JW Insights 2015 Experts Agree: Publishers Have Ineffective Approach to Mobile Video

Press Release newbreed


New York City’s premier online video technology event featured experts from Google, Verizon, SpotXchange and more

NEW YORK – May 29, 2015 – JW Player’s annual JW INSIGHTS conference on May 19 brought together experts from top video publishers and industry-leading technology companies to examine the exploding online video space. Panels and presentations at JW INSIGHTS, which is New York’s largest annual online video technology event, focused on a range of industry topics, including the challenges of mobile video, new video advertising standards and DRM technology.

“JW INSIGHTS 2015 represented an increase in both the scale and quality of our annual conference,” said Dave Otten, CEO and co-founder of JW Player. “Its growth mirrors our own success and status as a global leader in online video, as well as the evolution of the general market. Though the space is experiencing growing pains, especially on mobile, where publishers aren’t empowered to meet consumer demand for content, INSIGHTS allows us to explore issues like these with our partners and customers, in the aim of helping the entire industry understand what is needed to move forward.”

“Video has become a strategic priority for companies of every size, scale and focus,” said Chris Mahl, President, JW Player. “The discussions around data, effective and advanced monetization and the challenges of mobile at INSIGHTS define this, highlighting the shifting nature of video. As consumer preferences evolve and new technologies make online video increasingly effective for brands, the industry must drive toward a more open, connected model and embrace new best practices. INSIGHTS was a landmark for moving these conversations forward.”

JW INSIGHTS, which took place on the heels of the 2015 Digital Content NewFronts, Verizon’s announcement that it plans to acquire AOL, and a year which has generally seen online video grow exponentially, discussed subjects at the forefront of industry executives’ minds, including:

Misguided Mobile Video Strategies: Publishers Falling Short

In a feature panel titled “The Future of Video Technologies”, moderator Alex Kantrowitz (Ad Age) challenged participants to share analysis of shifting best practices around online video and predictions for the coming years.

Nearly every JW INSIGHTS speaker acknowledged that mobile is a primary challenge facing the video space. While mobile is “an area of incredible focus for all companies… it’s a huge problem (to tackle) because of the many different platforms and technologies involved,” explained Matt Frost, Head of Strategy and Partnerships, Chrome Media, at Google.

JW Player co-founder and original architect of the earliest widespread online video technology, Jeroen Wijering, further illustrated how mobile fragmentation was negatively affecting both consumers and publishers: “…no one “should need to have more than one app on their phone to watch video.”

While mobile is intended to provide publishers with increased access to audiences, fragmentation limits discovery, the quantity and quality of data available to better understand consumer preferences and, as Kantrowitz pointed out, video ad supply.

Tim Napoleon, Co-Founder and Chief Strategist of AllDigital, Inc., noted that another constraint for mobile video growth is one publishers put on themselves. “People want a Netflix-like mobile experience – but (an experience of that quality) cost Netflix $4 billion of R&D budget to get to,” said Napoleon. Publishers need to ignore the bells and whistles and focus on performance: “keep it simple and prioritize fast loading times.”

Content, Distribution and Monetization

Panelist Ted Middleton, Chief Product Officer at Verizon Digital Media Services, commented on his company’s planned acquisition of AOL, noting that matching quality content with strong distribution is a priority for Verizon. Focusing on content development and content management, Verizon aims “to help publishers deal with all these choices,” leveraging its infrastructure to optimize video for quality and audience discovery.

“Content is king,” commented Frost when asked to speculate on the strategy behind the acquisition. However, content is only effective when distributed effectively, optimized for high-quality consumer experiences and discovery. “You don’t want to sell baking soda – you want to sell cakes. You’re a lot better off owning your own content.”

Owning content helps to address the fragmentation problem, allowing for direct control and optimization of monetization and distribution, key factors to a successful video strategy. Frost went on to say that Google’s primary interest in the current state in online video is “growing the pie larger (for everyone)… if we make video more enticing on the web, we have a better ability to monetize…”

Mobile video presents its own distribution challenges, but publishers must optimize mobile channels for greater discovery and monetization; otherwise the investments brands are making to create quality content will not realize a strong ROI.

OTT: The Future of Video IS NOW

Unsurprisingly, participants had a range of opinions when it came to OTT and the shift from TV to online channels. While all agreed that OTT will significantly affect both consumer preference and brand strategy, they were divided when it came to the expected speed of OTT adoption and impact on the industry in the coming years.

Wijering offered perhaps the strongest prediction: “Linear TV is a newspaper… it will go away. Everything will be OTT.”

Frost also saw the potential for OTT to have a major impact in the near future, stating that “…next time the bid comes up for the Olympics, there’s no reason it couldn’t be YouTube or Facebook” to become the event’s official, digital-only broadcaster.

On the other hand, Verizon’s Middleton sees this as a “time of tremendous experimentation” with “a lot of evolution” but doesn’t predict the death of the linear experience. He did, however, expect current digital leaders like NetFlix to lose their advantage due to an explosion of access to content.