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Maximizing CTV Transparency and Efficiency With Your Ad Server

Chris Signore, Head of Revenue - AdServing

October 18, 2023 | 4 min read

Over the last few years, as streaming video platforms rapidly flourished, so too have challenges around quality control and transparency. These challenges are exemplified by a recent Adalytics report into brand safety concerns on YouTube, as well as a report from ANA that underscored transparency issues across the programmatic supply chain. This has spurred CTV media owners to provide buyers with content-level transparency to know where their ads are run, with ad servers playing a critical role. Here are some key questions to consider when appraising video ad servers’ ability to provide transparent and quality ad experiences.

What controls should I look for in a video ad server?

An ad server should deliver control across ad creatives and placements, adhere to quality standards, and provide reporting to show where ads appeared and how they performed.

In addition to tools that gauge the quality and relevancy of the ad content, SpringServe offers targeting safeguards that help sellers achieve competitive separation, avoid ad repetition, and help ensure that ads are seen in brand safe, high-impact environments.

How can ad servers see if an ad is viewable?

Ad servers collaborate with verification partners, who work specifically to confirm ad views. SpringServe has several verification partner integrations to help publishers to provide inventory insights and to refine their inventory based on buyer needs like viewability.

For instance, although not done by default, with the media owner’s agreement we can highlight to their selected buyers that the buyer’s ad was shown during a specific show, on a specific platform. The buyer can then leverage such data to refine their ads for the most fitting context, driving campaign performance and revenue.

Ad servers should also provide reach and frequency reporting to enable media owners to determine how many unique impressions are seeing ads within the server. At SpringServe, for instance, metrics such as advertiser domain reporting are delivered in real-time and are easy to customize.

How can an ad server help optimize the ad and user experience?

Ad servers allow media owners to manage decisioning for the ad slots available. Ad servers are responsible for determining when and where to show an ad based on a range of targeting parameters that impact the overall user experience. Research shows that ad overexposure hurts streaming platforms as much as it does brands. According to Magna, ad overexposure erodes purchase intent — there’s a 16% decline in purchase intent among viewers who watch an ad six times. Here, frequency capping is necessary to improve the end-user experience.

To offset ad repetition, SpringServe developed a global frequency cap — in which a frequency cap pixel can be applied to other ad servers beyond SpringServe, so the creative is capped holistically across the entire ad stack.

How are ads safeguarded to run against suitable content and audiences?

Ad servers can establish protective measures to prevent ads from appearing next to content that promotes sensitive subjects such as gambling, drugs, and political themes. Media owners also have the ability to set restrictions to prevent targeting of ads to certain age ranges so that content is suitable for intended age groups.

Furthermore, with SpringServe, media owners can permit specific IAB categories and implement exclusion measures, like advertiser domain blocks. For example, when a publisher airs a Diet Coke advertisement, they can block the Pepsi domain to achieve competitive separation.

What role do ad servers play in preventing ad fraud or poor-quality ads? 

Ad servers should provide automated tools to analyze ads’ related metadata to pinpoint factors like volume, image clarity, and even language to enhance efficacy. SpringServe’s tools allow publishers to see the full provenance of ad creative – and see every vendor who has touched the creative or modified it along the way. SpringServe’s BingeWatcher streamlines the creative review workflow by providing a fully automated, easily scalable, and highly flexible technological alternative to manual review to detect bad quality content, driving greater efficiencies.

SpringServe was purpose-built to help ensure the integrity of ads bought and sold through our platform. So we built features to achieve this, including fully transparent marketplace transactions, Ads.txt & Ads.cert compliance, third-party verification tools, pre-bid invalid traffic filtering, and post-impression detection.

Ultimately, the ad server is an oft-overlooked ally in the quest for more transparent media. To drive positive brand affinity, publishers must be able to deliver superior ad experiences in a clean, well-lit, brand-safe environment. To achieve this, ad servers play a pivotal role– and can be engaged in greater ways with the right questions to improve ad quality and impact.

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