SSAI/DAI: Basics and Benefits (+ Live Streaming DAI)

By Steven Tripsas on May 21, 2021

Marketing your wares or services in the modern world is changing. Traditional advertising methods are faltering. But you still need to break through the clutter and get your product in front of viewers, increase recall, and convert them into paying customers. 

In today’s challenging environment, ad blockers and overly disruptive advertising methods make things difficult. Content is difficult to target and make seamless. Enter Server-Side Ad Insertion or SSAI. 

Providing seamless ads that do not fall prey to ad blockers means your content is being seen by more people. The individualized targeting capabilities of SSAI are revolutionary. And you should get acquainted with all its benefits. 

Keep reading to learn everything you should know to build valuable content through SSAI. 

What is Server-Side Ad Insertion (SSAI)?

Simply put, SSAI is a means of dynamically inserting ads into video content. The content should already be high-quality and long-form. Whether you are a media distributor or a content owner, SSAI makes ad insertion better. 

The type of content SSAI is useful for is Over The Top (OTT) video services. This can be linear, live, or on-demand video content. 

SSAI provides a buffer-less manner of advertising. Transitioning from content to ad is seamless, providing a more comfortable user experience.

SSAI vendors are mediators. They work between the Online Video Player (OVP) and the ad server. By facilitating the communication between these two entities, the ads are appropriately placed within the video content.

These ads can be easily switched out to target each individual watching the content. This means your campaign can be optimized for maximum results.  

To get more technical, SSAI has a Manifest Manipulator (MM) component that splices streams for clients. This MM essentially makes all the decisions. It decides which ad to serve the client, retrieves the ad, and then stitches said ad into the video content at the last moment, in a frame-accurate manner. 

What is Dynamic Ad Insertion (DAI)?

Dynamic Ad Insertion, or DAI, is just another name for SSAI. Both terms are often used interchangeably.

In fact, SSAI and DAI are referred to in many different ways. Ad stitching, dynamic insertion, server-side video ad technology - they are all the same thing. 

How DAI and SSAI Work Together

It is essential to highlight the "dynamic" part of DAI and the "Server-side" of SSAI. Together, these two terms create a more holistic understanding of the advertising process.

The dynamic concept means DAI accounts for constant change and is ready to adapt to the viewer. By preparing for the always-changing world, DAI provides more longevity in the advertising sphere. 

The Server-Side idea brings in a third party to the advertising world. It means SSAI is taking care of the legwork of getting an ad transcoded and stitched into the content being viewed by the end-user.

With this in mind, it's time to learn about the key benefits that SSAI - and by extension DAI - can provide. 

Benefits of DAI and SSAI

It is clear that DAI does a great deal for those looking to advertise content. From getting a greater ad value to being less disruptive, it's clearly more valuable for both consumers and advertisers. 

Now, let's look at the specifics of how DAI and SSAI can benefit you. 

Prevents Ad Blocking

Because SSAI is actually stitching together the ad and the video, ad blocking can be prevented. This gives SSAI a considerable advantage over many other forms of video advertising. 

To be more detailed, it is potentially impossible to block SSAI ads - for now, at least. Because the transitions between ads and content are so smooth, ad blockers cannot "see" the difference between the ad and the primary video because they look like one continuous stream. 

Greater Ad Value, More Revenue

When potential customers are genuinely viewing your ads, you are far more likely to see results. Valuable ads create valuable revenue streams. 

The ads are more valuable for several reasons. One, as previously mentioned, you know they will actually be seen by customers. SSAI makes ad blocking more difficult. As a result, this can lead to better ad impressions.

Secondly, individual targeting and hyper-local ads can be utilized. Even with content broadcast on a national scale, ads can be targeted to a zip code. 

Lastly, available inventory can be sold programmatically.  This streamlines buyer access to ad inventory. 


Ads on broadcast television are historically bought based on a wide possible audience. With DAI, even the streaming simulcast can deliver to a niche or targeted audience - just as with online ads. With SSAI, it's all about customization and personalization. As mentioned, ads can be designed to target specific consumer types in specific locations. Additionally, SSAI can work on a variety of devices and all different endpoints. 

In many ways, it's the future of personalizing the TV sphere in particular. For years, it has been a struggle to accurately, and narrowly, target ads to those who watch TV.

Sure, it might have been possible to target a location in the past. But, it was much more difficult to target an individual specifically for your product. 

Now, it's clear that SSAI is the future of OTT. 

Less Disruptive

SSAI is less disruptive than most other forms of online advertising. This is because it works similarly to broadcast TV advertising. In particular, with SSAI there is no buffering. 

This is possible because the SSAI vendor converts the stream to an Adaptive Bitrate (ABR) format. Through this transcoding process, the ABR can tell what the consumer’s real-time bandwidth is. With this information, the stream can be altered to provide the best outcome. 

You can learn more about ABR from Zype Solutions

This works for end users who might have a low internet connection and those with state-of-the-art solid bandwidth. SSAI is also less disruptive, as it provides a superior viewing experience to ads that are not well-targeted. But we'll go into that in a later section. 

Data and Analytics

When it comes to getting your data, it's easy. All reporting can easily capture ad view metrics.

From the content producer’s side, they can access statistics showing how users interact with the ads. From the advertiser's side, they can analyze how their content is being targeted and engaged with. 

Better Viewing Experience

By having improved targeted ads, the consumer and advertiser benefit. 

According to a Consumer OTT Report by OpenX:

  •  72% of users recall specific ads
  • 66% of users learned about a new product from an OTT ad
  • 40% of users seen an OTT ad, then went online to learn more

For the consumer, if content is personalized to them they are more likely to be engaged. On the advertiser side, they can avoid the display of generic ads that don’t appeal to a target audience.


Dynamic Adaptation 

Right in the very name, DAI, you find the word "dynamic." Being dynamic in today's world is vital. It is necessary to adapt to the constant changes advertising is facing. 

Advertisers have wanted something like DAI for decades to better engage with their consumers. This form of advertising brings innovation.

With innovation, SSAI is overcoming many of the challenges advertisers have faced in recent years. In particular, SSAI is adapting for the rising newcomer on the block, live streaming.

Live Streaming DAI

Living streaming is continuing its rise towards dominating the video consumption market. With this in mind, it's a sure bet that advertisers want to make sure they are getting the products in front of the live streaming audience.

What makes DAI so revolutionary is that it can even be used in live streaming content. On the fly, the SSAI vendor can determine what ads will suit each viewer. 

DAI is quickly becoming the standard in streaming - the future is already here. It is clear from all of the benefits of DAI that, when it comes to live streaming content, it's the clear winner. 

When you are live streaming, it's also a good idea to consider Multi-Content Delivery Network (CDN) strategies. To learn more about Multi-CDN's and their benefits for live streaming, check out our post.

Is SSAI for You? 

With this post, you should know everything you need to decide whether SSAI is the best form of advertising for you. If you are:

  • Looking to market your streaming service as a place for advertisers
  • An advertiser looking for the best way to show your products

Then, SSAI is definitely an option for you.

Zype's SSAI solution includes built-in integration with major ad servers like SpotX and FreeWheel and supports a full range of ad macros to optimize ad fills. You can learn more about Zype's advertising capabilities here.

Connect your video with viewers, everywhere.