The first digital advertisement appeared on HotWired.com in 1994, giving rise to an industry that would come to shape the user experience and economics of the internet as we know it today. Interestingly, in the early days of digital advertising, the novelty alone seemed sufficient to generate engagement from consumers. For instance, it’s widely believed that the first banner ad for AT&T earned a 44% click-through rate:
However, as the shine wore off and click rates diminished, it quickly became clear that online advertising was going to be a tougher nut to crack. Advertisers and media owners began to experiment with different placements and ad creatives, including the earliest digital video advertisements in the early 2000s. As video advertising became more prevalent, the need arose for an ad server that could handle the heavier creative and make use of the various technological advances that have been made along the way. With this in mind, this blog post will outline the features of a modern video ad server and describe why they’re indispensable to advertisers and media owners today.
Cross-Screen Ad Serving
Over the last several years, emerging technology has driven significant shifts in the way people experience video content. For instance, in the United States, it’s now estimated that more than half of the total time spent watching video is on mobile devices, something that wouldn’t have been technologically feasible in earlier years. Consumers today expect content which was once confined to their desktops or living rooms to be available on-the-go on the device of their choice. Media owners need a monetization strategy that can support their cross-screen presence and be optimized to suit the different environments where their content appears. A true modern video ad server accounts for audiences everywhere and gives media owners the tools they need to connect with them across desktops, smartphones, tablets and connected TV devices.
Holistic Inventory Management
Digital media owners who rely on ad revenue to support their content need to be able to optimize the way they sell. Holistic Inventory Management is a necessary component of a modern ad server, allowing media owners to administer all available ad inventory across devices while also effectively leveraging a multitude of transaction models. In addition, it’s important for media owners to balance their revenue needs with the user experience on their sites. By centralizing demand sources, a modern ad server makes it possible for media owners to leverage parallel ad decisioning, meaning that all bids are evaluated simultaneously rather than on a one-by-one “waterfalling” basis. This greatly reduces latency, helping to preserve a smooth, seamless user experience.
Furthermore, some media owners may choose to exercise specific control over the ad creatives that are served on their site, so modern video ad servers provide a creative review feature that allows media owners to approve or reject ad creatives if they so choose.
Transparent Reporting & Insights
Whether you’re on the buy side or the sell side of the digital advertising equation, it’s important to have tools available that allow you to make intelligent decisions. The modern video ad server gives advertisers visibility into every impression served so they understand exactly what they’re buying and have the ability to optimize campaigns in real time. Equally, media owners who use video ads to monetize their digital content need insight into how those ads perform so they can maximize yield and preserve the user experience.
We’ve certainly learned a lot since 1994, and modern ad servers make intelligent use of the technology and best practices we’ve developed along the way. In keeping with this, the final component of a modern ad server is that it must be designed to incorporate continuing innovation. At SpotX, we’ve spent the last ten years building our modern video ad serving platform—stay tuned as we continue our evolution and check out our additional ad serving resources:
- Unpacking the Ad Tech Ecosystem
- What is Dynamic Ad Insertion?
- Everything you need to know about video header bidding
Erin Smith – Marketing Coordinator