05.06.2024 r. Insight Land

Pass Back

What is Pass Back?

Pass back, in the context of digital advertising, refers to the process where an ad inventory that was not filled by a primary ad exchange or network is passed back to the original publisher or to another ad network. This is done to find a suitable ad to fill the space. This technique is employed to ensure that ad slots on websites or digital platforms do not remain empty, optimizing the opportunity for publishers to earn revenue. Pass back is a mechanism used primarily in programmatic advertising, where ad impressions are bought and sold on a per-impression basis, utilizing real-time bidding (RTB) technology.

Why is Pass Back important?

The importance of pass back lies in its ability to maximize ad revenue for publishers while ensuring that advertisers have ample opportunity to display their ads. In a digital advertising ecosystem that thrives on the optimization of ad spaces, ensuring every ad slot is filled is paramount. Pass back helps in reducing the wastage of potential ad spaces, thereby increasing the efficiency of ad delivery and the potential revenue generated from ad impressions. It serves as a critical fallback strategy for publishers to ensure that their ad inventory is always utilized effectively, enhancing overall ad fill rates and revenue.

How does Pass Back work?

The pass-back process starts when an ad slot on a publisher’s website is up for auction, and the primary ad network or exchange cannot fill the slot with an ad that meets the minimum price threshold set by the publisher. Instead of leaving the slot empty, the unfilled inventory is ‘passed back’ to the publisher or another secondary ad network. The publisher can then attempt to fill this slot through other channels, possibly with a lower price threshold, or with ads that are directly sold or have different revenue-sharing agreements. This loop continues until an ad that satisfies the minimum criteria is found or the ad slot is filled by a default or house ad.

Good to know about Pass Back

While pass back can increase ad fill rates and revenue, it’s not without challenges. The process can lead to increased latency, as the ad slot goes through multiple networks before being filled, potentially affecting user experience. Moreover, there’s a risk of lowering the average price of ad inventory over time, as slots that repeatedly go through the pass-back process might eventually be filled at lower rates. Advertisers and publishers must carefully manage their pass-back strategies to balance revenue optimization with user experience and ad inventory value. Case studies have shown that efficient use of pass back, combined with sophisticated ad tech stacks and real-time analytics, can significantly enhance ad revenue while maintaining a high-quality user experience. However, overreliance or inefficient management of pass-back mechanisms can lead to suboptimal outcomes, including decreased ad inventory value and adverse impacts on site performance.