Publisher Certification for third party adserved Instream ads

Publisher Certification for Third party adserved Instream ads

In Instream ad delivery, the video player environment on the Publisher site that renders the ad tag is not standardised, not everyone is using the same kind of player technology. Therefore each Publisher site  needs to be certified to ensure that third party served instream ads are fully functional in terms of delivery, verification and reporting.

Efforts have been put in place by the IAB and other interested parties to standardise the delivery of Instream ads industry wide with limited success, a claim of usage of the VAST standard by a Publisher is no guarantee the practice is being undertaken. Unfortunately due to the sheer volume of video player technologies in use, even the third party ad server has extended processes around running video campaigns and media plans must be checked. If new sites and new video players appear on the scene, testing and certification are sensible undertakings.

These processes are common place when a channel is in its infancy (and the mobile channel requires similar certification to ensure that the third party ad server tracking will work. The key is to test ad tags so that there is no discrepancy between ad server and Publisher reporting before the campaign goes live. This way Publishers can optimize ad delivery so that there is no over or under delivery with almost identical reporting as the third party ad server (where the Advertiser or Agency will be monitoring the delivery independently).

The certification process is actually very straight forward and with responsive parties, the process need not take more than a few days. Having said this, in practice, up to three weeks is recommended between the announcement of a new video Publisher on the media plan and the completion of the long term certification of that Publisher.


  • Third party ad serving providers have a Publisher certification team in place who, once alerted to the presence of a new site on a plan, make contact with the Publisher verbally and send over test tags in an email to the Publisher contact.
  • The Publisher takes these test tags and loads them up onto the Publisher-side ad server, displaying the resulting ads in a test environment.
  • The location of the test environment is supplied to the third party ad server certifications team who run some tests to check that the metrics are collecting correctly and that the ad server calls are all taking place at the right time.
  • When both Publisher and ad server satisfied with the metrics they are seeing the Publisher is labelled as certified and the Advertiser can go ahead to run activity on this Publisher in this channel.
  • Certification usually means that any Advertiser from that point forwards can skip this process to run video on the Publisher site in the tested player.


Figure 3.5.8 Certification for Instream remains a requirement in digital advertising. The certification team at the third party ad serving provider sends test tags to the Publisher direct or the network for the site operations team to implement the test tags in the correct player environment. The preview of this implementation is sent back to the Certification team who assess the preview, awarding certification if the preview passes various tests.

Certifications can be lengthy processes, especially when the certification reveals discrepancies and errors. For this reason it is recommended for the media planner to supply the list of sites and publishers for the video channel to the third party ad serving provider long before the campaign live date. Owing to the last minute building of media plans, Media Agencies can sometimes find themselves in trouble trying to push video to uncertified sites. It is therefore very important to be aware of the full scope of the certification process for Instream before ever buying the video ad space.

Publisher certification as a process is nothing new. Rich Media was also once an infant channel and used to follow the same process. Eventually all the established publishers and players supporting video certified in full and although re-certifications need to occur when there are big site changes, the certifications all go on quietly in the background without disrupting media plan timelines too much. Rich Media as a channel has now matured and Instream will follow suit and standardisation improves; ridding this extended campaign process in the coming years.

To find out more about the publisher certification process for Instream and all other digital channels in conjunction with Ad Serving Technology, get a copy of: Ad Serving Technology – Understand the Marketing revelation that commercialized the Internet – available now from Amazon:

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