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Mobile Video Skipping Challenges

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By , AerServ Team


Video skip ability is a topic that can be at odds between publishers and advertisers. Publishers want to provide the best experience for their users and allow them the option of skipping a video ad, while advertisers want their ads viewed as long as possible so they do not want to offer this option. How to handle video skipping is a challenge and the options must be weighed to determine the best solution.

Video skip ability is typically offered via 2 implementations. The first is a set time limit where a publisher or the ad server defines after how many seconds or after what percentage of a video ad shown does a skip button appear. This implementation is easy to implement and adjust and gives control to the publisher. Most publishers would choose to have the skip button appear as soon as the user has viewed enough of the video ad to be assured of receiving payment for it, so they can provide the best experience for their users. Of course this implementation can negatively impact the VTR (view through rate or 100% video completion rate) metrics for the publisher.

The second implementation is defining the skip settings in the VAST XML that delivers the video information. The IAB VAST specification 3.0, released in July of 2012, introduces the Skipoffset attribute which can be used to define when the skip button should be shown, per the advertiser’s instructions, after the creative has started playing. If a video player provides the skip functionality, it must display a skip button to the user at the time indicated in the VAST. This implementation places the skip control in the hands of the advertiser, but it is dependent on the video player supporting VAST 3.0 and honoring the VAST skip directive. Depending on the skip offset value defined (15 seconds, 30 seconds, 25%, etc.) it can lead to a poorer user experience.

If no skipoffset is defined in the VAST, then it should be handled as a regular linear video and when the skip button appears is dependent upon the value defined by the publisher, video player or ad server.

The challenge arises when a publisher or video player has defined when the skip button should appear and the advertiser has also defined when the skip button should appear in the VAST but they are different values. Which value should be used to define when the skip button is displayed? The publisher wants the skip button shown as soon as possible while the advertiser wants to delay it for as long as possible, and how should the user experience factor in? According to the IAB VAST spec, if the skipoffset is defined in the VAST that should take precedence, but those instructions are not always followed.

Each ad server defines what it will do if both the publisher and advertiser specify different skip settings. The solution of which one to choose is tricky as each ad server must navigate and weigh the demands of user experience, the IAB VAST specification, providing as much control as possible to the publisher and maintaining strong relationships with advertisers. The correct solution may not always be as simple as it seems and depends on whose perspective it is viewed from.