Server side Ad Insertion and Ad Blockers

As much as 200 million users and $22 billion revenue is lost due to ad blockers[1].

The obvious answer to this problem is “Server side ad insertion” which is becoming a de facto standard for in-stream video ads. Every video streaming protocol has a well-defined way of inserting ads from the server end, and it works across all popular internet-connected devices. But, there’s a catch. These are ad asset insertion methods but advertisers still want ad tracking from user’s end device on which the ad is actually shown. So, even if publishers are able to bypass the ad-blockers for showing ‘stitched’ ads, they cannot track the ad-insertions because the ad-blockers block the tracking calls and hence loose out on ad-revenue.

One approach to resolving this is defined by IAB as part of VAST 4.0, but the standard is still in infancy and not many advertisers have started supporting it yet.

However, AdSparx has devised an ingenious way of circumventing the above challenge posed by the ad-blockers by intelligently combining “server-side ad insertion” with the “client side SDK”. This also retains the advantages of both server and client side approaches and disadvantages of neither. The combination has served our customers well and helped them achieve expected revenues. Of course, AdSparx makes sure that the experience of ad insertion for the user is smooth and non-intrusive.

If you would like to know more, please reach us at sales@adsparx.com or call us at +1-408-329-7425

Why you cannot miss out on DAI

DAI_illustration

The Need for DAI

We introduced server side Dynamic Ad Insertion (DAI) platform two years ago. The concept has gained popularity in the recent years primarily due to the need to address streaming to an array of fragmented devices. The value prop is simple. In the world of fragmented devices, having the ad stitched with content on server side retains all complexity on the server side without the publisher having to worry about each handset model or myriad platforms like Roku, Amazon Fire, connected TVs etc on the market. The exponential rise of ad blockers has further solidified the argument in favor of server side DAI.

At the forefront of DAI

In its most advanced state, AdSparx with its patent pending technologies supports dynamic frame accurate ad-insertion for all the multi-bitrate adaptive protocols – with the existing HTTP Live Streaming, Smooth Streaming to the latest MPEG-DASH with support for Widevine, FairPlay and PlayReady encryptions for both live streams and VOD assets.

AdSparx detects TV commercials and seamlessly replaces it with a new ad. We found early on that a lot of broadcasting companies we were talking to didn’t use the SCTE 35 cue markers to indicate TV commercials. In the absence of SCTE35 markers, we introduced automated video analysis algorithms to detect start and stop of TV commercials.

Problems with old way of inserting ads

Earliest video ad insertion platforms started off with client side ad-insertion techniques. In such a scenario, one call is made for an ad and then another to fetch content. This results in spinning wheels or delays while loading the ad or content thereby leading to dropped users.

Enter server side DAI. This consists of a single call to the adserver – the ad is stitched to the content in real time on the server side and then streamed to the user. This right away takes care of spinning wheels giving seamless TV-like playback experience. Since there is just one hit, this solves the ad blocker issue (see, Ad blocking report 2015) as well. If a user tries to block ad request, he will end up blocking the content too

Road ahead for DAI

Instead of showing the same set of TV commercials to all the viewers, OTT publishers can use DAI to show personalized ads targeted at specific group of users since the publishers have accurate idea of user demographics, user device type, type of content being viewed, time of the day content is watched and location of the user. Since the ad insertion is done post streaming, theoretically every user can be shown a different ad (provided the ad networks have different ads for every user). DAI allows publisher to deliver the right spot to the right person at that time. So the unit of sale then become impression. DAI then allows that impression to be monetized at the best possible rate thereby unlocking value of online media.

A DAI system like that of AdSparx detects the TV commercials and seamlessly replaces it with a new ad. We found early on that lot of broadcasting companies we were talking to didn’t use the SCTE 35 cue markers to indicate TV commercials. In the absence of SCTE35 markers, we introduced automated video analysis algorithms to detect start and stop of TV commercials.

AdSparx with its patent pending (some of them granted!) technologies supports dynamic frame accurate ad-insertion for all the multi-bitrate adaptive protocols – with the existing HTTP Live Streaming, Smooth Streaming to the latest MPEG-DASH for both live channels and on-demand Videos.

As the industry evolves towards DAI, IAB has announced VAST 4.0. VAST 4.0 introduces new capabilities for server-side support, including “ad stitching,” allowing to deliver stitched ads to video players with limited capacities.

It’s never been a better time for DAI!