AWS for M&E Blog

How to configure advanced features in AWS Elemental MediaTailor

This how-to blog series in three parts walks through the advanced features for ad insertion available with AWS Elemental MediaTailor. Links to each post are available and cross-referenced as the series progresses. Return to the AWS Media Blog in the coming days for additions to the series.

AWS Elemental MediaTailor

AWS Elemental MediaTailor is a personalized ad insertion service that uses server-side ad insertion (SSAI) to stitch ads tailored for individual viewers into streaming video content. MediaTailor supports live streaming and video on demand (VOD) content in HTTP Live Streaming (HLS), Dynamic Adaptive Streaming over HTTP (DASH) and Common Media Application Format (CMAF) over-the-top (OTT) video streaming formats.

Dynamic ad insertion overview

Server-side ad insertion, also referred to as dynamic ad insertion, gives content providers the ability to overcome many challenges of client-side ad insertion (CSAI). With SSAI, ad content is transcoded on the server side in order to match the video quality of the primary content stream for a truly seamless viewing experience.

Client-side ad insertion calls external servers for ad content. This approach to ad insertion can cause unwanted errors and buffering on client players. MediaTailor stitches ads into the client manifest so they appear and are served as regular content to the client player. MediaTailor serves content and ads from a common endpoint that secures OTT streams against strategies to block ads from known ad serving entities. In addition, MediaTailor, in combination with a customer’s Ad Decision Server (ADS), delivers personalized ads to drive user engagement and interest in the OTT stream.

SSAI and MediaTailor

SSAI implementation can be complex, as it combines real-time, seamless manifest manipulation and delivery, latency sensitive communication with the ADS, processing of the ADS response, and preparation of ad content for delivery. MediaTailor is designed to manage each of these steps, handle peaks associated with sudden and unpredictable demand for content, and deliver just-in-time server-side ad insertion for your business-as-usual volume.

MediaTailor performs ad personalization by passing static and dynamic ad variables in the request to the ADS. These variables include session and client player data necessary for the personalization of ads. Customers can easily customize ad break behavior through ad suppression and insertion of pre-roll ads, bumpers, and slates. Other notable features include ad pre-fetch to improve fill rates, and support for multiple content origins within a single configuration. Learn more about MediaTailor ad prefetch in this AWS for M&E video tutorial.

The following high-level diagram outlines the components of an OTT streaming solution with server-side ad insertion. Instructions in this blog series use this architecture unless otherwise indicated.

Figure (alt text): holistic view of OTT streaming solution with MediaTailor, various origin types, an ADS connection, and media types served through a CDN

Holistic view of OTT streaming solution with MediaTailor, various origin types, an ADS connection, and media types served through a CDN

MediaTailor provides path and URL re-write features to customize how the client media manifest presents content and ad segment URLs. A future post in this series provides step-by-step instructions for setting up a MediaTailor configuration and Amazon CloudFront distribution to optimize delivery of content and ad segments to the client players.


AWS Elemental MediaTailor is a fully managed service used to build advanced video streaming workloads with ad insertion. The personalization of ads and the internal transcoding of ads to match source video content delivers an excellent viewing experience to the end user as well as improved monetization opportunities for content owners.

This blog post series aims to introduce readers to advanced features available with MediaTailor and related services in a typical ad insertion workload. The detailed description and instructions for each step are designed to provide a thorough understanding of available features. We encourage readers to analyze their ad insertion workloads and take advantage of these features to improve the efficiency of content and ad delivery.

Subsequent posts will continue to present new and existing features designed to improve or enhance ad insertion workloads with MediaTailor. We encourage you to reach out with questions or topics of interest.

Scott Cunningham

Scott Cunningham

Scott Cunningham is a Senior Product Manager for the AWS Elemental MediaTailor service. Scott has been serving customers in the Media & Entertainment industry for over 10 years.

Dev Khosla

Dev Khosla

Dev Khosla is a Senior Solutions Architect based out of Dallas, Texas. He is passionate about helping AWS Elemental customers build efficient streaming workloads on premise and in the cloud.