Someone has to push for standards, and that’s what the Streaming Video Alliance (SVA) is for. This week, the SVA issued a document offering best practices to improve quality of service for video ads on over-the-top platforms. Created by member companies in the SVA’s Advertising Working Group, the paper offers a variety of tips for OTT providers looking to add ad support to their platforms.
The paper’s suggestions span the entire workflow, from content acquisition to post-campaign metrics. Some of the advice falls into the common sense range, but it’s still a good reminder. Original source formats should be of the highest image and audio quality before starting the transcode workflow, because viewers will get a bad impression from a blurry ad. Garbage in, garbage out, it cautions. And while ads come in a variety of lengths, think about where longer ads appear. If viewers get two-minute pre-rolls, they’re more likely to tune out.
For content ingestion, the paper offers specific advice on formats and quality levels. It also offers a detailed look at the server-side ad stitching workflow using VAST. When transcoding, always use adaptive bitrate (ABR), which offers viewers the highest quality stream their connection can manage. It recommends small chunk sizes for ABR ad streams, but not under two seconds.
“The best practice that will probably impact video ad delivery the most is ABR,” says SVA Executive Director Jason Thibeault. “This will require modifications to encoding workflows and processes to ensure that not only are the appropriate bitrates encoded and available, but that they are synchronized with the bitrates of the host content. Not many video distributors that deliver ads within their content may feel the need to encode more than one version because they don’t see the ad as an intrinsic part of the video experience.”
For ad hosting, the paper says using a content delivery network (CDN) is essential. It also cautions about common problems that can occur when pulling a third-party ad host into the workflow.
Viewer delays often occur when an ad simply won’t load in a timely manner, so the paper recommends video players contain a failsafe. Build in a circuit breaker so play fails don’t tarnish the main viewing experience.
The paper includes a table of video ad metrics that OTT providers need to watch, including buffing, resolution, and ad fails.
In its conclusion, the Streaming Video Alliance notes that “there is no single unified standard” for online video ad measurement, as there is with TV, and recommends the OTT world develops something similar.
For more recommendations, download the full document for free (no registration required).