LongTail Video, the brand behind JW Player has rebranded as….JW Player. The player, which is used to deliver video content across more than 2.5 million sites worldwide, including a number of Fortune 500 companies and media businesses, is widely recognized as the foremost video platform on the web. As part of the rebrand, JW Player will continue to focus on multiple products alongside the video player including mobile, advertising and video management. We caught up with Jeroen Wijering, founder of the company who talked to us about the reasons for the rebrand and the company's plan for the future.
ReelSEO: Hi Jeroen – so you've finally taken the plunge to rebrand from Longtail Video to JWPlayer.com. Was that a long decision making process and what prompted the shift?
Jeroen Wijering: Yes, we have been thinking about it for quite awhile. To be honest, one of the biggest holdups was simply acquiring the jwplayer.com domain. As you can imagine, we didn’t get it for free…From our perspective there were two reasons why we wanted to make this change:
First, JW Player has become synonymous with video player technology. It is a widely recognized and valuable brand in the online video marketplace. By changing our name and branding to JW Player, we closely associate our company name with the product that people know and love.
Second, the term ‘LongTail’ can sometimes be associated with niche content. To some folks, the name ‘LongTail’ implied that we serve only smaller-sized sites or sites with low-quality content The reality is that many of the largest organizations in the world use our products – over 20% of the Fortune 1000 companies have licensed JW Player – and this trend is continuing to grow. We want our company name to reflect who we are and what we do.
ReelSEO: I've been a fan of the player for years – you really have led the standard for the rest of the industry – and now you're offering HTTP Live Streaming Format (HLS) to multiple devices. Can you tell us about that?
Jeroen Wijering: We introduced HLS to the JW Player in the early part of this year. It has been a popular feature, particularly among our video producers and media broadcasters. In short, our unique solution is that we offer playback of HLS not only on mobile devices, but also on desktop computers. This allows publishers to stream content using just one format, bypassing the need for streaming servers that offer multiple formats.
Over the course of the year, we’ve extended our HLS support to support more advanced functionality like AES decryption, 608 captioning and DVR seeking. We’ve also ensured compatibility with encoding servers like Harmonic, Envivio & Viewcast, and services like Zencoder, Encoding.com and AWS.
ReelSEO: You are the world's most popular player. So can you determine key market verticals who are using your player the most and why they choose you instead of YouTube?
Jeroen Wijering: The JW Player is now active on about 2.5 million sites. Last month 700 million people generated over 6 billion views through the JW Player. Given the footprint of the player, our customers are incredibly diverse. While we do not have any one particular vertical that dominates, our top categories are media / entertainment, universities / governments and product marketing companies (e.g. companies using video to promote their goods and services to their clients)
Customers choose JW Player over YouTube primarily for flexibility and control reasons. For example, many publishers with which we work want to have full control over how their videos are monetized through advertising. They want to be able to dictate how their inventory is sold – whether it is through direct channels or through third party networks or exchanges. Using YouTube severely limits a publisher’s ability to control ad monetization. YouTube controls ad delivery and publishers at their mercy. With JW Player, all of that control is given to publishers. They determine what ad is delivered onto what piece of video inventory.
ReelSEO: Mobile viewing and responsive design are becoming more ubiquitous by the day – where does JWplayer offer advantages for delivery to portable devices?
Jeroen Wijering: We’ve put a lot of effort into ensuring all functionality of JW Player works across desktop and mobile. This is true for both the interface – custom controls, API support, playlists, responsive scaling – and the underlying functionality – VAST advertising, encrypted streaming, analytics integrations etc. A big advantage of JW Player is that we don’t have an underlying “mobile” and “desktop” view. All advanced functionality is available, without any caveats for publishers to take into account in areas like skinning or advertising support. This is especially important when JW Player is used as a platform on top of which the publishers adds functionality through our API or skinning model.
ReelSEO: We always like to offer our readers a best practice tip and although I know you will have so many to choose from your experience, if you had to choose just one what is it?
Jeroen Wijering: Hmm, let me think. Overall, I’d say mobile cannot be underestimated. As a video publisher, you should ensure your mobile video experience is as rich as your desktop one – no compromises. This includes responsive support, custom branding and full analytics and advertising capabilities. We see customers who, over the course of a year, have grown the share of their mobile audience from 10% to 50%. Even more so as on desktop, a great user experience matters on mobile. Also keep an eye on technologies like Airplay and Chromecast. As an online video publisher, you don’t yet “play” on TV. These casting APIs are making that happen, regardless of your budget or scale. It’s a beautiful model and much preferred over yet another set of walled gardens like the current string of “Smart TV” platforms.
ReelSEO: Final question: Your latest favorite online video?"
Jeroen Wijering: I must say I haven’t caught up in a while, so I’m still on Sharknado. I did see Shark Avalanche, but must say the original is still better…