Digital Publishing Guest Columns
3 mins read

5 publisher video strategies for a successful Christmas shopping season

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Christmas is here, and publishers are in prime position to capitalize on the annual holiday surge in traffic and digital video viewership. An analysis of JW Player’s network of over 12,000 independent publishers, broadcasters and media companies found that, in the lead up to the holidays, seasonal shopping-themed video content has grown by over 291% YoY in the U.S. from 2020 to 2021. That is well beyond the YoY growth of the more generalized shopping category, which increased by just 19.8% in that same period. 

While the following strategies will serve publishers well any time of the year, this year’s extraordinary holiday-driven bump means there’s never been a better time to put these strategies into practice than now. 

Create Seasonal Content Targeted to Timely Holiday Segments

In 2021, nearly half of all digital video viewers are actively using advertising-based video-on-demand (AVOD) services, up from 44% in 2020. This represents a large, and still growing, opportunity for advertisers and publishers alike. And as the curtains close on the third-party cookie, advertisers are seeking out alternatives to ensure their ads are seen by the right audience. Of those alternatives, one of the most effective — and therefore widely embraced — has been contextual targeting. So, publishers should generate content targeted to seasonal holiday ad segments — among which Christmas and Halloween are the two most-watched by volume. Since 2020, Christmas-themed content has increased by 58% in the U.S. and by 80% globally!

Use Creative Video Thumbnails to Boost Views   

Rather than displaying a static image, video thumbnails display a 5-second video clip loop on mute when the player is visible. Compared to static images, video thumbnails increase overall views by 15%. What’s more, video thumbnails offer a more stylish and intuitive experience for users, who are able to preview the content before selecting. Publishers can also use video preview assets outside of their video player of choice to create interactive sites and applications to drive engagement. 

Make Content Sing with Managed Playlists & Dedicated Sections

Using playlists and themed content categories allows publishers to yield higher revenue per session, as viewers stay tuned in to see what’s next, or browse around the various thematic offerings. However, playlists should always be coherent, well-thought-out collections of content that work more like narratives than highlight reels. Content should flow naturally from preceding content to guide viewers through the playlist. With manual and dynamic playlists, publishers can create a viewing flow based on a specific series or type of content to keep users entertained, connected, and engaged; while dedicated content sections let users find relevant content more easily and explore within a given theme to extend viewing sessions. 

Use a Quality Recommendation Engine to Stoke Engagement 

One of the most powerful tools for increasing engagement is a finely-tuned recommendation engine. Of course, “finely-tuned” is a critical qualifier, as an inaccurate or poorly-performing recommendation engine can just as easily reduce engagement, by foisting unwanted suggestions on the viewer. With JW Player Recommendations, publishers get leading-edge functionality that’s simple. Publishers select the initial video and the JW Player algorithm will create a playlist of recommended videos based on viewing pages and semantic similarity. This extends the time users spend on a site while also giving viewers the ability to easily discover additional content that they’re likely interested in already.

Embed on High & Float on Scroll to Increase Holiday Content’s Viewability

One of the most common causes of low completion rates is auto-play video that’s embedded below the primary article, or that’s otherwise too far down the page. Publishers should make sure videos are visible above-the-fold whenever possible to avoid missing fast-moving holiday traffic. In a similar vein, something like the float-on-scroll feature would guarantee viewability rates of more than 75% on ads, wherein a player module “floats” and remains visible wherever users scroll on the page. As users skim through content this holiday season, ensure your content doesn’t go unseen. 

Discover more strategies for using video during the holiday season to optimize ad revenue in JW Player’s latest report, Video Best Practices for the 2021 Q4 Holiday Shopping Season.

Dave Otten
CEO and co-founder, JW Player

JW Player is the leading video software and data insights platform that gives customers independence and control in today’s Digital Video Economy. Started in 2008 as a hugely popular open-source video player, JW Player’s technology platform now powers digital video for hundreds of thousands of businesses, including half of the comScore top 50 sites in the US, leading broadcasters across EMEA, APAC and Latin America. The company is headquartered in New York, with offices in London and Eindhoven, visit