How to test an ad on the site without visitors seeing it

Testing banners before you show them to site visitorsI received an e-mail from Mark, with this question:

We would like to be able to test new banners in Revive Adserver and see them on the website to make sure that they work. That would enable us to verify that the ads (often Flash ads) do not interfere with other Flash content on the pages. However, until we have completed our checks, we don’t want the visitors of the site to see them yet. Is there a way to do this?

Here is the reply I sent to Mark:

This is not at all difficult, it involves making use of the targeting feature in Revive Adserver to ensure the ad will only be visible to you. There are actually multiple ways to do this, including:

  • You could look up the IP address of the internet connection at your office and use that to target the ad to be displayed only at that IP address;
  • You could setup the ad so that it is displayed when some word or phrase is present in the URL of the website, and then add this phrase to your web address for testing purposes.

Personally, I prefer the second option, because it means I can use it anywhere, without having to look up the IP address of the location that I or others that I collaborate with happen to be working at.

Preparing the banners in a campaign for testing

To prepare the banners for testing, just create the campaign and the banners like you would normally do, and then go to the “Delivery Options” tab of the banner to add a new targeting rule:

Tabs for a banner in Revive Adserver

Then, use the “Add delivery limitation” drop down and select “Site – Page URL”:

Add a Site - Page URL delivery limitation

Add a Site – Page URL delivery limitation

Click the “Add” and then fill out the form as follows:

Add a delivery limitation for a partial web page URL

Add a delivery limitation for a partial web page URL

It doesn’t really matter what the phrase is that you use here, the only requirement is that the phrase is unlikely or impossible to be part of a real page URL on the site.

Don’t forget to save the changes!

If your campaign has multiple banners, you can copy this delivery limitation to the other banners in one click, by using the “Actions” button:

Apply the delivery limitations on a banner to other banners

Apply the delivery limitations on a banner to other banners

Once you’ve completed this, you can link the campaign to the relevant zones just like you’re used to.

Testing the banners on the site

Now that you’ve prepared the campaign for testing, it’s time to test the banners on the live site. This is the easy part. Just open your browser and go to the web page address where the banners should be displayed. Let’s assume here that you’re working on the home page of a website at www.example.com.

Now, in the address bar of your browser, add a parameter to the URL that matches the phrase you’ve used for the Page URL delivery limitations:

Web page address with testing phrase added

Web page address with testing phrase added

You may have to refresh the page a couple of times if there are other campaigns that are active on the same zones on this web page, but eventually you should see the banners of the campaign you’re testing.

Once you’ve made sure the banners work well, you can simply go back to the delivery limitations tabof the banners being tested and remove the temporary delivery limitations. To do that, simply click the red ‘cross’ symbol to the right of the delivery limitations, and then save the changes on the page.