The Media Rating Council has released a draft of updated measurement best practices for OTT and connected TV video when server-side ad insertion (SSAI) techniques are used.
A final version will be released after a 30-day public comment period. The new guidance, along with relevant existing guidance in the IAB/MRC Digital Video Impression Measurement Guidelines, will be applied in MRC accreditation consideration going forward.
SSAI -- aka ad stitching -- is increasingly used in digital video ad serving, as well as OTT.
SSAI was developed to allow publishers to deliver digital content to a player so that video content and ads can be played without the need to create and tear down separate players for the ads. By enabling ad decisions to be made prior to the ad break, use of an SSAI server can create a more seamless viewing experience.
However, it also creates measurement challenges.
For instance, measurement events may be communicated to the measurement vendor by another server, rather than the actual client device, the MRC notes.
In addition, the player may not be able to process ad tracking, and the ad-stitching service cannot access cookies used in traditional client-side tracking.
As a result, the ad-stitching service must identify devices where ads play by using a combination of other methods, often requiring cooperation from entities responsible for delivering the video content or with control of the players where content and ads are delivered.
If the measurement vendor does not identify these events as SSAI, valid video impressions may appear to be invalid data center traffic. Conversely, invalid data center traffic can attempt to present itself as valid SSAI traffic by spoofing certain information common to SSAI traffic.
To develop the updated guidance, the MRC has been working since last July with members, affected MRC-accredited measurement services, and other industry stakeholders.
The draft guidelines update the MRC’s definitions of over-the-top and connected TV to better align with how the terms are being used in the marketplace.
CTV is now defined specifically as the delivery of digital video to televisions via internet-connected devices (or functionality within the television itself). OTT is now defined as including CTV as well as non-linear video content typically delivered to a TV screen but sometimes available via desktop or mobile devices (as with many video streaming services).
The guidelines also identify and encourage use of certain measurement-related best practices specific to SSAI, including: disclosure to measurers of IP ranges used by SSAI providers; establishment of formal processes to allow for technical certifications of SSAI providers; and use of SSL certificates between the SSAI provider and the ad server/measurer to authenticate the third-party data.
They also call for fuller industry collaboration to develop and use standardized terminologies and signal-sharing protocols in the near future, to allow for more complete and consistent measurement of video delivered in SSAI scenarios.
In addition, they highlight relevant existing guidance on issues of particular importance to OTT/CTV and SSAI, including impacts on measurement of latency, continuous play, “TV off” situations and the application of invalid traffic detection and filtration in these environments.
Comments are being taken through March 24, and can be submitted by email (firstname.lastname@example.org).