The Challenges of Server-Side Ad Insertion

Ad Insertion

Video monetization is an important topic in the industry today. The three main monetization methods are subscriptions, pay-per-view, and advertising. This blog will focus on server-side ad insertion, a monetization method that is driving major revenue for various OTT business.

Specifically, we’ll look at what server-side ad insertion is and how it works. In addition, we’ll provide an overview of advertising monetization. Finally, we’ll discuss how this method is applicable and relevant across the online video industry.

Overall, it’s a good time to consider video ad monetization. For example, digital ad spending continues to rise. On top of this growth, video is now a dominant medium of communication. One staggering statistic, for example, comes from Cisco: By 2020, nearly one million minutes of video per second will cross the internet. In fact, by 2020 82% of all consumer web traffic will be video.

Table of Contents

  • How Modern Video Monetization Works
  • What is Server-Side Ad Insertion?
  • Benefits of Server-Side Ad Insertion
  • How to Insert Ads and Monetize Your Videos
  • Conclusion

How Modern Video Monetization Works

server-side ad insertionTo date, over 33 million U.S. households have cut the cord on their cable subscriptions. Not surprisingly, this number continues to rise. Millions of people are opting for online video.

Overall, research predicts that 310 million households will subscribe to at least one OTT service by 2024. Today, more than 51 million households in the U.S. alone use OTT streaming solutions already.

In turn, this boom in OTT services is driving huge revenues for video monetization businesses. If you’re new to monetization, there are three main methods that businesses use for online video. These include: subscriptions, pay-per-view, and advertising.

Let’s take a quick look at each method now.

Subscription Monetization

Subscriptions, or SVOD, are quite popular. Around a third of professional broadcasters monetize their content via subscription models. In addition, more than 69% of U.S. households have subscribed to at least one OTT service. A full 38% subscribe to two services or more. Given that trend, viewers are approaching “subscription saturation.”

Pay-Per-View Monetization

Pay-per-view streaming is another common monetization method. This “transactional,” or TOVD, model is an effective way to monetize your content. For example, one-time events like sports are perfect for pay-per-view monetization.

Advertising Monetization

According to one user survey, more than half (52%) of viewers prefer ad-supported free content. notes that “the unit economics behind an AVOD business model paints a picture more attractive than that of an SVOD model.” In fact, goes so far as to conclude that “the future is AVOD.”

Note that the company is talking about video-on-demand content. However, the same trends are true for live streaming as well. For example, this study found that a full 64% of live streamers engage with ads.  Now, let’s learn a bit more about effective advertising with the best available technology.

What is Server-Side Ad Insertion?

Server-Side Ad InsertionIn our increasingly digital world, server-side ad insertion is the best available advertising technology. Simply put, ads are great for business. At the same time, consumers are sometimes annoyed by ads. This issue has led to the widespread use of free “ad blockers.” Research indicates that adblockers currently block around 40 percent of ads. As you can imagine, this poses a major issue for broadcaster revenue.

How to solve the ad-blocker issue?

Server-side ad insertion (SSAI) is the best way to circumvent certain ad blocker technology. Ad Pushup describes server-side ad insertion, “also known as ‘dynamic insertion’ or ‘ad stitching,’ as a technology that combines video content and ad content at the CMS level instead of on the level of the browser.”

In short, server-side or dynamic ad insertion inserts advertisements into your main video stream at the server level. The stream that reaches users is continuous, with ads appearing seamlessly inside content.

“Ad blockers work by detecting ad calls that are made in the client,” explains David Springall, founder and CTO of Yospace. “However, with server-side stitching, the ad call and ad stitching are performed before the stream reaches the client, meaning the ad blocker doesn’t detect an ad call and therefore is unable to block the response.”

Other Benefits of SSAI

Besides bypassing some ad blockers, server-side ad insertion can reduce buffering problems and improve user experience. In fact, this tech originally existed to solve user experience problems across a range of devices.

The opposite of server-side ad insertion is called client-side insertion. This approach pauses your content, loads a video advertisement, and then resumes your video when the ad is finished. This approach is easier for ad-blocker technology to detect and block—which is why server-side ad insertion is preferable.

Benefits of Server-Side Ad Insertion

For businesses seeking to monetize their videos, using server-side ad insertion is the clear best choice. The main benefits of server-side ad insertion include:

  • Compatibility with the widest range of devices
  • Bypasses ad blocking
  • Reduced buffering for users

These benefits are played out in the results as well. For example, Animoto’s Social Video Forecast suggests that 76.5% of marketers and small business owners get results with video marketing. To learn more about the technical aspects of server-side ad insertion, check out this white paper.

Next, let’s discuss how to insert ads into your videos for monetization.

How to Insert Ads and Monetize Your Videos

If you’re using the right online video platform, server-side ad insertion isn’t complicated. For example, Dacast provides a simple system for SSAI. This system supports pre-roll ads using the following ad networks:

  • VAST 2
  • VAST 3
  • VMAP
  • Double Click

The Challenges of Server-Side Ad Insertion

There are two ways to insert ads into your Dacast videos: one at a time, and as a batch. To insert ads to one video at a time, first log in to your Dacast account. Then visit the “publish settings” tab for the video you select. Next, simply copy-paste the ad URL into the relevant field. Don’t forget to click “preview” to make sure the ad displays correctly. Also, you may have to clear your cache to display the inserted ad. Finally, click save and your ad will be live!

To insert ads into multiple videos at once, log in to your Dacast account and visit the video-on-demand section. Next, use the checkboxes to select all the videos you want to monetize. Then click the “Batch Configure” drop-down menu, and select “Set Ad URL to multiple contents.” Next, paste the ad URL into the popup that appears. Then click “yes” to save your changes. Don’t forget to test the preview as described above, to make sure it’s working correctly.

This process should only take a few minutes from beginning to end. And batch ad insertion makes it easy to monetize existing libraries of content. Once you enable advertising, you’re free to focus on creating great content and building a large audience.


As this post highlights, server-side ad insertion isn’t as difficult as it may sound. In fact, it’s a wonderful tool for content creators. Platforms like Dacast make it easy to monetize your videos with advertising. Now’s a great time to get in take advantage of the benefits of video ad monetization. Overall, experts predict that OTT revenue will rise to $83.4 billion by 2022. More importantly, advertising will make up a significant portion of that.

We hope this article has introduced you to server-side ad insertion in an accessible way. If you’re looking for a video hosting solution for video live streaming, OTT hosting, fast delivery, and HLS low latency streaming, you’ve come to the right place. Dacast provides all these features–and more! Plus, our streaming solutions are both affordable and easy-to-use. See for yourself with our 30-day free trial! No credit card required.


Do you have questions or comments about OTT solutions, advertising, Dacast, or anything else? We’d love to hear from you in the comment section below. We will get back to you.

For regular live streaming tips and exclusive offers, you can join the Dacast LinkedIn group. Thanks for reading, and best of luck with your live broadcasts.

One thought on “The Challenges of Server-Side Ad Insertion

  1. Joseph Adamson says:

    Hi Max
    You have explained SSAI very well my question is can SSAI work on a 24/7 live streaming
    I have read may articles but it seems pre roll mid roll plays only on a specific piece of video
    Can you please elaborate more on this.

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