Human Ad Server: Shortform

About Human Ad Server: Shortform

Human Ad Server (HAS) is a game that simulates what it’s like to “be an ad server”.

An ad server is a machine that selects what ad to show whenever there is a place for advertising.

Just like in the real world, the ad server (you) gets notified that a viewer is about to watch a video clip, and the ad server (you) selects which ad the viewer should see. Why? Because that’s how money is made, and the object of the game is to make the most amount of money.

Game Setup

  1. First, count out 20 Ad Requests from the deck (those are the only Ad Requests you will need this game).
  2. Then, draw two Ad Placements.

For each Ad Placement you draw, look at the top two placement cards and keep one. Then put the other card on the bottom of the deck.

Gameplay Overview

The game is played as 20 identical rounds. Each round follows the same steps...

      • Phase 1: Draw some new Placements (if you want)
      • Phase 2: Serve an Ad Placement to the next Ad Request
      • Phase 3: Age your Placement cards
      • Phase 4: Score your completed / expired Placement cards

After all 20 rounds are complete, calculate your final score.

Phase 1: Drawing Placements

At the start of each round, you may draw as many Placement Cards as you want.

You begin the game with 2 Placement Cards, and at the start of each round you can draw as many as you would like. You can take 1 or you can take them all. (taking them all is a legal move, but probably a bad idea)

Remember, when drawing a Placement Card, look at the top two placement cards on the Placements deck and keep one of them.  Put the other Placement Card on the bottom of the Placement deck.

Phase 2: Deliver a Placement to an Ad Request

In the second phase, you are "serving an ad". This is where you choose which Placement Card to deliver to the next Request Card. The steps of doing this are as follows:

    • Reveal the top Ad Request. The ad request has three characteristics to note. These are called the request’s attributes. See "Request Attributes" below.
    • Once you have revealed an Ad Request, you will select an ad from a Placement for that viewer. You can select an ad from the placements in your Active Placements area with targeting criteria that match the Ad Request card's attributes.
        • When you deliver an ad put the Ad Request card behind the Placement Card. This will help you keep track of how many times the Placement Card has "served".
        • If you do not have an active Placement Card that matches the attributes of the Request Card, that's ok (and bound to happen eventually). Place the Ad Request card in the Discard Requests area, and move on with the game.

Phase 3: "Age" your active Placement Cards

Aging your active placement cards is how you keep track of how many rounds a placement has been active for. This is important because most placements have a Duration after which they expire. What happens when a Placement expires is covered in Phase 4, below.

In order to "Age" your active placements, you must update some Age Counter on each Placement with a Duration other than Evergreen.

Updating the Age Counter can be something as simple as adding "+1" to a piece of paper or placing a small stone on the Placement Card to count its "age".  The goal is to account for how many rounds a placement has been active for.  Personally, I like to use dice.

Phase 4: Score your completed / expired Placement cards

At the end of each round, check the status of your Placements Cards to check if they deliver (complete their Budget) or expire (exceed their Duration). There are two times when a Placement Scores.

      • Score your delivered Placement Cards

A Placement Card is "delivered" (completed) if you have a number of Ad Request cards behind it equal to the Placement Card's Budget. If the Placement is completed, move it with its Ad Requests to the Delivered/Scoring area. At the end of the game, you will add points equal to the value of Placement Cards in your scoring area to your score.

      • "Score" your expired Placement Cards

A Placement Card has expired when its Age Counter is greater than its Duration. When a Placement Card expires before it is complete, place it into the Negative Scoring zone and discard its Age Counter. At the end of the game, you will subtract the value of Placement Cards in your Negative Scoring zone from your score.

Scoring the game

After 20 rounds, you will place all active Placement Cards that are not fully delivered into the Negative Scoring zone. This includes any placements that have partially delivered their budget.

Then, your score is the sum of the values of placements in the scoring zone MINUS the sum of all values of the placements in the negative scoring zone.

The attributes

The attributes identify the characteristics of the viewer on the Ad Request Card, and the advertiser's objectives on the Placement Card.

The game has an equal numbers of cards with each attribute in the game.  In other words, there is a 33% chance that any random Ad Request has a specific attribute.

Placement Cards

Placement Cards represent an advertising contract with an advertiser. The details on the card specify the contract details with that advertiser.

    • Value: how much the advertiser will pay you for completing the budget
    • Budget: how many Ad Requests you must deliver this Placement to to get paid
    • Targeting Criteria: the attribute that must be present on the Ad Request for this Placement to be eligible to deliver
    • Duration: the number of rounds before this placement expires.

In this example, the advertiser has agreed to pay you $150 (VALUE) for 3 ad impressions (BUDGET) delivered to "1%ers" (TARGETING CRITERIA) within 10 rounds (DURATION).

Ad Request Cards

Ad Request Cards represent the internet message from the viewer's TV (or device) asking you for ads.

The Ad Request Attributes describe the Viewer

Who: the viewer's demographic

What: the type of show the viewer is watching

Where: the kind of device the viewer is watching on