Blog | Todd Porch, Vice President, International
May 21, 2015

The Challenges of Ad Insertion Across Multiple Channels

The methods of ad insertion vary depending on the channel, whether it be linear broadcast, on demand, or online. The expanded and varied reach between the channels and demographic-based advertising is beneficial to agencies and advertisers. However, having discrete and disparate platforms presents certain challenges for programmers and traffic managers.

An overview of the methods below illustrates the nuances and challenges of inserting ads into separate channels:

  • For linear broadcast, ads are delivered to an origination point or a broadcaster, where it is loaded into a play-to-air server. Master Control schedules the ad, where the ad is added to the rotation and inserted into commercial breaks based on the traffic instructions from the agency or advertiser.
  • Video on demand assets are captured with the original ad load baked into the asset, which contains Nielsen metadata for tracking purposes. These VOD assets are available in this state and only this state during the C3 period—the first three days after the asset was initially distributed, including the original airing.
  • On the fourth day (known as D4) - after the C3 period ends - the VOD asset is stripped of its ad load and markers are applied to the asset. Typically a programmer or network transcodes the asset according to the destination’s format requirements. Ads are then sent to the edge at the MVPD’s or MSO’s plants where distributors capable of Dynamic Ad Insertion (DAI) can insert ads into VOD assets dynamically. Decision engines linked to a campaign manager insert the ads into a VOD asset to fulfill the instructions and impression count the agency or advertiser purchased. For the carriers that cannot dynamically insert ads, D4 assets will have ads “baked in” and will be delivered as-is.
  • Online ad insertion operates in much the same way as VOD DAI, where ads are transcoded into the necessary format and held in ad servers within a content delivery network (CDN). A decision engine, in conjunction with a campaign manager, will insert ads in an online stream to fulfill the impression count purchased by the advertiser.

The most obvious hurdles are the separate channels into which ads must be placed for media buys that span multiple channels. Additionally, destinations within each channel require various file formats. This often requires agencies and advertisers to deliver the master high-resolution file or multiple formats to various vendors in order to distribute the ad over the appropriate avenues, and thus to the consumer. In addition to the administrative burden, the fragmentation in the workflow leads to file management issues and potential for mistakes or missed deliveries.

While multichannel advertising does present certain workflow challenges, advertisers still stand to gain more from a cross-channel ad campaign. As advertisers and agencies consider the details of a media buy, it is important to keep these channels and their unique advertising advantages in mind. Multichannel advertising provides several avenues that increase the life span of the ad and maximizes ad spend.

Much like the complexities of content distribution, navigating the advertising landscape requires careful consideration of not only the requirements of each channel, but also the growing number of devices on which consumers are viewing content. This demand adds additional support and workflows along the entire advertising supply chain, increases the time required to process and deliver the assets. Finding a solution that can handle the conversion and placement of these various ad formats can simplify the entire process, reduce costs and shorten an ad’s time to market.