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Overview of DFP Video fallback

Video fallback (also known as waterfall or client-side mediation) maximizes the likelihood of filling an impression opportunity when you’re using VAST redirects. With fallback, DFP determines the eligibility of ads, ranks them accordingly, and returns a slate of ads, rather than just one. 

DFP Video: Fallbacks (5:23)

How video fallback works

DFP sends multiple redirect ads to your SDK when a request is made. The SDK then requests the first ad; if the server fails to respond with a valid VAST response, the SDK requests the second, and continues to "fall back" until it either successfully gets and plays a creative (which could be a DFP hosted creative, as it assumes that the creative would definitely render) or reaches the fallback limit you’ve set for the network. Fallback is a combination of VAST redirect creatives and a DFP hosted creative.

For single video ads, fallback can occur until the first frame of an ad is played. If the ad is unable to play, fallback is ready with another one.

Possible video fallback triggers


  • VAST response times out
  • Blank VAST XML response
  • HTTP error
  • Media file fails to load (not a trigger for pod fallback)
  • VPAID creative loads, but fails to load a video (not a trigger for pod fallback)

Some errors (for example, 202) can occur even if the video ad plays. These errors do not trigger fallback.

For optimized pods, fallback is not available. Errors cannot be detected in media file timeouts or errors associated with VPAID creatives for ads within pods.

Enable video fallback

  1. Sign in to DoubleClick for Publishers.

  2. Click Admin and then Video and then Video settings.
  3. Select Enable video fallback.
  4. Click SAVE.

All IMA3 GPT video tags will use fallback when you enable at the network level. You can add nofb=1 to disable fallback for individual tags.

Requirements and limitations

  • Fallback only applies only to VAST redirect creative types. Ensure that you're using VAST redirect creative sets.

  • Requires the IMA 3 SDK and Google Publisher Tags.

  • Considers dynamic allocation ads for competition only in the first spot of the fallback chain.

  • For most line item types, only one line item is returned for each priority level in the chain. For multiple line items of the same type to be returned in the fallback response, they should generally have different priorities.

    Exceptions to this are price priority line items, and when Ad Exchange is eligible. In either of these situations, multiple line items of the same priority can appear in the chain, as the eCPM is used. When Ad Exchange is eligible (either through dynamic allocation or First Look), only one line item per type is returned.

Report on video fallback position

When you generate a report, select Fallback position under the "Video" section of report dimensions. This allows you to view impressions, clicks, conversions, and other metrics that result from fallback and non-fallback ads that were served.

See VAST 3 fallback metrics by error code

If you use VAST 3, your report includes VAST errors, categorized by response status codes. You can use these metrics to determine the number of times fallback has occurred for a particular creative or line item.

  • VAST errors 300, 301, 302, and 303 indicate errors at the ad request level, which trigger fallback.
  • VAST errors 400-403, 405, 900, and 901 indicate errors during asset playback, which trigger asset-level fallback.
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