Examining the Digital Video Ad Stack Complexities Causing Breakage

Digital Video Ad Stack Complexities Causing Breakage

Unraveling the complexities of the immense and crowded digital video advertising ecosystem can be as frustrating and difficult as untying a particularly stubborn knot. With so much complexity, it is hard to know where to begin, and more often than not, you are left more confused and more frustrated than when you started.

In the digital video ad stack, there are Advertisers, Demand Side Platforms (DSPs), Exchanges, Supply Side Platforms (SSPs), Publishers, AdTech partners, Verification and Measurement partners, and still even more vendors. On average, marketers have 28 different technologies in their ad stack, according to findings from a study by Industry Index commissioned by MadHive and AdLedger

But why is it so complicated?

The end goal of the digital video ad stack is clear – get the right advertisement delivered to the right consumer at the right time using the best partners and best technology. While this may sound simple, the process by which digital video ad stacks are delivered is extremely complex. 

The sad truth is that high levels of video delivery “breakage” are accepted across the industry as status quo. This breakage, defined as a time when an advertiser has an opportunity to show an ad but the ad never plays due to a variety of technical issues, costs advertisers opportunities and costs publishers revenue.

At the same time, AdTech buyers are overwhelmed by the pressure to enhance their ad stack with the newest, shiniest technology while simultaneously struggling to deal with the poor performance from their existing technology. 

Konduit.me’s technology tackles these big challenges, while gleaning a unique perspective of the digital video advertising ecosystem. Able to observe, monitor, and quantify the entire digital video ad stack, Konduit focuses on minimizing the key complexities of the video ad stack that lead to breakage.

The main offenders Konduit has found to cause breakage in the video ad stack are …

  1. 1. Numerous and fragmented partners
  2. 2. Latency and Poor Connectivity
  3. 3. Compatibility issues across browsers, operating systems, and players

These three seemingly simple issues account for millions in lost revenue due to breakage. Breakage that can be avoided.

Numerous and fragmented partners

If you’ve taken a look at the latest Video Landscape report from Luma, you know that the number of players in the video ad stack are numerous. The sheer number of players in the game lead to a messy ad stack and creates plenty of opportunities for breakage. 

During a typical ad call, it is not as simple as a player calling an ad server, calling a SSP, calling an exchange, calling a DSP, and calling an advertiser’s ad server like this:

Player > Ad Server > SSP > Exchange < DSP < Advertiser

It’s way more complex than that with multiple calls back and forth from SSPs to SSP auctions to multiple DSPS and verification partners.

If you were to map all of the requests for a given publisher and the requests’ journeys through the ad stack in a given day, it would look like this:

video ad stack ad call

In this sankey depiction of real traffic, you can see how messy and interwoven the journey of a request is and see the numerous opportunities for errors that exist. The interoperability of these different parts of the ad stack are critical, as each of these different hops and exchanges present an opportunity for breakage to occur.

The easy solution may seem to be to consolidate or to reduce the number of technologies you have in your ad stack. However, the technologies that make managing your ad stack complex are the same technologies that drive revenue.

The Industry Index study highlights that while marketers and publishers removed an average of 3.3 technologies from their ad stack in 2018, this same group also plans to add 8.5 new technologies in the next year with AI based tools, data management platforms, campaign management tools, and verification tools being the focus.

The issue is not having too much tech, but not having enough of the right tech.

AdTech vendors like Konduit are working to reduce the complexity of the ad stack and to provide actionable insights that enable AdTech buyers to make better decisions. 

Konduit’s advanced analytics suite provides in-depth analysis of the ad stack and the ability to pinpoint breakage points. This actionable data allows publishers to actively identify where breakage is coming from in the ad stack and will be key for publishers moving forward.

Latency and Poor Connectivity

The second key issue that causes high levels of breakage in the industry is latency and poor connectivity. Each of the hops between the ad server and another partner in the chain present an opportunity for latency to occur. When the average player will cut you off after 20 seconds if it does not receive a response, this can be a serious issue.

Konduit has observed that in a typical ad call an average of about 15 additional calls are made back and forth between different services, and these multiple back and forths slow things down significantly. Just like exhaustion from running slows you down, all of these back and forths can take a toll. 

It is also important to remember that all of these calls also need to happen inside of a browser on the publisher’s page. If there are multiple ads or players on the page making multiple ad calls, poor connectivity can slow the process down even further. It can make the ad call process take longer or break it all together. This is a big challenge for mobile traffic as these devices typically have worse connectivity.

To combat these issues, Konduit takes these critical calls server side and off the publisher’s page. Using industrial grade connectivity, Konduit’s services use smart caching and advanced algorithms to combate latency that results from the numerous hops.

Compatibility issues across browsers, operating systems, and players

Once you get beyond the numerous hops, fragmented ecosystem, and the pesky latency and poor connectivity problems, the issue of compatibility remains. 

This is essentially the actual technology behind the tag that allows the ad to play properly and to send out needed signals needs to be compatible with all players, browsers, operating systems, creative types, and screens. 

Managing the interplay of these components is exceedingly complex. 

Breakage often occurs because of one small issue in the interplay between these different parts. With the number of players and browsers, as well as the number of creative types, there are thousands of combinations that need to work, and all of these different parts are constantly being updated and changed.

In other words, it is not just about supporting all creatives types such as inline ads and ad pods in VAST 2.0, VAST 3.0, VAST 4.0, and VAST 4.1. You need to support all versions of all browsers across Desktop (Windows and MAC), Mobile (iOS and Android), and OTT (all devices) even as updates are made.

One small change to a browser could cause widespread compatibility issues and breakage. Thus, having tools to identify and troubleshoot these causes of breakage is extremely important.

As video experts who have spent an immense amount of time learning about the video advertising ecosystem and building out a solution compatible with all of these different combinations, Konduit’s team is able to investigate and drill down the sources of compatibility issues reducing breakage and errors that would normally result.

Don’t get knotted up.

The digital video advertising ecosystem is not going to change overnight. Instead of being overwhelmed by all of the challenges ahead, it is important to focus on the areas where progress can be made. 

Targeting breakage is an important first step to tackling the complex challenges that come along with serving digital video ads. By focusing in on this key challenge, you are able to improve outcomes whether your a publisher, a technology platform, or an advertiser.

For questions about the video ad stack or to see how we could work together, email our Chief Revenue Office Anita Pollert anita@konduit.me or visit our website konduit.me.

About Konduit.me: Konduit provides easy to implement software solutions and analytics that improve video advertising performance across platforms. By reducing load times and failed ad starts, Konduit improves fill rate and increases publisher revenue across all devices, including OTT.