3rd Party Adserving Technology – How does it work? – Section Preview

I am in the process of writing and publishing a book all about 3rd party ad serving. This exercise (due to the nature of the industry) has been going on for over 18 months and I wanted to post some of it online to establish demand for this text.

The Book itself will be self-published on Amazon and will available in Kindle and Hard copies. If you are interested in pre-ordering a copy, please leave a comment at the bottom of this post with your contact details. I will hide comments once posted for you privacy. Those interested in purchasing a copy will be alerted first of the publishing date.

My book Ad serving Technology. If you are interested in purchasing a copy please  post details in the comments of this post

My book Ad serving Technology. If you are interested in purchasing a copy please post details in the comments of this post

The book is entitled “Ad Serving Technology” Understand the marketing revelation that commercialism the internet and has been written my me directly (Gregory Cristal) with few references and little collaboration.I invite discussion on top of this post and will be posting a full index shortly to give you a better idea of what the book covers. I can assure you that is very thorough: i have been using it myself as a resource.

Chapter 1 – Part 3 – How does 3rd party Ad Serving work?

  • What goes on in the ad server?
  • What does the journey of the data look like?
  • The role of the CDN
  • Waiting around for Ad Delivery – the user experience

This section will touch lightly on the relationship between the user’s computer and the technologies sending packets of information to that user’s machine. This is useful to explain what is really going on beyond the familiar glare of your own PC and browser. The words and phrases contained in this section are commonly thrown around in technical conversations where an Advertising technology is involved.

Many other available texts describe how user’s machines and servers exchange information to load the various pages of the web. The focus for this section is to explain the exchanges that occur between machines to distribute, load and count ads right across the web. As a reminder the Third Party Ad Server has two core functions:

1) The function to serve or deliver the ads to the users machine

2) To count and track the delivery and performance of these ads

What goes on in the Adserver?

 cristalconsultancygroup com fig1.7

Figure 1.7 : Data in and out on-site at the ad server. This highly simplified diagram shows how the user request into the Ad server gateway gets split for the two functions. First the ad server counts using a counting module and in parallel makes a decision to serve the correct asset back to the user.

Figure 1.7 shows the fast function of the ad server to count and deliver an ad but the bold arrows on the left only show data coming into and going out of the ad server. The internet infrastructure that will carry this data to this point undergoes a longer journey. Before we undertake this journey we need to make sure we are using the right language to describe the various ports of call and processes that the data undergoes.

Definition
Local Machine The user’s computer or device to access the web
Remote Machine The server that the user’s computer is exchanging data with
Host Server Another name for remote machine, the server is “hosting” the users request for content or ads
Packet Data is transmitted between machines in packets. Utilising the best server route between the local and remote machine. Sometimes packets get lost and this can have a minor impact on the counting of ads served.
Router To connect to the ISP the user’s machine must utilise a local switch or router. Again, all data comes through here.
ISP Internet Service Provider; the user’s access point to the web, all data packets come and go through the ISP
CDN Content Delivery Network; Ad servers themselves do not distribute replicas of the files all over the world. They work with CDNs to achieve this.
Data Center Data Centers are the physcial buildings that house ad servers and servers of the CDN. As the user’s browser makes a call directly to the ad server to request an ad, the ad server must deliver the information back and count the request as soon as possible. Having strategically located buildings in global hubs and highly populated cities ensures a faster delivery.
Server Farm A non-technical term to describe a data center or group of data centers
Ad Request The initial loading of the ad tag on a publisher page sends an HTTP request for to display the correct ad to the ad server. This is called an Ad Request.
Javascript Response The ad server responds to the ad request with a response; this is response predominantly occurs in Javascript.
Impression Tracker All ads contain Impression Tracker code which sends data as an “ad request” to the counting module or “ad counter” at the ad server
Impression When an ad counter receives and responds to an HTTP request for a tracking asset from a client (IAB.net Guidelines)
Click Tracker When the user initates a click, this code routes data to the “ad counter” at the ad server to count a “click”
Ad Call Another name for Ad Request
Ad Play A industry wide desputed meaning, not backed by the IAB.
Ad Close When a Javascript served ad is closed or the browser leaves the page, the Ad can make a final request to the server

Before we look at the bigger picture it is important to note that the physical delivery of the ad is not the same as an industry agreed count of the impression metric (which can be found here: http://www.iab.net/media/file/Global_meas_guidelines.pdf ). However as  this definition has certified industry adoption, it is taken as to the true measure of delivered ads across all ad counting systems.

What does the journey of the data look like?

 cristalconsultancygroup com fig1.8

Figure 1.8 : User requests channel up to the ad server’s data center where counting and ad serving decisions are made. As multiple requests are being made by multiple users for the same assets, the ad server decision module does not need to distribute the same ad every time but rather lets the CDN distribute the ad.

