy for publishers. Here are some of the distinguishing features of Brightcove:
- Brightcove is quite developer-friendly. This means that using their easily accessible documentation and customizable UI, publishers can deliver video ads according to their preferences.
- Their video player allows server-side/dynamic ad insertion which is also called ad stitching. It means that video ads are inserted into video content based on real-time data generated by the user.
- Brightcove provides video player analytics with actionable insights. Publishers can test videos on different ad placements on the page and the player will report which placement is working well.
- The player is able to support different video serving templates including VAST, VPAID, and VMAP. They also offer an OTT monetization service for mobile, desktop, connected TVs and others.
In addition to these, Brightcove offers a host of other video solutions that can be used to make video ad serving easier. Some of these include Video Marketing Suite, Brightcove Engage, Video Cloud, etc.
Brightcove has three different packages based on publisher team sizes and video needs. These packages include Marketing, Enterprise, and Monetization. For pricing and other queries, publishers can directly contact them.
Brid TV is also a Google partner, thus having the same integration advantages as that of Brightcove. Since its inception, Brid.TV has experienced rapid growth by serving in 230 million streams as of February 2019.
- Brid.TV’s video player is Google compliant, hence offering the IMA SDK integration without hassles.
- It supports all kinds of video ad formats such as pre-roll, mid-roll, overlay, and others. It is also VAST and VPAID compliant and the tech support offered is quite seamless.
- Brid.TV offers a feature called Async Load which reduces ad load time and makes the player quite lightweight.
- Some of their additional services are video header bidding, outstream ads, ad reporting and analytics, and others.
Brid.TV offers three plans for publishers including Free, Basic, and Premium.
- Free version allows 250k plays and 150K ad calls.
- Basic version is for $25 a month allowing 500K plays, 250K ad calls, 300GB video streaming per month, and a host of other benefits.
- Premium version trumps all the others because of its customizations based on publisher demands and its pricing is based on publishers needs, hence not pre-decided.
Founded in 2005, JW Player is a very popular name in the video ad serving market. Some of their clients include Accuweather, DailyMail, National Geographic, Insider Inc., Viacom, Eurosport, and others.
- JW Player offers a very thorough documentation for publishers to easily integrate the video player on webpages. This documentation can be accessed here.
- Their player makes sure that there are no buffering delays. This is enabled by HLS and DASH adaptive streaming.
- JW Player offers a Video Intelligence solution that has reporting capabilities and analytics for publishers in order to check the performance of their ads.
- Publishers also have access to many other monetization services such as Video Header Bidding, Video Monetization, Yield Optimization, and others.
- JW Player can also be integrated with apps and therefore, is very suitable for a mobile environment.
- Additional features include VAST and VPAID advertising, Google IMA Integration, Advanced Ad Scheduling, and others.
JW Player offers three kinds of packages including Developer, Starter, and Enterprise. The Developer package is free and provides full access to their API. The Starter package is $10 per month and comes with a host of services such as an HTML video player, video gallery, 500GB streaming, 150 GB hosting, etc. For the Enterprise package, custom pricing is available on contacting them.
Ooyala is another very popular name in the video ads market. Some of their premium clients include HBO, Fox Sports, etc. They offer a next-generation video player called Player 4 with a robust interface that integrates with multiple platforms.
- They offer two types of video players: Ooyala Skin for iOS and Android, and Ooyala Player 4 for desktop.
- Like other video players, Ooyala has a customizable UX, thus making publishers’ job easier to customize, integrate, and implement the player on webpages.
- The player has plugins for supporting HLS, DASH, MP4, Live DVR.
- Some of the ad formats supported by the player include pre-, mid-, and post-roll, companion, clickthrough, overlay, skippable, podded, and others. The player also provides server-side ad insertion with Ooyala Pulse.
- Some of the ad integrations supported by Ooyala are FreeWheel, Google IMA SDK, VAST and VPAID Ad Plugin, Adobe Analytics, Google Analytics, comScore, Nielsen Analytics, and others.
For pricing, interested publishers can directly contact Ooyala support.
Video.js is an open-source HTML5 player that allows publishers to download, customize, and use it without paying any fees. Some of their prominent clients include the Guardian and Funny Or Die.
- Video.js supports all modern video streaming formats, primarily designed for HTML 5 video.
- It allows adaptive streaming which is video ad serving adjustment according to a user’s internet bandwidth. HLS and DASH are supported everywhere apart from iOS Safari.
- Video.js has the basic capabilities of the video player making it lightweight in nature because of it being open-source. However, community-build plugins can be enabled to customize it as per requirement.
Though we have listed the top five video players present in the market, there are a host of other options available such as Kaltura, DACast, and others. This can be confusing but the key lies in identifying what features publishers require and making a decision based on that. Some of the features that stand out are speed of ad delivery, plugin support, seamless tech support, customizable solutions, and provision of ad formats. In the end, publishers should always rely on good old ad testing to find the best video ad player.