This article explains what is Google IMA, benefits of Outstream Players and ways to improve fill-rate. And how publishers can really maximize revenue by using everything in conjunction.
Online in general, and online advertising in particular, really love acronyms. Check this out “IMA supports a feature — VPAID Mode, related to VPAID JS creatives. You can run VPAID in a secure environment using an untrusted iframe and a video proxy object […]”
Now, sometimes, there is just no other way to explain things. Especially in a documentation that has to be adopted by various tech crews around the world. Or for products that are, ultimately, huge chunks of code which have to be sticked together with other pieces of code.
But, boy oh boy! do the acronyms keep piling to make things even harder to decipher. Each participant in the video industry with their own (IMA, SDK, DFP, IAB, VAST 2.0, VAPID 3.0, AFV/AFG, etc.). Mixed and matched together in the same sentence, generously offered in the technical documentation of every platform.
For a trained dev (in the video industry, mind you!) that sample sentence makes a lot of sense. And, it actually says something very smart. We should know, as it was written by one of our top programmers in a previous blog entry: https://varrando.com/varrando-google-ima-technical-analysis/
The goal of that post was to present the benefits of using Google IMA and how Varrando helps and improves on this integration. The end-result was an extremely good explanation for tech devs with video expertise. In all fairness, we did say it’s going to be a technical analysis. Which is great for publishers who have this kind of resources.
But what about those who are just getting started and have to make informed decisions? How are they to sail through all the caps-ed letters and their various combinations? Fear not, Varrando to the rescue! At least for the Outstream — IMA integration. See if we can break it down to a more earthly, fully worded approach, shall we?
- What is Google IMA or IMA SDK and why does it matter?
To answer it, more in depth than just explaining the acronyms, we have to take a step back and answer what is DFP. Is is defined as DoubleClick for Publishers, and its main attraction is the ad server utility. In a very simplified version, DFP is a pool of ads to choose from, to complete and mange publisher’s existing ad deals. DFP is one of the biggest on the market. And it can work with other networks as well. So, it’s useful for the more ads = more revenue mantra that all (online) publishers need.
So DFP is the ad server. As in, the “place” to go get ads for publisher’s content. It needs an account to get it up and running, much like any other ad serving platform.
What is Google IMA (SDK), then? Google Interactive Media Ads. Well, it is a piece of code, ultimately. SDK stands for Software Development Kit. An expensive and difficult to build piece of code. Developers refer to it as a “library”.
And, now, the connection between the two: this IMA library knows how to handle ads from the DFP server. As well as other servers around the world, so long as they respect an industry standard called VAST.
VAST stands for Video Ad Serving Template. Again, in a simplified explanations, is a set of rules to make ads run without errors. Hence the reference “VAST protocol”. As in, follow a specific protocol (rule set) to get to the final result (ad) without errors along the way.
Okey. So, it seems like the circle is complete, right? We have a “place” (DFP server) to get ads that respect a “set of rules” (VAST) through a complicated “piece of code” (IMA SDK) called a library. What more is there?
2. What is an Outstream Player and why does it matter?
Well, as good as it all sounds, there are publishers out there who want more. More flexibility, more options, more control over the way ads interact. So, they need an even smarter, more difficult to build, expensive piece of code to support Google IMA plus more.
Turns out there’s this new kid on the block that makes brands and ad agencies really buzz. It’s called an Outstream Player. And since an image makes for a 1000 words, here is a demo to see the goods for yourselves: https://varrando.com/outstream-player/
One of the huge benefits of Outstream ads is that they can be run against any type of content: video, editorial, games, photos, etc. Really good news for publishers. And a powerful incentive to go get themselves such a video technology.
Besides this, brands and advertisers are a lot more trusting when it comes to this type of video ad serving technology, due to a term called “viewability”. Which means explicit intent from the audience member towards the ad served. Hence a lot better metrics and ROI for the brands and ad agencies. Hence a lot more expensive CPMs for the publishers.
So wouldn’t it be great if IMA and Oustream players could work together?
Well, here is the good news. Varrando has, probably, the most advanced Outstream Player on the market. And, yes! Our Outstream player has Google IMA integration. Really good for the more ads = more revenue mantra.
Is there anything else we can add to the mix? It turns out, it is. See the next point of the article.
3. What are video players that power multiple fill-rate sources and why does it matter?
Remember how we said IMA knows to handle ads from others servers as well. Well, they do, but given they are under the same umbrella, they know how to handle DFP ads the best. Naturally, they are taking better care of their own. So, should a publisher have another favorite ad server or a network of ad partners, different from DFP, things get a little messier.
For instance, there is this thing named Ad Pod. Which, essentially is a way to set multiple ads to play back-to-back. Especially useful if publishers have ads from multiple sources. Publishers can set one Ad Pod from an ad partner followed by another Ad Pod from a different ad partner. Great for improving fill-rate (or more ads = more revenue mantra).
IMA supports ad pods only partially. They have some pretty important omissions. See our blog for more details.
IMA has limitations on mobiles as well. There are a lot of issues with volume management, especially when running VPAID (another industry standard) on mobile devices. Like: setting the volume might prevent the ad from ever running. Or: calling play/pause without a significant delay in between may prevent the ad from running.
And a few more just around play/pause on mobiles. They require more technical discussions, so we’ll skip them from now.
Varrando Outstream player has addressed these issues and more. It provides the best fill rate, user experience, and compatibility on the market.
So, to quickly conclude. Publishers can use IMA SDK + Varrando Outstream Player + Varrando broadest ad compatibility. So there you have it! Triple power in action!
Does it get any better? Yes, it does! Check out the last point of the article.
4. Can publishers still keep it simple?
Yes. Well, yes, as simple the industry allows. We are still using acronyms in our documentation and tech writings.
But! We also have code samples with most popular use-cases set as defaults to be only copy/pasted to get you started. Don’t worry, we also have excellent support, but we do try to make everything as smooth as possible wherever else we can.