Optimized pods

Optimized pods allow you to receive multiple video ads from a single request. For many TV and broadcast publishers, optimized pods are necessary given that they allow requests for multiple ads based on the full ad break duration—standard pods are limited to duration decisioning for single ads only.

Prior to optimized pods, serving multiple ads into an ad break required a request for each position in the break. This method of requesting ads increases latency.

Ad Manager performs the decisioning to compile the ads that ultimately fill an optimized pod. While the serving logic behind this decisioning can be complex, the information here should help you understand more about pod serving.

Serving logic

Jump to: Fair ad selection | Programmatic and Ad Exchange | Ad buffet

The basic similarities and differences between optimized pods and standard pods & single ad requests are shown here. The more complex nuances regarding configuration and ad serving follow.

Optimized pods Standard pods & single ad requests

Multiple ads (full pod) per request

Single ad per request

Max and exact duration for the pod

Max duration for each ad only

Fallback support by ad buffet only

Support for video fallback

Position in pod targeting

Position in pod targeting

Programmatic support:

  • Programmatic Guaranteed
  • Preferred Deals
  • Private Auctions
  • Open Auction
  • First Look
  • Open Bidding

Optimized Competition is also supported.

Programmatic support:

  • Programmatic Guaranteed
  • Preferred Deals
  • Private Auctions
  • Open Auction
  • First Look
  • Open Bidding

Optimized Competition is also supported.

The same line item cannot serve multiple times in an optimized ad pod.

The same creative cannot serve multiple times in a standard ad pod.

The same line item can serve multiple times.

Optimized pod serving versus single ad selection

Although the serving logic is more complex for optimized pods, the general serving logic used is similar to that of single ad selection. The following factors influence ad serving:

Priority and line item type

In general, a higher priority line item has higher value, and different line items types are treated differently. 

For percent-based line items, delivery is based on request, not impression. If a line item is configured to serve 50% of the time, that 50% is request-based, not impression.

* A future release addresses this and applies dynamic allocation across all optimized pod ad serving where eligible non-guaranteed line items compete with guaranteed line items.

Duration

When multiple line items of the same type and priority compete with different ad durations, then duration may impact delivery based on the traditional logic—single ad demand may be more likely to serve an ad with a longer duration, while multiple ad demand may be more likely to serve likely to serve shorter durations.

Ad Manager might also prioritize a longer ad for a given targeted position. For example, if you have two line items that are targeted to the same position, the longer ad may be selected.

The impact of duration is mitigated by fair ad selection.

The ad duration must be less than or equal to the max duration of the pod. All selection is based on creative duration, when available. The only exception is for Programmatic Guaranteed—because no creatives exist, the line item forecasting duration is used for ad selection. In all other cases, the line item forecasting duration is only used for forecasting purposes.

For exact duration pods, where the pod minimum duration (the pmnd parameter) is equal to the pod maximum duration (the pmxd parameter), the sum of all ad durations must equal the value set in the parameters. This duration is based on the duration found in the VAST, not the media file duration.

Other delivery settings

Delivery settings like targeting and pacing can influence the "weighting" of ads that serve to an optimized pod. Just as with regular ads, line items better suited to fit its delivery needs can carry more "weight" in determining whether Ad Manager returns a line item.

  • Exclusions and capping: Optimized pods select a line item only once, regardless of the number of creatives. This behavior differs from standard video ad pods or single ad requests.
  • Position targeting: Position targeting may influence eligibility.
  • Creative selection: Whether the ad is SSL compliant, of the correct type (linear, non-linear, etc.)

Understand how "fair ad selection" is used to fill optimized pods

The logic behind how optimized pods are filled with ads is complex. While factors like duration and position targeting add to this complexity, Ad Manager incorporates "fair ad selection" logic to address inefficiencies with how and when creative duration is used for ad decisioning.

These scenarios illustrate how ads are selected to fill the pod. Rather than preference given to a particular duration, Ad Manager distributes based on the "weights" given to the creatives and fills based on the configuration of the line item.

Scenario A

  • Inventory consists of ad slots containing a max pod duration of 30 seconds with a max number of ads of 2
  • Reservations consist of 15-second and 30-second ads

An ad slot may be filled with:

  • Two 15-second ads
  • One 30-second ad

The "weights" given to these ads:

  • One 30-second ad would have a weight of 1.0
  • Two 15-second ads would have a weight of 1.0

Scenario B

  • Inventory consists of ad slots containing a max pod duration of 30 seconds with a max number of ads of 1
  • Reservations consist of 15-second and 30-second ads

An ad slot may be filled with:

  • One 15-second ad
  • One 30-second ad

The "weights" given to these ads:

  • One 30-second ad would have a weight of 1.0
  • One 15-second ad would also have a weight of 1.0

Scenario C

  • Inventory consists of ad slots containing a max pod duration of 45 seconds with a max number of ads of 3
  • Reservations consist of 15-second, 30-second, and 40-second ads

An ad slot may be filled with:

  • Three 15-second ads
  • One 30-second ad and one 15-second ad
  • One 40-second ad

The "weights" given to these ads:

  • One 40-second ad would have a weight of 1.0
  • One 30-second ad would have a weight of 0.6666
  • One 15-second ad would have a weight of 0.3333

Example

Given scenario A, if multiple Sponsorship line items are all set to serve 100% of the time, then:

  • 50% of the time the pod is filled by the 30-second ad, and
  • 50% of the time the pod is filled by the two 15-second ads

Programmatic Guaranteed, Preferred Deals, and Ad Exchange

Ad selection for Programmatic Guaranteed and Preferred Deals is aligned closely with traditional Ad Manager ad selection, while Ad Exchange can be quite different.

