In 2012, the IAB released VAST 3.0 and introduced the concept of ad pods, outlining specs for delivering a set of sequential ads. At first, adoption was slow, but as the programmatic backbone for desktop and OTT/CTV video continued to evolve, podding became increasingly important for publishers and media owners to deliver a high-quality user experience on long-form content.
In this post, we’ll dive a little deeper into what podding is and how it can help publishers drive fill and monetization.
What is podding?
In a nutshell, podding provides publishers the ability to return multiple ads from a single ad request. Those ads are then played in sequence, similar to a linear TV commercial break.
Why is podding important?
Podding is important for a number of reasons:
- Pods are a better way to monetize long-form content to maximize efficiency and fill. Podding is a more efficient means of filling an extended ad break that offers a familiar user experience. A single call that fills multiple ad slots means fewer ad calls between various platforms easing latency and infrastructural loads. Additionally, since ad pods inherently play multiple ads, they also typically see higher fill rates.
- Pods offer more control to publishers. A common problem publishers face when monetizing multiple ad slots without a podding solution in place is ad duplication, i.e., the same ad playing multiple times within a single commercial break. Without podding, an individual request is sent for each ad within the break. These requests typically occur in a vacuum such that each ad returned is unaware of the other ads it’s running next to. As a result, these ads could be the same or competing ads. Calling for impressions as a pod provides a mechanism to organize and separate those ads.
- Pods create satisfied advertisers. Building on the previous example, in non-podding scenarios, when a buyer receives three ad calls they have no way of knowing whether those requests will be played back to back. As a result, they may bid and win each impression opportunity, leading to serving the same ad three times.
Mature podding solutions not only deduplicate ads, preventing the same advertiser from running multiple ads, but also competitively separate ads from the same category. This minimizes ad fatigue from viewers and helps publishers manage advertiser relations by preventing competing brands from running in the same pod.
- Pods enable a better user experience. In addition to minimizing ad fatigue due to de-duplication, since ad pods mimic the traditional linear TV commercial delivery format, the user experience is familiar for viewers.
Key components of a podding solution
Simply calling three ads at once is nice, but doesn’t really confer the benefits mentioned above. At a minimum, to truly reap the benefits of podding your technology partner should be able to provide the following features:
- Tight controls over ad delivery such as:
- Maximum pod duration
- Maximum duration per individual ad
- Minimum duration per individual ad
- Maximum number of ads
- Tight controls over ad content such as:
- Automatic ad deduplication
- Competitive separation
When to use podding
The two most common scenarios for podding are for long-form content like VOD and live. On-demand long-form content is typically a much simpler implementation than live due to its comparative flexibility. These streams have looser rules around when ads need to play and, typically, only one user’s experience needs to be managed. As a result, it’s easy for publishers to define when ads need to occur, set up rules for how long the breaks are and reap the benefits.
Live is a different animal. For one, live is inherently more complex. Commercial breaks do not necessarily have predictable timing or duration, and if for whatever reason the pod doesn’t fill, a fallback option like a house ad or, at minimum, a static slate is required. Further, livestreams commonly lean on SSAI solutions to sew ads directly into the stream, which also requires partners to support those providers as well.
In short, podding is a powerful tactic that drives high fill and additional monetization. It’s growing in adoption, and we believe that it will become a crucial piece of any video supply-side platform and modern ad server. While it may not be the right solution for every publisher, we certainly believe that any publisher looking to more effectively monetize long-form or live content explore implementing a podding solution.
To learn more about podding and what SpotX can do for you, reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
This article was written by Albert Wang, product marketing manager at SpotX.