Manual ad break playback in the IMA SDKs

We recently launched manual ad break playback across our iOS, Android, HTML5, and Flash SDKs. For more info on what this means and how to use it, read on!

What is manual ad break playback?

Under a standard IMA SDK implementation, when an ad rules or VMAP response is returned, the SDK will automatically play each ad break at its cue point. With manual ad break playback, the SDK will instead fire an event when it’s time to play an ad break, and let you decide if or when you’d like to play it.

What are the implications of this change?

If you’re happy with your current ad rules or VMAP performance, this change doesn’t require you to do anything - your implementation will continue to work just as it does now. If you’d like more fine-tuned control over ad break playback timing, then we recommend using this feature.

What are the benefits of this change?

We see two major areas in which this change will help publishers. The first is when a user starts a stream somewhere in the middle of the content instead of at the beginning. (The most common scenario is that the user watched part of the video previously, left the app or page, and returned to continue watching the rest of the video). With a standard implementation, the user will be greeted by (in some cases) a pre-roll, followed by the most recent mid-roll that they watched previously, then the content. By using manual ad break playback you can prevent the pre- or mid-roll (or both) from playing so that the user can go straight to the content, and then resume mid-rolls when the user sees their first mid-roll break for the new session.

The second major use case is misaligned ad breaks. If you’re playing long form content with mid-rolls, and your video fades in and out for mid-roll breaks, you want to make sure that your ad breaks properly align with those fades. In some cases, publishers have told us that the ad break scheduling changes slightly between pieces of content, causing the ad to cut off content for some streams. With this new system, if you know exactly when an ad break should play, you can listen for the AD_BREAK_READY event and delay the ad break playback until the exact time your stream is ready for it.

How do I implement this new feature?

We have guides for each of the SDKs on implementing this new feature:

As always, if you have any questions feel free to contact us via the support forum.