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Video advertising with Bitmovin’s HTML5 Player

Video advertising is always an important topic for broadcasters, as with the entire video industry. This is especially true in the digital domain, so we are very happy to announce improved support for video ads in the latest version of the Bitmovin Adaptive Streaming Player, in particular for post, mid and pre roll ads!

The Bitmovin HTML5 Player now supports the following types of video ads:

  • Skippable ads
  • Non-skippable ads
  • Pre-roll
  • Mid-roll
  • Post-roll.

Ad support is now available to our customers at no additional cost! There are several different possibilities for using ads in combination with online video streaming. Read on to learn how you can introduce ads to any web application using Bitmovin’s adaptive streaming player.
video ads vast

How To – VAST and Bitmovin’s Adaptive Streaming Player

The following paragraphs present a step-by-step guide for making use of Bitmovin’s advertising support in your application. We show the usage in combination with Google DoubleClick for Publishers. The ad tag(s), created within this guide, will be built on DFP Ad Units. Find out more about Google Ad Units and how they can be created.

Generating Ad Tags, Using Google DFP

Once one or more Ad Units have been created, they can then be used to generate the ad tag, which will be needed for the player configuration later on. To do so, login to Admin Console and switch to the Generate tags page, like shown in the screenshot below.

Pre roll ads for video advertising
As you can see, we’ve selected two different Ad Units, which we will use for a pre- and mid-roll ad, respectively. In general you can use as many Ad Units as needed for your use case. It is possible to both group them (e.g.playing two pre-roll ads before the actual video) or to use them separately at different points in time. In the next steps you will be asked to choose the tag type; we recommend using ‘Google Publisher Tag’ for now, and step over the tag options. In the final view of the wizard the ad tag(s), corresponding to the selected Ad Unit(s) will be generated, as shown in the screenshot below.

screenshot021[1]
The example shows the paths to the two tags, which we will use in the player configuration later on. Notice that three of the query parameters are covered by placeholders and should be replaced with the dedicated values.

'https://...&url=[referrer_url]&description_url=[description_url]&correlator=[timestamp]'

The url parameter indicates the address of the page where the ad will appear. So, in our case we use https://bitmovin.com. Please note, that the URL should be single-encoded. The description_url is the URL of the page that contains the player that is making the request; we use https://bitmovin.com as well. The last parameter, named correlator indicates a random number, typically the timestamp of the page view. Considering the above, the query parameters will be:

'https://...&url=https%3A%2F%2Fbitmovin.com&description_url=https%3A%2F%2Fbitmovin.com&correlator=1454061748879'

More information about ad tags and how the URL is compounded can be found in the related documentation.

Playback with Bitmovin’s Adaptive Streaming Player

Now, it’s time to prepare the player and point it to the generated tags. The Bitmovin adaptive streaming player utilizes the browser built-in HTML5 Media Source Extensions (MSE) to playback multimedia content natively through the browser decoding engine. More information about native HTML5 playback, as well as browser coverage, can be found in our post about replacing Flash.

portal-player[1]
To get an overview of all relevant information regarding the player, click on the player overview menu item. As you can see in the above screenshot, the overview shows your personal player key, the CDN path of the player files and how many impressions have already been generated this month. You can use our fully featured player for free when used for 5,000 (or less) impressions per month. For testing and evaluation purposes, video views on localhost does not increase the impressions count. You can also use the player on multiple domains. Just add them to the list of approved domains. To add a domain, enter the domain name and click the ‘Add new Domain(s)’ button, as indicated in the figure below.

Add new domains video advertising configuration
In the ‘Embed’ tab of the player part, you can download a prepared code snippet and use this to embed the player in an existing page (or simply download a pre-configured sample page). Regardless of which option you prefer, the player configuration will be the same. You can point the player to any MPEG-DASH and/or HLS stream, by changing the source part of the configuration object of the player. To generate MPEG-DASH and HLS content, you can simply use our cloud based encoding system.
A simple configuration, using just one pre-roll ad sequence in combination with a DASH stream might look like this:

var conf = {
  key:    'YOUR-KEY-HERE',
  source: {
    dash:           'https://path/to/your/stream.mpd'
  },
  advertising: {
    client : 'vast',
    tag:     'https://your.ad.provider/manifest.xml'
  }
}

The key attribute takes the player license key from the player overview tab, the used DASH manifest is referenced by the DASH tag. The additional advertising attribute includes different advertising related options, which are explained in more detail in our support section.
Within this tutorial, we want to make use of a pre-roll ad and one additional mid-roll ad after 50% of the video has been played. The above config contains only one ad manifest, which will be played as pre-roll ad, as no other information is specified. To achieve the desired behavior, the advertising block has to be modified as follows:

 {
  advertising: {
    client    : 'vast',
    admessage : 'This ad will end in xx seconds',
    schedule : {
      'pre-roll-ad': {
        offset : 'pre',
        tag    : 'https://...&url=https%3A%2F%2Fbitmovin.com&description_url=https%3A%2F%2Fbitmovin.com&correlator=1454061748879'
      },
      'mid-roll-ad': {
        offset : '50%',
        tag    : 'https://...&url=https%3A%2F%2Fbitmovin.com&description_url=https%3A%2F%2Fbitmovin.com&correlator=1454063241031'
      }
    }
}

As you can see, a schedule has been added which tells the player when the playback of the dedicated tag (and thereby its embedded ad) will start. In context of pre- and post-roll ads, a simple keyword (pre, or post) is sufficient. For mid-roll ads several different indications can be used. In this case, a percental notation is used (50%), indicating that the ad will start in the middle of the video. The tag attribute contains the path to the generated ad tags from the first part of this guide.
Once the player is initiated, the referenced pre-roll ad will be presented. As it was defined as skippable, only the first part of the entire ad has to be viewed. One can resume the content video, by pressing the ‘skip ad’ button, as indicated in the screenshot below . During ad playout, the remaining time for ad sequence is displayed instead of the progress bar. The corresponding text can be specified within the admessage attribute in the configuration of the player. As specified within the schedule, the mid-roll ad will start automatically in the middle of the content video.

VASt vide ads support ad messages
A working demo, with a similar configuration can be seen in our new video ads demo. Please make sure you disable any ad blocker, as this might hinder the playout. For more information on other possible options, please have a look at our online documentation.

Conclusion

Bitmovin’s adaptive steaming player offers an easy and straightforward way to introduce pre-, mid,- and post-roll ads to any web application. Within this how-to guide, we showed the configuration of our player implementation in combination with Google DFP. In general, the advertising support of our player implementation is not limited to the Google service and can be used with arbitrary ad providers, following declarations in context of VAST.
All the best,
a Bitmover called Reinhard.
Follow us on Twitter: @bitmovin

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Author

Reinhard Grandl is Director of Product Management at Bitmovin. Reinhard received his Master degree from the Alpen-Adria Universität Klagenfurt, specializing on Networked and Embedded Systems, in 2014 and joined Bitmovin in 2013 as part of the player department. Reinhard’s experience includes positions in international research and development companies.

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