Reliability concerns with online advertising (part 2)

anger person Serving ads online involves a lot of moving components. Most of the time, ads are displayed instantly within milliseconds and viewers experience no noticeable delay. However, that is not always the case. When one of these components fails or does not run at its optimal performance, advertisements might be slow to load or do not load at all. These rare outages can happen but they are not a frequent incident. Your goal is to make it less frequent and essentially invisible to your users.

Plan of action

When an outage or issue happens, you need to have a plan of actions. This plan should be prepared ahead of time. You need to know which vendor to contact, who to raise the issue and what information to provide to their technical support team so that they can quickly identify, troubleshoot and provide a suitable solution. It is always more useful to provide as many details as possible to minimize back-and-forth clarifications. By providing more details, you help them help you because the tech team can jump right into action instead of asking and waiting for your clarification.

For example, if an ad does not show like it usually does then you can check the same web page using another browser and/or even on another computer to verify if you can see that same ad. If the ad does not show on multiple browsers, or multiple computers, then it’s more likely that the issue is something more serious. In this case, you need to bring it to the tech support team’s attention. On the other hand, if the ad shows on one browser but not on another browser then you need to double-check your ad blockers as your browser might be blocking the ads. If you can view other ads but not a particular ad then you can rule out the ad blocking issue. Basically, these are just a few simple tests that you can do on your end to rule out a number of issues. Let the tech team know what you have already tried so that they can exclude those scenarios and focus on the other possibilities in order to quickly identify and provide you with a suitable solution.

Reliable ad servers go down even less often

While there is always the possibility of an ad server going down, you can limit how often that happens by choosing a company that has a proven track record of being a reliable solution. One simple fact that you can look at is the number of years that they have been in the ad serving business. New businesses open all the time but also many businesses shut down or disappear after only a year or two, for many different reasons. If an adserver company has been in service for ten years, twenty years or even more then they must be doing many things right to remain in business for such a long period of time. Of course there are more to consider than just the number of years but that is a simple yet effective factor. You can also ask the vendor to describe what they do to maintain uptime, avoid outages and minimize negative effects.

Ads are loading slow

You can see the ad but it’s just slower than usual to show up on the screen. This means the ad server is still online but something is not performing at its peak. It’s likely there is an issue and things are not working at the optimal level. It is not an emergency but at the same time, you do not want your viewers to have to wait for ads and have a bad feeling about your site. This is where your choice of an ad server once again comes into play. You can avoid slow loading ads by using an as server with a global reach and a proven record of performance. Typically, this might be a networking issue happening to a third-party ad server, a creative hosting service, or a vendor along the ad supply chain. High latency is often the primary cause for a sudden slow ad loading. These issues are often temporary and affect specific routes and so it might be slow for you but not for other viewers. You can ask friends to check if it's slow for them as well. The delay also depends on the ad formats and sizes. It might not be a big difference for text-link adserving but the delay might be very noticeable for video adserving because video files are bigger and more demanding than text links. In these cases, it is a good idea to contact technical support to ensure that they are aware of the situation and advise you of the appropriate next steps because networking issues do happen from time to time.

Part 1 - Outage frequency and impact management

Part 3 - Image host, video ad server, and landing pages


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