How are Video Ads Served?

Video Advertising Fundamentals

Video Advertising Fundamentals: How Are Video Ads Served?
January 20, 2020 MadMarTech

Storytelling has been the crux of marketing for centuries as it captures the user’s attention and keeps them engaged if done right. Video advertising budget has been on the rise for the past few years and it is no surprise that Youtube has added back-to-back ads to match demand to supply. Based on the IAB video advertising spend report, the brands have a 25% increase in video budget YOY with a video advertising revenue shooting up to 15 billion.

Before deep-diving into the concepts, it is crucial to understand how video advertising works. This helps you to understand how the piece fits in the ecosystem which has a cascading effect on a better understanding of analyzing and optimizing your video campaigns. Let’s get started.

If you are buying in-stream ads on Youtube or out-stream ads on a publisher’s site, the process is the same. Before answering the ‘how’ part, we need to get basics right:

What is VAST?

The complexity of video advertising has increased with multiple devices, formats, environment, internet speed etc. VAST was created by IAB to address this issue and streamline the process by providing one protocol that could be used across multiple ad servers. VAST abbreviated as a ‘video ad serving template’ is a tag or a piece of code that tells the ad server how the video ads need to be served. It gives the ad server the information about which ad to play, the length of the video, skip options, and tracking methodologies.

What is VPAID?

Engagement being one of the primary KPIs for many brands, video is no longer just a motion picture. It is interactive with a lot of elements including clicks, drag or any other movements. This is when the VPAID comes into the picture. VPAID is abbreviated as Video Player Ad Interface Definition helps to integrate different interactive elements into the video and also provides a standard protocol to measure it. This tag is integrated within the video player and it a platform-independent API compatible with the ad servers

Time for another acronym, What’s an MRAID?

Mobile is more complicated in terms of implementation as compared to desktop/tablet. With myriad app environments and operating systems, it is not possible to scale without a standard protocol. MRAID abbreviated as Mobile Rich Media Ad Interface Definition was created by IAB to serve videos compatible with different ad servers. Having specifically designed for the mobile and in-app environment, to provide the best user experience and a scalable solution.

What’s VMAP?

Video Multiple Ad Playlist also called as VMAP which is part of IAB V-suite provides the publisher’s more control over ad breaks. Too many ads as you agree may be annoying to the user thereby resulting in poor user experience. To address this problem, VMAP helps publisher to assign the number of ad breaks and the point at which the ad should appear within the content. This is especially helpful for a long length video.

Now that you know the basics, let us start with the process of video ad serving.

Video Adserving Process How are video ads served

Most of the ads are traded programmatically in a real-time bidding auction. The process is usually the same and may vary slightly depending on the format. Here is what happens:

Step1: The publisher/media owner sends a request to the ad exchange that there is an ad slot available along with the cookie data/user data

Step 2: The ad exchange communicates this info to DSP

Step 3: DSP checks with the line items if the user matches the targeting criteria set in the line item.

Step 4: If there is a match, the advertiser places the bid via DSP.

Step 5: Other advertisers bid for the impression and the winning bid is announced by the ad exchange.

Step 6: The publisher sends the ad markup to the winning bid advertiser.

Step 7: The video tag (VAST and or VPAID) is pushed to the publisher’s ad server.

Step 8: The video ad is played to the user and all the interaction data is passed to the advertiser’s ad server (For example DCM)

Although it is wrapped up in an 8 step process, there is a lot more complexity is involved. Now that you know the basics, stay tuned for the next post about the video ad format and placement overview.
However, if you would like to know how the winner of the auction is decided, read the detailed guide on header bidding.