Real-Time Ads: Advertising in an Instant

Real-Time Ads: Advertising in an Instant

Things change quickly. So should your advertising. That's why Adnuntius Advertising is designed to have any updates serving to your site instantly. Any update to your advertising is out the door and serving well before you’ve hit refresh on your site.

Got an advertising order promoting Beyoncé’s just-announced tour? That’s serving as soon as you upload your creative.

Need to A/B test a new ad format? Upload and the experiment is running.

With real-time ads, your workflow is made easy and there’s no guesswork about when or even if your changes have been made. What ads you see uploaded into Adnuntius Advertising are exactly the ads you’ll see serving on your site. Instantly.

The Secret Sauce: Instant Indexing

An indexer is the software that transforms the ads and ad units inputted into the platform into those that are served onto your site. Our handcrafted indexer is designed to make that transition happen instantly, so any changes are made visible on your site immediately with no wait in between.

Instant Indexing and the Ad Server

Indexing and ad serving are the central processing core of any advertising platform. The ad server is the software that runs auctions between competing ads and delivers ads to users. The ad server is like the brain of the Adnuntius platform, making rapid decisions to match users with relevant advertisements, and the indexer acts as the brain's librarian, organising memories to provide quick retrieval and updates.

Instant indexing means that the Adnuntius brain has immediate recall. By contrast, an ad server without instant indexing is akin to recognising an old friend’s face an hour after seeing them.

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“The ad server is the brain of the Adnuntius platform, making rapid decisions to match users with relevant advertisements”


The Technical Details

Our indexer translates each advertising change into the format which is most efficient for an ad server to work with. For example, rather than representing device targeting instructions as a text string, we encode it into a number for the ad server to match against the device the user is browsing with. As part of this process, we validate and reject invalid data in order to guarantee a set of invariants for each ad server that we run in the cloud. This means our ad server will never receive invalid data, which simplifies the job and greatly reduces failures.

The biggest impact, however, is on performance. Our design means our ad server never needs to look up data stored in an external database, which is an incredibly slow process compared to holding all the information in the ad server’s memory.

This means that not only does our indexer work incredibly quickly, it also protects our ad server from failing, which makes it a big part of our RAMS (Reliable, Available, Maintainable, and Safe) strategy.

Any changes made to line items or ads, when viewed from the ad server’s perspective, must be:

  1. Consistent - all ad servers see the same results for each change.

  2. Distributed - because we run multiple ad servers on separate computers in the cloud to handle all the traffic, a single ad server must read those changes independently to others running elsewhere.

As a result, an ad server can independently and quickly read queued changes whenever it is up and running. This means shutting down a single ad server on a cloud computer for maintenance is no big deal. Combined with our very responsive load balancer that shares traffic across all our ad servers, any single ad server can go down without impact. When an ad server is back up and running, it will read up to the latest queued change and be back in sync with the other ad servers before it starts serving ads again.

How Is It Going?

In 2019, we have had 100% uptime for all of our externally measured ad server checks. We make the current and historical status of our most important services available at https://status.adnuntius.com/

The short batches of changes we send to our ad servers result in changes made to advertising material being acted upon in under a second. And because of their structure and lack of lookups, in a typical day our ad servers will respond to 50% of its impression requests within 9 milliseconds and 99% within 50 milliseconds. The full round-trip time from the browser and back again depends on a user’s location, network speed and use of https, which adds around 30 milliseconds in central Europe. For example, users in many European cities will get an ad impression served to them within 50 milliseconds of a request being made.

Maximising Viewability to Drive Monetisation

Maximising Viewability to Drive Monetisation

Advertisers don’t want to pay for ad impressions that are never seen. And who can blame them? Advertisers are demanding viewability, proof that their ad spend results in actual people seeing ads.

The IAB (International Advertising Bureau) defines an impression as being viewable when at least 50% of an ad's area is visible on a browser's viewport for over a second. Taking into account page load times, how quickly users bounce through pages and their quick scrolling, high viewability is not easy for even a banner ad to attain.

Programmatic advertising has been great for publishers, and client-side header bidding a tremendous improvement over waterfall. Nevertheless, programmatic advertising via client-side header bidding is still found wanting on the increasingly key metric to advertisers: viewability.

From request to response, an ad from client-side header bidding can take up to ten seconds to display. Factor in your page’s load time and you're losing advertising dollars before you've even started. Not only that, SSPs often cannot measure ad viewability at all.

Compare that to running your own ad server. Every Adnuntius Advertising ad has viewability measured accurately and effectively straight out of the box, no configuration whatsoever required. Furthermore, Adnuntius Advertising can deliver an ad from browser request to browser render in less than 50 milliseconds. That means you can have an Adnuntius Advertising ad be counted as viewable in less time than it takes for a client-side header bidding to send out a request..

Time is money, and that's never been more true online with the rise of viewability. Your precious banner space can't have time wasted. Increasing ad viewability means delivering ads in the fastest possible way. And that's Adnuntius Advertising -- in less than 50 milliseconds.

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One Ad Tag, Any Ad, Any Time

At Adnuntius, we aim to make things easy, and publishing ad tags onto your pages is a pain. That’s why we designed Adnuntius to ensure that you only have to ever publish an ad tag once to deliver any ad, any time. What’s more: one ad tag capable of delivering any ad means more competition for the same placement, driving up yields.

Just post a single ad tag on your page and you can deliver:

  • A premium banner ad for all desktop users

  • A video ad to high-tech segment users

  • A programmatic ad delivered by client-side header bidding that beats the price of any of your local advertising inventory

  • A programmatic ad delivered by server-to-server (S2S) bidding

  • A collection of native ads to content-hungry segment users

  • An HTML5 ad from an advertiser paying a premium for 35% of your traffic

  • An interstitial ad to all first-time users

  • A parallax ad to your mobile users

All those ads compete on price for the same spot on your website. And as we know, the more you make ads compete on price against each other, the more you drive up your overall yield across your sites.

Also, be sure to read up on what to look for in an adserver!

And right out of the box, with no configuration whatsoever, you’ll get a count of visible impressions and viewable impressions to ensure your ads are being seen. That’s in addition to a whole stack of stats collected and presented to you instantly.

How we do it

Ads within Adnuntius are made from creatives backed by a layout that acts as a template. The combination of the layout and a creative’s details determine how the ad will look, feel and behave.

Layouts are driven by Handlebars templates, an industry standard for the design of web content. These Handlebars templates are evaluated along with the creative’s details in the Adnuntius server to form an ad. This means all Adnuntius ads are ready to go well before the browser or any ad tag need be involved, enabling all ads to compete for the same spot on your website.

Here’s what a typical layout looks like in Adnuntius:

And here’s how that layout is used in a creative to form an ad: