Ad podding
Ad podding is when a group of ads are played back-to-back within a single ad break. Ad pods are used by OTT platforms that provide long-form VOD content.

What is ad podding?

Ad pods refer to multiple ads that are sequenced together and shown back-to-back during a single ad break. Ad podding allows publishers to combine multiple ads and serve them in a single ad request, which not only boosts ad revenue but also ensures that the same ad isn’t repeated within a user’s viewing session. 

Ad podding originates from commercial breaks in linear TV and is widely used today in the over-the-top (OTT) space to deliver ads. It is particularly useful in long-form video on demand (VOD) content that can be divided into segments to keep the viewers engaged. 

How does ad podding work?

Let’s say that you were streaming Aladdin on Hulu, and 20 minutes into the movie, it cuts to an ad break where you end up watching three ads back-to-back. This is ad podding, and the movie resumes immediately after the ads are done playing. 

While it sounds pretty simple, ad podding goes through a multi-step process to accurately deliver ads to users.

  1. OTT platforms and publishers can customize ad pod specifications by controlling features like where to place each pod, how many ads to include in each pod, and how long they are.
  2. Once these parameters are defined, publishers use a video content management system (video CMS) to assign ad tags unique to each ad and identify the open slots. These tags can be inserted through SSAI (server-side ad insertion) or CSAI (client-side ad insertion). 
  3. Each ad tag is assigned a sequence number. 
  4. When a video is streamed, the video player determines which ads to serve for each tag based on the sequence number. 
  5. Every tag that successfully finds an ad that fits the predefined parameters will be served. (ex. If a 30-second ad slot is matched with a 50-second ad, the ad won’t be served)
  6. If there are tags that remain empty or unplayed because there is no match, the player will automatically move on to the next tag in the pod to find other matches. 

Ad pods are served in pre-roll, mid-roll, and post-roll slots. Pre-roll pods are shown at the very beginning before the VOD content plays, while mid-rolls are inserted in between video content, and post-rolls come after the entire video is viewed. For each slot, publishers can designate the format, length, and quantity of ads based on the VOD content served. 

Benefits of ad podding 

Increase ad fill rate + revenue for publishers

Ad podding is highly beneficial for maximizing ad fill rates. For instance, if a publisher received 200 ad requests but only have 100 open individual ad slots, they would only be able to fulfill half of the requests. Instead, if publishers incorporate ad podding, they would be able to serve all 200 ads by sequencing two ads in each pod. 

Publishers are also able to set price levels for each ad slot and maximize profits by raising prices for high-demand slots. Ultimately, these opportunities provide a significant boost in their revenue. 

More control of ad delivery 

With ad podding, there are various customization features that allow publishers to arrange their ad slots in the most optimal manner. Doing so, they can better cater to the needs of their target audience and keep them engaged throughout the entire streaming process. 

Furthermore, ad pod operating systems ensure that duplicate ads are never served within a single ad break. This is especially beneficial for advertisers as they do not have to waste impressions and ensure that their campaigns are delivered under the most optimal procedures. 

Improve user experience 

By tweaking all of these parameters to align with the users’ preferences, ad podding can enhance the overall user experience. By dividing up long-form content into multiple sequences and offering breaks, publishers can make sure that users aren’t drained from streaming. Each ad break is also designed to play at the right time within the most optimal duration so that the user’s experience isn’t interrupted.

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