Programmatic Guaranteed and Preferred Deals

  • Multiple Programmatic Guaranteed line items may be used to fill a single pod.
  • Programmatic Guaranteed is considered 1:1, meaning you have one request and get one ad. Optimized pods can receive multiple Programmatic Guaranteed line items in one pod if multiple line items are eligible.
  • Preferred Deals in Ad Manager are considered backfill. This means that if there are Ad Manager line items that are selected, then the Preferred Deals line items must replace an Ad Manager ad. Ad selection does not select a Preferred Deals line item first. As an example, if shorter duration ads are chosen, then the Preferred Deals line is rejected for being too long.

Ad Exchange

  • Ad Exchange can replace multiple ads and any unfilled time in a pod. 
  • Only Ad Exchange pricing rules are taken into account.
  • Separate bid requests exist for each position in the pod. The number of bids is equal to the number of ads that can be replaced. Multiple ads may still be returned and fill unfilled time, but that occurs in the auction.
  • Optimized pods currently use dynamic allocation where remnant ads do not compete by value CPM by default. This means that a Network line item with a lower CPM will most likely serve before a Price priority line item with a higher CPM.*

Ad Exchange backfill for pods is available via the IMA SDK and the Programmatic Access Library (PAL).

When using the IMA SDK, you need to include the IMA SDK parameters for Ad Exchange to be eligible.

* A future release addresses this and applies dynamic allocation across all optimized pod ad serving where eligible non-guaranteed line items compete with guaranteed line items.

How an Ad Exchange callout works in optimized pod dynamic allocation  

Open Bidding

  • In order for any ad request to be eligible for an optimized pod request, a max ad duration is enforced to ensure that the ad fits within the ad pod. Therefore, the max ad duration sent in the bid request is enforced for both Open Bidding and Ad Exchange buyers. For example, if the max ad duration is 30 seconds and the Open Bidding exchange returns a 45-second ad, the Open Bidding ad is not eligible to serve since it is longer than the available space in the pod.
  • For standard pods, the max ad duration is not enforced and should be set by the publisher in the third-party buyer interface. Only one yield group is used for a single optimized pod request.
  • For Open Bidding eligible ad responses returned from Ad Exchange buyers, the max ad duration value is set in the Open Auction line item, if there is one.

Open Auction

  • Currently, Google Ads can only fill once per optimized pod.
  • For Ad Exchange, multiple callouts to buyers may be sent which can match bids from multiple demand sources—several programmatic ads could fill the otherwise unfilled space.

Ad buffet fallback functionality for optimized pods

Ad buffet is an IAB standard that can be used to provide fallback functionality to optimized pods. It uses standalone ads available to serve in the pod that were not part of the original ads to be served in that pod.

Optimized pods serve ads in a specific sequence. Ad buffet ads are served using their own sequence. For example, for an optimized pod that contains 3 sequential ads and 3 ad buffet ads, if the second ad is a redirect that does not return an ad, the first buffet ad is selected.

Max ads and duration

  • The maximum number of ad buffet ads defaults to 3, but you can increase the value to allow up to 9. This setting is found in Admin and then Video and audio and then Video and audio settings.
  • Ad buffet ads cannot exceed the max duration of the original ads in the pod. For example, if all ads are 30 seconds, then a buffet ad cannot be greater than 30 seconds.
  • Google DAI and the IMA SDK use ad buffet ads that are less than or equal to the duration of the ad being replaced. For example, a 30-second ad buffet ad won't replace a 15-second ad in the pod.
  • Only one ad buffet ad can replace one ad from the pod—the IMA SDK won't use two 15-second ads to replace a 30-second ad.

Line items and eligibility

  • Ad Exchange ads are eligible to serve in fallback positions in optimized pods. As long as an Ad Exchange ad meets the requirements of the pod, more than one Ad Exchange ad may fill the ad buffet.
  • Ads with pod or stream frequency caps are eligible to serve to the ad buffet.
  • Line items that are percentage-based do not need to have different priorities to be selected as part of the ad buffet.
  • Line items with competitive exclusion labels are not eligible to serve to the ad buffet. If a line item with a competitive exclusion label serves in the pod, then other line items with the same label may not serve to the ad buffet. Having a label itself does not preclude the line item from being selected as part of the buffet.
  • Line items that use specific slot position targeting may not be eligible for other positions.
  • Programmatic Guaranteed is not eligible to be serve to the ad buffet.

See an overview of video fallback, which includes information about activating ad buffet.

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