Introducing The Video Ad Flow Map

Troubleshooting video ad failures requires you to go deep into the mechanics of how things work . For this we’ve developed the Video Ad Flow map.

Hot on the heals of the first post in our series around troubleshooting video ad failures, we’re next going to look under the hood/bonnet at the mechanics that make up a video ad session.

Here at Watching That, we’ve developed a detailed flow chart that outlines:

  • each step and decision in the sequence of every video ad session;
  • the hand offs between all the components involved: the video player, ad manager and ad servers (primary and in the wrapper chain); and
  • at which point in the sequence an error (VAST or otherwise) could be thrown.

This gives us a map that links a VAST, IMA or Player error code to a particular part of the sequence and, in turn, the system most likely responsible for the failure.  

Essentially pinpointing where to focus your troubleshooting efforts.

The map itself is relatively large so feel free to download the file so you can zoom in and dive into the flow:


video session flowchart (1)


How to use the Video Ad Flow map

To make the most of this map keep the following in mind:

It’s broken into 3 zones:

  1. Request : this is dominated by client side code and components (player, IMA SDK and custom scripts)
  2. Response: the domain of the primary ad server and the participating SSPs and DSPs; and
  3. Playback: the rendering of the ad itself in the video player.

Each step is assigned to a specific phase and each phase has a box that outlines:

  • The systems involved in that phase;
  • Common hotspots for errors;
  • Data points that you should be tracking to help identify the cause of error.

Also please note that the map includes IMA SDK errors as well as the VAST 3.0 errors. If you use Freewheel or another ad platform the sequence is the same although you’ll get a different error signature in place of the IMA error set.

From here we’re going to be continuing this series and start looking at specific errors that you’ll see in your VAST error reports and how to troubleshoot each one.