Server-Side Ad Insertion – a technology you want now


Tim Armstrong,
Senior Product Owner, Switch Media

It’s not hard to get lost in an industry where there is a plethora of acronyms, technologies and big words.  We’ve come to expect so much more from technology than what we see executed. A tangle of controversy on transparency, measurement, rigid technologies and a spinning world where some businesses slowly but surely race each other to the bottom.

What we do know for certain is that the activity in the media industry is growing cadence.  Users are, and will always be, the center of what we do when it comes to advertising, although at the same time it is crucial that we generate revenues.

Another acronym for the glossary is SSAI. Server-Side Ad Insertion is still a relatively new and emerging concept and/or technology for most. In the simplest form, it is a solution to a growing Media Owner and/or Broadcaster challenge.  Server-Side Ad Insertion may be something you’ve rarely heard of, but something that solves a bunch of the complex challenges businesses may face on a day to day basis.

Let’s not over promise, that’s a sure way to damage the perceived and actual value of a piece of technology like this.  Breaking it down, Media and Broadcast businesses have a core objective of delivering quality content to users via the best experience possible and have an important conflict to manage.  This conflict is how to provide the best and most consistent user experience with their content whilst at the same time maximising revenue.

Server-Side Ad Insertion allows you to provide a continuous TV like content stream with advertising stitched into it. No more switching between content and ads, creating a clunky or buffered transition.  It allows you to make calls server side, as well as defeat ad-blockers with a continuous stream that makes ads undetectable.

When considering a Server-Side Ad Insertion technology for your current video delivery and monetisation workflow you need to consider the impact on all parts of your business.

Your business performance will ultimately be graded on the volume of revenue it generates and then the level of profit.  If you are going to make a change in technology you need to understand the capital investment, ongoing operational investment, opportunity cost and the potential revenue that exists, not to mention the future features that will be available to you.  For several businesses, there will be significant ongoing costs associated to the acquisition and licensing of content, those costs need to be covered and additional revenue generated to support a profit.

There will be cases where businesses believe that they are performing well, coinciding with an organically growing market or product.  These instances require background research and analysis to critically look at the success you are seeing versus the potential opportunities.   The industry can at times become somewhat oblivious to the revenue opportunities, not being capitalised on due to an already visible rate of growth.

Server-Side ad insertion enables consistency of advertising across all platforms. Right now, you have a growing collection of consumption channels you support; desktop, tablet, IOS, Android, CTV, PS4.  A change in the way you serve advertising in your content needs to be consistent across those, by using Server-Side Ad Insertion technology, this can be achieved easily.

What role does data play in this?  Data plays a key role from several angles, it helps to understand what is working, what isn’t working, what people are watching, for how long, and so on.  Using Server-Side Ad Insertion, the capture of data is crucial to understanding audiences, supporting personalisation and monetisation.  That data can be used to make decisions relating to improvement of user experience and can be coupled with advertising opportunities to drive advertising sales and prove ROI.

Lastly, how does Server-Side Ad Insertion impact your technology strategy? Your technology strategy should be focused around deriving the best value from your assets and content.  Technology decisions require a multi-angled look at business and workflow dependencies, which consider connection points and collaboration.  Remember do not change your business to suit a technology, the idea of an RFP is to work with vendors to ensure that their solution compliments what your business needs to achieve from that technology, however do be open to education.

For any business that hasn’t thought about Server-Side Ad Insertion for video or radio, there is no better time than now to look at how this could improve your business.  Be bold, brave but diligent in your approach. There is no doubt that using Server-Side Ad Technology will help further the engagement you have with your users, as well as maximise your advertising revenue.