Software From ThePlatform Aims At Ad Blockers

A server-side ad solution might not sound too thrilling, but thePlatform, which does what its name says for big publishers thinks it has a way to stop ad blockers from messing up the works.

It has new software it says can thwart ad blockers, and if that’s true, it couldn’t come at a moment too soon.

There are stats out there that say nearly 28% of users have some sort of ad blocker installed, a percentage that has spiraled by nearly 70% in a year. Ads that are blocked, combined with all the other ads that aren’t seen because of viewability issues, makes for pretty bad business.

“We’re finding that our customers are discovering that 10% to 30% of their ad avail traffic is blocked,” says Marty Roberts, co-CEO of thePlatform. “Our goal was to make ad insertion more seamless and defeat some of the ad blockers that are out in the market today.”

In a blog on thePlatform’s Web site, Alan Ramaley, the chief technical office does a short history of how ads show up in content, and he does it with a minimum of CTO-like talk.



“When video started to jump online, the earliest approaches were. . .  server-side,” he writes. “In those days, we would use playlist formats . . .  to sequence ads and content on the server and play them back in rich desktop players. Then, around 2002, the tide started to shift away from desktop players and towards embedding video in Web pages. At the same time, client-side techniques for fetching banner ads got extended to fetching video ads, so that all ad units on a page could be synchronized.”

That’s when trouble started.

Now, server-side is making a comeback, mainly because of ad blockers. It’s kind of a war.

“It is absolutely an arms race but by moving some of logic away from the browser, from the client itself and back to the server you get to the point you really can’t block,” Roberts said in a phone interview. “We have a lot more control about where the ad experience is inserted into the stream and so we believe we have an advantage for preventing ad blockers. By moving the decision away from the client, which can be intercepted fairly easily, back to the server,  we’re in a much better position to control that ad experience.”

The new solution from thePlatform is being used, as of last week, by just a handful of clients but will roll out wider sooner, and the company, owned by Comcast--a client, along with 110 other, mainly bigger media companies including CBS -- is primarily selling its ease of use.

“In fact, turning on the the capability is literally checking one box in our system, “ Roberts says,  “and it starts working with all the content they have set up already.”

That’s another point, he says. Users don’t have to repackage their content. “Some of our customers have thousands or tens of thousands of videos, so that would be a pretty arduous approach. We’ve found a process where they can take the content they we can make this work for them,” Roberts says. And it works with ancillary content delivery networks some publishers user some of the time for some of their avails. It’s a pretty open system.

The proof is in the pudding, as finicky pudding critics are prone to say. But because millennials appear to be the biggest users of ad blocking technology, and because millennials are the demographic group advertisers are coming to the Internet to find, it would seem thePlatform is finding itself in the right place.

Still, fighting the ad blockers is, as Roberts says, a cat and mouse game, and that’s the way other executives must talk about it at times, too. Explaining the system in his blog, Ramaley notes, “We’ve been extremely diligent about making sure that ad blockers can’t find patterns in our URLs they can block on.”

Very cloak and dagger.
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