A Deep Dive On Its Impact On Advertising

Programmatic digital video is expected to account for over $74B in ad spend by the end of 2023, making it a significant part of most digital marketing campaigns. At its foundation is the Video Ad Serving Template (VAST) protocol.

VAST is an XML document containing crucial information and resources necessary for playing a specific video ad, but how much do you know about how it works?

Programmatic digital video ad spending is projected to hit $74B by the end of 2023

Source: eMarketer, April 2023

How VAST Works

At its core, a VAST document includes multiple URLs for various purposes. When a video player requests an ad from an ad server, it receives a VAST document, which it then parses to initiate the ad playback process.

The video player follows a series of steps after receiving the VAST document in order to track various video events by calling the corresponding URLs at the appropriate moments.

What Happens When There’s A Problem?

If the video player encounters issues during the ad playback, such as failure to load the video or unsupported file types, it utilizes the error URL.

The video player calls the error the error URL and replaces the error code macro within the URL with the specific error code corresponding to the encountered issue.

These errors have significant implications for all parties involved in the video advertising ecosystem.

Let’s consider a scenario where a user is eagerly waiting to watch a video of their favorite influencer but encounters a black screen with a loading wheel due to an error in the ad playback before the video starts. As a result, the publisher loses the opportunity to generate revenue and the ad server or SSP misses out on revenue share for the ad.

Although the user avoids watching an ad, the experience of encountering a loading error prior to the video is not satisfactory.

The average video error rate is 12%

Source: Equativ, May 2023

How Equativ Can Help

In the highly competitive space of SSPs, maintaining a low error rate is crucial to ensure efficient delivery and revenue generation. We have introduced the video creative autoblock feature as part of our video creative review interface.

This feature allows users to set an error blockage as soon as an error is detected, and any video creatives exceeding this threshold are automatically blocked from delivery.

To tackle video errors effectively, it’s essential to monitor error statistics and identify integration issues on the publisher and buyer sides. Our reporting tools provide valuable insights into video errors, allowing users to analyze error rates and identify specific causes. By leveraging these tools, publishers can isolate the occurrence of errors based on various dimensions like site, domain, app, partner, seat, or insertion.

Our analytics team has developed a comprehensive dashboard that organizes VAST data from programmatic demand partners. This dashboard helps analyze VAST documents and correlate video errors with specific VAST documents internally, enabling efficient troubleshooting. Additionally, the VAST parser provides access to VAST documents from programmatic partners, facilitating further investigation into specific errors and their underlying causes.

-7% error rate with our newest video creative autoblock version

Source: Equativ, Q2 2023

Leveraging The Dashboard Results

One success story really demonstrates the power of proactive troubleshooting. Through our reporting tool’s analysis, a partner was identified as the source of a large volume of video errors. Further investigation revealed that URL spoofing was causing errors in their VPAID implementation. By collaborating with the partner’s technical team and analyzing bid request URLs, the supply team uncovered the issue’s root cause and implemented an exception to bypass the error on our SSP.

Low error rates ensure efficient delivery, resulting in a better user experience and increased revenue generation for publishers. Understanding VAST and the options for proactively troubleshooting helps identify issues in advance to keep things running smoothly on both the supply and demand sides.

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