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Video Ad Serving Technology — The Ins and Outs of Ad Servers

video ad serving BridTV

As of late, videos have been dominating the online advertising landscape. But should that really come as a surprise? After all, whether it’s for videos on social media or platforms like YouTube, the demand for video content has risen by 54% in the last few years. Naturally, that trend quickly transferred to the advertising industry, which soon gave birth to new video ad serving technologies. 

But why have video ads proven so lucrative? Well, they are more engaging than traditional advertisements. Also, they have a wider reach due to the already mentioned increase in video content consumption. To top that all off, according to the IAB Video Advertising Report, marketers have been investing more in video advertising over the past few years. That number rose by over $3 million between 2018 and 2019 alone!

So what is this revolutionary ad technology that many advertisers are utilizing? How does it enable you to get your video ads out there? Well, that’s what we’re here to find out!


What Is Ad Serving and How Does It Work?

In essence, ad serving is how an ad arrives on your phone, tablet, or desktop screen whenever you watch a video. That happens when an ad server sends the ad to the target website or application (in this case, video). But how does it do that?

The video ad serving process can indeed be complicated for many reasons. For example, one of them would be the number of AdTech platforms included in the mix. But we’ll try to keep it as simple as possible. Here are a few essential steps that take place in every video ad serving scenario:

  1. The user starts a video player on a site, which sends a request to the publisher for the video content in question. The server then sends a code to your browser that tells it where the video is located and how to display it on your screen. However, for that to be possible, the player must support VAST tags and HTML5 video.
  2. After receiving the content, the video player will request the retrieval of a video ad from the publisher’s ad server (send a VAST request). The publisher’s server will then determine programmatically which video ad to show and will send back an appropriate ad markup.
  3. Once the player receives an ad markup, it sends an ad retrieval request to the advertiser’s server. Following that, the advertiser’s server notes an impression and returns a link that lets the player display the appropriate ad. In most cases, a CDN (Content Delivery Network) will be in charge of distributing the ad, as it will most likely be hosted there.
  4. Finally, the player sends a request to the CDN, which will transport the ad back to it, showing it to the user.

Types of Ad Servers

Overall, there are two different kinds of ad servers — publisher and third-party ad servers. Publisher ad servers (aka local ad servers) only distribute ads to that publisher’s domain. However, publishers at times sign a contract with another, third-party for this service. In such a scenario, the publisher still retains plenty of control over the situations and context in which a specific ad would be displayed. However, the most glaring difference is that the third-party ad server can distribute the ads over multiple different domains. In other words, by using third-party video ad servers, publishers gain, in a way, a centralized control center. From it, they can serve ads all over the internet.

Publisher Ad Servers vs. Third-Party Ad Servers

There is no clear-cut reason one would be better than the other. In the end, it all depends on your needs and preferences as a business. If you’re purchasing ads only from a small number of sites, you’d likely be better off with the individual publishers serving them. On the other hand, if you have a much more ambitious advertising campaign and want detailed analytics and performance analyses on it, signing up with a third-party server is probably your best bet.

But regardless of the differences between the two, the rise of third-party servers made online marketers’ lives that much easier. Before that, brands and advertisers had to send their assets to these publishers directly — that was a painstakingly tedious process. The emergence of third-party ad servers made it easier for online advertisers to target their audience better, come across as more credible, and deliver their message seamlessly. 

What Role Does a Video Player Have in Ad Serving?

An essential one, of course! After all, a video player is, essentially, an interface between the ad and the user. In some way, you could say that it plays a central role in the whole process. For a player to display your ads, it has to communicate with both the page or device and ad servers. However, that wasn’t always possible since most OTT devices don’t speak the same language. 

Luckily for advertisers, the development of video ad serving technology brought with it VAST ad tags! In short, VAST is a universal video ad serving template that allows for easy synchronization between ad servers and video players. In a way, it is the reason all these online advertising innovations were made possible. If you’re interested in learning more about this, check out our follow-up article.

But how do you find the best video player for your video advertising needs? Well, if you’re looking for a free video player, check out our article on the best free video hosting services out there. However, if you ask us, if you want the best player for your advertising needs, you’d be better off with a premium one. And we have just the right solution for you…

Starting Your Online Video Advertising Campaign With BridTV

If you need a quick but effective video monetization solution, we at Brid.TV can help you out. Our state-of-the-art HTML5 player and CMS fully support both VAST and VPAID ad tags, as well as both outstream and instream ad types. And if you wish to monetize your content video having to deal with any hassle of looking for an advertising platform, check out our Brid.TV Marketplace — we can do all the hard work for you! And all of that is just scratching the surface — check out our site for more information on what we offer.

So if anything that we’ve just mentioned sounds appealing to you, we encourage you to give us a call! You can bring up any questions you might have, and our team will be more than happy to help.