Ads have been sold programmatically on the web for over a decade and real-time bidding is now knocking on TV’s door. If you need a quick refresher on what is programmatic and why it’s the future of tv, check out our previous article.

But television, and more specifically live tv, presents unique challenges that programmatic platforms are having to face.

How do you construct TV-like live ad break experiences programmatically?

To solve this challenge, we had to break the problem down into its components.

1 – Constructing the Ad Pod

Picture this: you are in your living room, with a dozen friends and family members, eating ridiculously good chilli, watching Superbowl LIV… The broadcast goes to an ad break and this is where it gets interesting for at least half of the room. Expectations are high but also simple: viewers expect to see the best ads, in high resolution and no weird technical glitch. Believe it or not, most digital advertising platforms cannot provide that experience which is why Publica built its own Pod Manager solution. In addition to running our advanced optimization algorithm to maximize revenue per second for the publisher, we go a step beyond to provide tv-level ad experience by:

  • Pre-selecting mediafiles to choose the highest quality available
  • Preventing the same ad from playing twice in a pod
  • Preventing ads from competing brands from playing in the same pod
  • Harmonizing sound across ads

2 – Minimizing auction Latency

Unlike traditional TV where live ad breaks are scheduled ahead of time, digital inventory is sold in real-time based who is watching, what they’re watching and in what context. In programmatic terms, a piece of ad inventory is put up for auction every time an opportunity arises. 

Publica’s auction timeout is set at 1 second. 

Within that second, we call over 10 different ad partners, select the winning bids, remove duplicate creatives and competing brands and return the ad pod to the stitcher. To successfully perform these operations every server-connection is optimized to the nearest millisecond.

When you don’t use Publica and the winning bid never delivers.

3- Handling traffic spikes

Live ad breaks imply that all of your users reach an ad opportunity at the same time. For infra people, that means trouble. This is especially true when connections need to remain open for a certain amount of time while servers are expecting other servers to respond. One server overheats in the chain and everything begins to timeout. 😱

That is why Publica built a QPS throttler. We keep a detailed map of the traffic loads that any third-party server can receive and make sure that we never cross that threshold. It may mean that a particular bidder will see less opportunities but it guarantees maximum delivery rates for both the publishers and the bidders. 🤓

Publica is able to deliver the best-in-class ad experience to connected TV users because (1) we have the capability to control the ads that run through our system, (2) we do so in 1 second, and (3) we do so at scale. 

If you’re facing challenges monetizing your live traffic on your OTT inventory, reach out to us! We will be happy to chat! 

👉Book some time here https://calendly.com/ben-antier/30min

Posted by:Clement Poty

Growth @Publica

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