Video advertisements are more popular than ever as the rewards can be high for publishers and advertisers considering the move towards the consumption of video on multiple screens.
Reason enough to get familiarity with video players’ technical capabilities and taking a look at IAB digital video suite that comprises of VAST, Video Player-Ad Interface Definition (VPAID) and Video Multiple Ad Playlist (VMAP) protocols, that streamline the process of video ad serving. The three specifications ensure that ads, ad servers, and video players can communicate seamlessly and effectively.
VAST was the first of the three standards to be created and is considered the global video ad standard. Using an XML schema, VAST transfers important metadata about an ad from the ad server to a video player, permitting ad servers to use a single ad response format across multiple compliant devices. Most ad servers and video players have adopted the protocol, and it has played a key role in the development of the digital video marketplace.
VAST structures scripts that serve advertisements to video players, sending metadata about the way how to serve an ad. The information, which consists of creative files, click-through URLs and reporting trackers, among other data, is sent in the form of a VAST file (XML document) from the ad server to the video player, which then plays back the content. The commands and instructions command how the video player should handle an ad, including how it’s displayed in the player or how long it should play and whether or not it’s skippable. Besides, it defines how the video is measured in terms of impressions and clicks as well as tracking points such as completed views. VAST gives, for example, media agencies and publishers the opportunity to define the price of video inventory using cost-per-completed-view (CPCV). In a nutshell, it helps you to make sure that your video will play on any video player and that elementary user actions will be measured accordingly.
Initially launched in 2008, VAST has since played an important role in the growth of the digital video industry. However, updates are slow. Just nine months ago, the IAB has released VAST 4.0, its new video ad-serving template that aims to ensure smooth communication between video players and ad servers by making multiple improvements in delivery and measurement.
However, some critics say, there is still no official IAB metric in 4.0 to categorize inventory as viewable, and the new template still doesn’t establish industrywide viewability standards, so that advertisers still have to develop their own custom elements if they want to track performance of their ad delivery. Another complaint is that 4.0 still doesn’t give publishers an automated way to track inventory viewability, inject video ads from VAST on the server side, or track server-side ad delivery. Others point out that since YouTube and Facebook video ads remain largely unaffected by the new standard, as both publishers control most of the ad delivery chain for their inventory and aren’t tied to VAST – the protocol can’t be called ‘universal’.