The ad server configuration is a set of rules that our ads-enabled servers use to inject programmatic adverts onto the live stream. It dictates the triggers required to make the call to the ad server, the streams that these rules apply to and the behaviour that should occur when the trigger cues are received.
Whether you are setting up your stream with us for monetisation for the first time, or want to review your setup to see if any optimisations can be made, this article will help you make sense of the wide range of options available in the stream configuration.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- Max number of ads / max break length
- Fallback options (if a break cannot be filled)
- Optimise your configuration for mobile
- Maximum buffer (for ad insertion)
Max number of ads / max break length
These parameters exist in the ad server configuration to indicate to the ad server how many ads to insert into any one break window. It's important that the maximum number of ads set is proportionate to the maximum break length. If the maximum number of ads is too high, the ad server runs the risk of timing out when trying to source the ads required. Too low, and your break has more chance of going unfilled.
The maximum break length can be fixed or it can be configured to change variably depending on the trigger you send. For instance, the configuration may be set up to look for the start trigger "AD_START_XX" where XX is the break length in seconds.
If opting for a fixed break length, this should be the value of the longest break you plan on replacing. If you are set up for insertion behaviour on midrolls, this will be the same length for all breaks (unless a break cannot be filled - See Fallback Options (If Break Cannot be Filled) for more information).
If you want to check the maximum length of your breaks or switch to variable break lengths, contact our support team.
Fallback options (if a break cannot be filled)
Sometimes, in periods of lower demand from advertisers, your replacement ad windows may not receive enough ads from the ad server to fill up. Ensure your configuration is geared up to handle this and maximise impressions by creating a contingency plan.
Let's say you are requesting a replacement break of 90 seconds but the ad server can only retrieve 1 ad of 30 seconds at that time. There are 4 ways you can set up your configuration to handle this.
- Skip break entirely: no programmatic ads will be inserted (default)
This has a good listener experience as the filler ads will play out but will impact revenue as no ad impressions will be marked.
- Inject the 1 available ad using insertion behaviour (as opposed to replacement)
This still retains a good listener experience as the filler break will play in full.
- Inject the 1 available ad using replacement behaviour
This has the worst listener experience of all the available options as there is a high risk of clashing once the programmatic ad has elapsed, but it has the benefit of not moving listeners away from the real-time stream
- Use a "fallback on nearest metadata" rule to drop listeners back in at an appropriate time (recommended)
This requires some manual work in the playout system to set up but allows the best compromise between ensuring the ad is played out. It does not affect the listener experience and retains the listener's place relative to real-time playout. The ad will be inserted but the session will pick up at the nearest metadata update within the ad window.
For more information on how to set up "fallback on nearest metadata", see our help article here.
Optimise your configuration for mobile
Mobile devices are increasingly being used to stream audio content, so make sure your stream is optimised for mobile devices. Sometimes mobile data users can briefly lose connection while travelling between cell towers and will then reconnect to the stream, triggering an unexpected preroll. This can cause a frustrating listener experience and could damage long-term audiences.
To set a limit on how often pre-rolls are served to a particular IP, contact our Support team.
Maximum buffer (for ad insertion)
If you are utilising insertion behaviour for your ad breaks, your listeners may be pushed out of sync with real-time as their individual sessions go on and they receive more ads.
Setting a buffer size will determine the maximum duration a listener can go out of sync in relation to real-time. The ad tech will try to catch listeners back up to real-time playout as the session continues by stripping the silence it detects in the stream.
The longer the buffer length, the more ads a listener can receive in their session. However, this could cause them to fall further out of sync with real-time, which may be undesirable depending on the nature of your programming. Primary considerations here are around time-based calls to action, such as during a competition.