The television advertising marketplace is undergoing a major shift as marketers seek to reach audiences who are watching more video on internet-connected devices. The digital transformation makes ad servers a fundamental part of the way video publishers help those marketers get seen by viewers.

“For publishers, ad serving is the foundation of a tech stack. It’s where you’re going to decide which ad is going to be delivered to a particular user,” Ben Antier, co-founder of Publica, the sell-side platform for connected TV advertising, said in this interview with Beet.TV. “In the CTV space, the ad server is one of the most critical blocks in the entire chain.”

Ad servers not only handle ad breaks, but they also play a role in audience targeting and processing programmatic placements from buy-side platforms, including specific deals on pods.

“Publishers first need to have great ownership and understanding of their ad-serving technology,” Antier said. “With this transition from cable TV to connected TV, we’re seeing the rebirth of a completely new medium that users are very used to going to.”

Programmatic Ads and Log Files

Automated auctions for ad space are well established in digital display advertising, and will make further headway into television with the growth of CTV. Video publishers that seek to maximize ad revenue can use header bidding, which alerts multiple ad exchanges about an availability for ad placement, in those programmatic auctions.

“Header bidding is really just another word for ‘unified auction.’ You define all your demand in one place, and ultimately letting the highest bidder win,” Antier said.

For marketers that are buying ads, header bidding can help to ensure they get placements they seek with video publishers.

“There’s also a very important buy-side element to header bidding, which is you’re getting access directly to inventory by dealing with the publishers, and then deciding what supply path makes the most sense,” Antier said. “It’s important that the unified auction provider is an independent source. You can’t be bidding and deciding who wins.”

Computer log files are an important resource for video publishers in understanding advertising activity and making it more transparent, Antier said.

“If you want to understand how your buyers are receiving those signals and how they influence their bidding strategies, you have to look at your logs,” he said. “You have to be able to understand very specifically: what am I sending, what exactly are people bidding on and what could I add to my auctions to get the most value out of my users?”

Guarding Against Ad Fraud

The growth in programmatic CTV advertising unfortunately has drawn interest from fraudsters that seek to generate fake viewing activity that’s costly to advertisers. Publica is working with non-profit consortium IAB Tech Lab on systems to authenticate CTV advertising with server-side tracking.

“If we all lean into server-side measurement and authentication, there are many ways we can guarantee a fraud-free ecosystem,” Antier said. “It’s about continuing to build this ecosystem where advertisers can feel very safe about investing in, and also making sure that we’re building the right measurement tools and attribution tools that make sure marketers are seeing the return on investment they need to see.”

You are watching “Making CTV Happen: A New Ad Infrastructure Emerges,” a Beet.TV leadership video series presented by Publica. For more videos, please visit this page.