The most widespread way of delivering video ads today is according to the Video Ad Serving Templates (VAST) protocol. Developed by the IAB TechLab, the VAST protocol is used to structure content so that video players on a web page can read and extract the right piece of information needed to play the video ad.
But as ad tech moves on, this type of ad delivery will start to be joined by newer approaches such as video ad streaming that does not rely on video players being integrated directly into the web pages.
Perhaps the easiest way to explain this technological advance is to compare it with the shift away from music downloading (eg. iTunes) towards music streaming (eg. Spotify or other similar streaming services).
Downloading music took time, and you could only listen to the song once the file had almost completed downloading. When you stream music, however, you can listen to the track almost immediately, with the added bonus of it not taking up a whole load of storage space on your device. In this way, you could say video ad streaming is the Spotify of adtech.
So how does video ad streaming work?
In simple terms, video ad streaming works by delivering smaller bits of information – or ‘packets’ of data – to the ad display banner on the consumer’s device, compared to one big file as a download.
Each packet of data contains a few seconds of video, lined up behind each other on the server ready to display. The first data packet contains the manifest file (metadata for the accompanying files), which identifies the type of network connection (available bandwidth), device and browser. This in turn helps to establish the highest-quality video files the data packets can use to stream the video (ie. the bitrate) for smooth playback. This type of streaming is known as ‘adaptive bitrate streaming’.
This manifest file also contains the video player, weighing just a few kilobytes, whereas regular ad video players weigh a few hundred kilobytes and need to be embedded in the webpage for an ad to play. Having this lightweight video player embedded in the delivery makes ad serving much more versatile, as ads can be served anywhere, on any site, at a high quality.
How does video ad streaming help deliver better Return on Ad Spend (ROAS)?
Typically, most, if not all, of a publisher’s video revenue comes via a third-party demand partner who leverages the VAST protocol to deliver video advertising onto a publisher’s media property.
When delivering video ads using streaming, we see almost every metric increase, and the main reason for this is speed. Since the ad starts much sooner at high quality, publishers start to see higher click-through rates, conversions, and brand recall from the outset – all of which significantly drive the advertiser’s ROAS on the publisher’s property.
Whereas publishers will often see initial IO (Insertion Order) value decrease as agencies optimise against performance throughout a campaign; a streamed campaign will continue to deliver strongly and shore against this type of reduction on media plans.
Many publishers have in-housed streaming – and when combined with media placements, first-party data, and the ability to optimise media performance metrics – are able to take a video-direct offer to market.
Video ad streaming also helps drive ROAS for their advertising partners because it is channel- and format-agnostic, as long as an ad server is present. Being format-agnostic means a video ad can be placed almost anywhere - the creative just needs to be built to match the destination format.
With streaming, display advertising enjoys a utility not previously experienced: all media placements now become video placements as well as static placements, and the publisher is able to remodel page- and user-yield, with the benefit of far higher video CPMs.
Reducing carbon footprint with adaptive streaming
The internet contributes to at least 2% of global pollution, which is just as much, if not more, than the aviation industry.
A big factor in this is the amount of data being transferred for each ad impression. When taking programmatic advertising into consideration, there are billions of ads served on mobile devices alone on a daily basis. All of this data adds up and consumes energy, resulting in high CO2 emissions.
Adaptive video streaming, on the other hand, is smart about if, what, and when ad data should be sent. This reduces data wastage significantly and avoids unnecessary carbon emissions compared to traditional video ad delivery, all while helping to speed up the internet.
Of course, there are other tips and tricks available to improve ROAS available to publishers. But as technology moves on at such a rapid pace, and sustainability comes to the fore, publishers will start to recognise the increasing role adaptive streaming will play in their overall ad revenue strategy.
Since 2017, SeenThis has been evolving screen experiences for everyone, everywhere. With our ground breaking adaptive streaming technology, SeenThis is transforming the distribution and climate impact of digital content compared to traditional technology. With billions of streams served for 1000+ brands in 40+ countries, the company is on a journey to reshape the internet — for good. Working across seven offices globally, SeenThis employees are obsessed with creating a truly high-speed and energy-efficient Internet.