Solutions To Track Ads Through The Supply Chain

The digital ecosystem is fragmented and broken and will worsen as technology grows if changes are not made. The silos we, in digital, are so used to cannot continue. We need to work with the rest of the industry to ensure interoperability across the supply chain.

Reporting and reconciling between a third-party ad server (TPAS) and a publisher side ad server has remained nonexistent.

This is because there has never been an effective way to track numerous display ads in one tag and, with the introduction of programmatic display advertising, there has been no way to follow an ad through the distribution workflow.

However, there are solutions available to the industry today that can enable the ability to track ads through the supply chain. These solutions aren’t complex, but they are effective. The addition of a unique identifier on creative assets could have a major impact on running successful campaigns without companies needing to overhaul their workflow.  



The introduction of the UniversalAdId element in VAST 4 makes it possible to track video and audio ads through the supply chain, this does not apply to display ads. While the digital advertising supply chain is probably a few years away from the creation and acceptance of a display ad template, there is every reason to work toward using a single unique identifier across the entire digital ecosystem, unifying the supply chain.

TPAS are the perfect place to introduce a unique identifier since it is where advertisers and their agencies upload the actual creative. A field where you enter an Ad-ID code could be added to the TPAS platforms. This would help prevent the use of arbitrary and random identifiers that can wreak havoc within the supply chain. Not only would a field specific for an Ad-ID code allow TPAS to confirm the Ad-ID code is valid, but it would also ensure the following:

  • The ad that has been uploaded is the correct creative asset
  • Advertisers and agencies can follow the ad throughout its life cycle, whether it is direct sold or programmatic
  • The publisher is running the correct ad against the correct amount of impressions
  • Programmatic ads can be tracked through the advertiser’s Demand Side Platform

On the publisher side of the supply chain, a field for Ad-ID already exists in some ad servers. However, the field is not built-into the supply chain, so the Ad-ID does not stay with the ad asset throughout its lifecycle. Including the Ad-ID code throughout an ad's lifecycle is important because it allows publishers to do the following:

  • Check that the correct ads has been trafficked in the line item
  • Have a competitive exclusion based on the Ad-ID code and associated metadata
  • Ensure proper creatives are running through the Server Side Platform
  • Provides the ability to identify and remove “bad ads.”

The simple addition of using a unique identifier within the display workflow will help the entire digital supply chain. Display advertising is broken, and Ad-ID can be part of the solution. 

To all the display community, the time to change is now. The benefits of this type of change far outweigh the costs of remaining the same.

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