Video Ad Throttling – Everything You Need to Know

Updated on: February 21, 2024
"One in four US internet users say they block ads, which is equivalent to more than 70 million people."

For the digital advertising industry, ‘ad blocking‘ is one of the existential crises. Apparently, delivering a lousy user experience is the reason why consumers install a blocker in the first place. Publishers, big or small, still struggle to find the right balance between ads and content. The situation gets even more complicated when it comes to serving video ads. Well, as a publisher, you can’t avoid programmatic video ads. Both advertisers and users are flocking towards video content and it’s important to figure out a way to deliver a better user experience while running video ads. That’s where video ad throttling comes in. 

“One in four US internet users say they block ads, which is equivalent to more than 70 million people.”

– eMarketer.

Though video ad throttling doesn’t solve all the problems, it prevents you from rendering substandard video ads. That being said, publishers are concerned about ads getting throttled as they can’t figure out why did it happen? And, most importantly, will they be paid for throttled impressions? 

But how do you make sure that the video ads won’t be throttled? Let’s start from the beginning and we’ll simplify things step by step. At the first stage, many publishers check the quality of video ads through their SSP partners who further make sure from DSPs that the video ads are relevant and follow standard video specifications. Also, there are a few metrics that help to identify which ads are the best ones or the worst ones. 

  • View Rate: Basically, view rate is the term that determines how many times your video ads have been served correctly and viewed by the visitors. Mathematically, the view rate is calculated with the help of the given formula. 

View Rate = Number of times the first frame rendered / Number of times the video ad won an auction.

  • Error Rate: An error rate is a rate that determines how many errors a video ad has had after being served. The error can happen because of corrupted media files, malformed VAST, or timed-out videos. The error rate can be calculated as follow: 

Error Rate = Number of errors / Number of won ad impressions.

To ensure that video ads run smoothly, it is usually suggested to maintain a low error rate and high view rate for an ad. But, in programmatic advertising, everything happens at a faster pace in real-time. Sometimes, even after taking care of everything, video ads don’t show up or some problematic video ads get displayed and the reason could be anything. It could be because of the publisher’s side or the buyer’s side. 

What is video ad throttling?

Video ad throttling is a process that prohibits problematic ads with low view rates and high error rates to compete in the auctions. The process done from the side of DSPs (demand-side platforms) maintains optimal performance and reliability of ads and makes sure that the video ads which are performing well show up more often than the non-performing ones. 

How does video ad throttling happen?

In order to save both sides from poor quality advertising, exchanges define a throttling threshold value. Video throttling happens if the error rate of a video ad exceeds the predefined throttling threshold value.

If a low-quality video ad inventory participates in the auction and the advertiser wins the impression; the advertiser isn’t charged for such impressions. For example, Google sets a threshold for its partner inventory to prevent publishers from serving poor-quality video ads. When the error rate decreases, the video ad throttling is removed automatically (Src). 

factors that throttle a video ad

Video ads are a great way to attract audience attention and they do outperform text and image ad formats. But, as you know – video advertising is expensive. What if you have premium video inventories on your website and you’re sitting in the hope of earning better CPMs from advertisers, but at the last moment nothing shows up or a video with errors gets displayed on the space. This isn’t going to help anyone.

Being a publisher, you’re wasting your inventories for no reason and indirectly allowing advertisers to spend thousands of dollars on video ads elsewhere on the web.

What are the Factors that Throttle a Video Ad?

Some of the common reasons for high error rates on video ads: 

  • Incompatible ad creative,
  • Incompatible media file formats,
  • Wrapper overload or wrapper limit reached,
  • General VPAID errors,
  • Timeouts of media files,
  • Desktop ad creatives repurposed for mobiles and vice versa, etc.

How to Avoid Video Ad Throttling?

In order to avoid video ad throttling, both the seller side and buyer side should take care of the following things:

  • The video ad bid requests match the compatibility of the ad inventory. A non-skippable ad request won’t work for a skippable video ad and vice-versa.
  • They should know the maximum and minimum video ad duration fields and the ad requests should be sent and accepted accordingly.
  • The video tags should contain the correct extension and MIME type since this helps in identifying the type of video format (i.e. MP4, WebM, or OGG). If the type or extension is missing from the tag or doesn’t support a browser, then the ad may get throttled. For example, Internet Explorer doesn’t support WebM format. Therefore, a video in WebM format will get restricted.

In most cases, the above-mentioned points are taken care of by SSPs. To simplify things, there are certain fields that SSPs should check with their demand partners to reduce the chances of video ads getting throttled:

  • Video.mimes,
  • Video.protocols,
  • Video.minduration,
  • Video.maxduration,
  • Video.linearity,
  • Video.maxbitrate,
  • Video.minbitrate, and
  • Video.api.

These factors can help both sides to identify if ads are compatible with the ad inventories. Thus, reducing the chances of video ad throttling.


Throttling puts a limit on the growth of your ad revenue. And obviously, no one wants it. Therefore, in order to prevent throttling, it is suggested to stay updated with the demand-side ad request specifications and be aware of IAB standards that further can help in selecting best compatible video ad templates for your video ad inventories.  

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