The role of the CDN

The Content Delivery Network (or CDN), like the tracks of all the flight paths in the world, join up the dots between the worlds cities and the ISPs (internet service providers) routing replicated information into the homes of users. Ads stored in the ad server need to be replicated in the ad server data centers, prepared for the most strategic delivery of the assets (a delay called “Ad replication”) and a process that occurs when the campaign is being “trafficked” (more on trafficking in Chapter 3). When an ad call is received the ad server transmits the ads to the CDN’s. Akamai, described by some as the internet’s backbone, is one of the largest CDN’s and ad servers utilise its services consistently. Larger Publishers like MSN, rely on Microsoft’s own technology rather than outsource to systems like Akamai. The MSN CDN has the capacity to allow other internet technologies requiring CDN distribution to utilise it for such needs.

Waiting around for Ad Delivery – the user experience

So what is the affect on the user? Is it glaringly obvious that the most miniscule of delays actually has a shed-load of processes behind it? For the most part the answer is no but with so many processes in place, once in a blue moon, the user will be stuck on a page where an ad fails to load. The purpose of the ad servers reporting capability is to show a consistent ad delivery and performance which the Agency or Advertiser will reference frequently if only to check that there is nothing clogging up the pipes (more details in Chapter 5 – Reporting). Providing there are no problems the optimum user experience will look like this:

Pre-ad display

  • User arrives at publisher page
  • Ad request is sent to publisher ad server
  • Publisher content loads
  • Publisher ad server calls 3rd party ad server
  • Request arrives at the local data center depending on the users location
  • The counting module counts an impression
  • The decision module selects the most suitable ad
  • The ad server sends a Javascript to initiate the loading of the ad
  • The javascript loads on the publisher page and loads in all the necessary assets
  • The assets are pulled in from the CDN which pulls in data from the ad server creative database
  • Image appears in user’s browser

During ad display

  • Rich Media constantly reports “interactions” to the counting module (See Chapter 3 – Rich Media).
  • The ad server counts an “Ad Play” – which is an Instream Metric (See Chapter 3 – Instream)
  • Piggybacked 3rd party impression trackers load (See Chapter 3 – Standard Display)
  • Viewability begins counting (See Chapter 5 – Ad Verification)

On Ad Close

  • Viewability ends counting and sends data to the ad server counting module (See Chapter 5 – Ad Verification)
  • Rich Media interactions that utilise a timer are reported to the ad server counting module (See Chapter 3 – Rich Media)

Hopefully we have exposed a mini cosmos of the work that the ad server is doing and the technical part of your brain is ready for a rest . Thank goodness that as users, the work is all done by machines in far away places. Let’s now turn our attention back to the online advertising industry and look at who the players in this space, and how many people and hands does it take to launch an online advertising campaign and make the most of ad serving technology?

 

 

 

This is one of the early sections of the book which is over 70 sections in total covering every topic related to 3rd party (advertiser) ad serving.

The book is entitled “Ad Serving Technology” Understand the marketing revelation that commercialism the internet, and has been written my me directly (Gregory Cristal) with few references and little collaboration. I invite discussion on top of this post and will be posting a full index shortly to give you a better idea of what the book covers. I can assure you that is very thorough: i have been using it myself as a resource. The whole test reflect my own training across multiple employers and does not reflect the view of my current employer.

The Book itself will be self-published on Amazon and will available in Kindle and Hard copies. If you are interested in pre-ordering a copy, please leave a comment at the bottom of this post with your contact details. I will hide comments once posted for you privacy. Those interested in purchasing a copy will be alerted first of the publishing date.

One Response to “3rd Party Adserving Technology – How does it work? – Section Preview”

  1. Kazem Jahanbakhsh

    May 06. 2015

    Hi Gregory,

    I have been reading your “Ad Serving Technology” book as a reference and found it very useful to get a better understanding of the ad tech space.

    I was reading “The Second Highest Bid Auction” section from Chapter 8 (Programmatic) of the book (page 545) where I found that there is a technical issue in your description for the second price auction running by ad exchanges.

    Based on my understanding from game theory (second price auction) and ad tech space, when DSPs send their bid values to an ad exchange for a given inventory, the bidder with the highest bid value will win the auction. However, the winner has to pay as much as the second highest bid value plus one cent.

    The main reason behind running the second price auction as opposed to say the first price auction is that one can prove in the second price auction the bidders dominant strategy is to submit their truth value for the inventory which in return optimize the inventory value in the market.

    I found there is a small mistake in your book where you said that “in the second price auction the second highest bidder wins the auction”. So, I thought it would be helpful if I send you this correction.

    Please let me know if you have any questions.

    regards
    Kazem Jahanbakhsh, PhD
    AI Optify Co-Founder

    Reply to this comment

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