Selecting an ad management platform in today’s rapidly evolving video technology space is a complicated process. You may know that an ad server has traditionally had two primary functions: serving ad creative and measuring & tracking ad delivery. The evolution of video ad serving, however, has had quite a different trajectory. Many of the fundamental concepts of ad serving were refined first in the display model and then implemented in video, which has put video on a faster innovation track. Also, RTB has firmly established itself as an important transaction mechanism, and publishers are now pushing the envelope even further by exploring programmatic access to their premium inventory.
Here are some things to look for as you kick the tires on a new video ad management system.
1. Revenue-aware yield management: With more and more media being bought and sold in real time, publishers are now looking for opportunities to measure and maximize yield. An ad server must be "revenue aware" to really understand the value of every single ad opportunity and optimize across all available demand sources. A system that allows for such real-time yield optimization capabilities is critical for publishers trying to balance directly sold advertiser campaigns along with non-guaranteed demand from ad networks, DSPs and exchanges..
2. Live environments: Nowhere is the difference in traditional display ad serving and online video ad serving more compelling that in its application in a “live” environment -- think Super Bowl, the World Series and so on. Online video now promises to bring together a lean-back TV-like experience with the power of ad targeting down to the individual. Fulfilling this promise in a live online video stream is not without its challenges. The ad server has to manage the concurrent load of picking the perfect ad for each user and serve it up at the exact same moment! To get a sense of scale, CBS had 3 million viewers for the Super Bowl XLVII live stream, and this was just the second time the Super Bowl was simulcast on the Internet.
3. Efficient ad decisioning: One distinct advantage that video advertising has over display is the ability to run software on the page. Video ad servers have capitalized on this by allowing publishers to configure multi-layered logic for ad selection based on user information (like location and gender), price and audience data. A video ad server also allows for complex integration with several brand safety and third-party data providers that guarantees buyers the ability to remain contextually relevant in delivering the right message to their target audience. Ad servers now not only measure video ad consumption metrics (like completion rates, quartile viewed, close or skip rate) and user interaction metrics (like muting, viewing in full screen mode) but now use this information to allow advertisers to better understand their audience’s propensity towards the ad and optimize the ad creative dynamically.
However, all these bells & whistles come at a price. The downside to having heavy software running on a page is the latency the user experiences while waiting for an ad to play (also known in technical circles as the spinning wheel of death). The best enterprise grade video ad servers keep latency to a minimum and maximize revenue performance by employing tactics like concurrent calls and native third party integrations, to deliver the most efficient ad-decisioning mechanism.
With the online video market growing at a rapid pace, only vendors specifically focused on building publisher ad technology platforms will ultimately be able to keep up with the iterative refinement needed for these product attributes. Picking a video expert with a strong service culture will allow you to mold a video ad management system to execute a strong video ad strategy.