What is VAST? – Guide to Digital Video Ad Serving Template

The video content publishing has become the most common thing, and monetization is always a part of the process. Before the VAST, there is no such common protocol to follow for in-stream ads for multiple publishers. There is a great talk about the VAST and how much it is necessary to adopt better standards. Many people don’t know about the VAST and how it means for the video standardization. You need not be a programmer to understand the VAST. The digital video ad spending was growing and the need for the standards was also increased.

What exactly is VAST?

VAST is a Video Ad Serving Template which is a script that provides the information about the video ad to play and how it can be shown and how long it will play and whether the user can skip that particular ad or not.

VAST means Video Ad Serving Template. It provides a generic framework for the embedding of in-stream video ads. It is specifically designed with a generic framework for embedding the in-stream video ads. It facilitates the communication between the video players as well as the video ad players.

It provides better standardization and can be utilized by the advertisers for hosting as well as serving the video ads and also helps in calculation of some impressions.

Publishers can easily serve and track the ads from all the VAST ad servers without the need to integrate the work. VAST did not do anything and will not embed the video on to the web page, and it also doesn’t control the flow of ad execution.

VAST has become an important thing because it allows the video players and the ad servers to speak some similar language and the standards were mean the volume for the publishers for selling to acquire more revenue.

Why VAST Matter?

The main objective behind the VAST is to avoid publisher forcing and to change the video stack just to utilize on various ad servers.

What is changed in VAST?

VAST was developed with the demand of the publishers and advertisers. It allows the players to signal the ad formats they are needed in general. Like linear, linear skippable, etc. It is a problem for the publishers to play a certain type of format and can’t go with other certain types of formats. The IAB developed version 4.0 as the at least update with the present video ad standards.

With VAST the adoption with the publishers and versions become easy, and there are many useful additional features are updated in the newer VAST versions.

The main limitation with the VAST is it unable to support the visibility standards until it was developed for 4.0 versions. A solution was at last found with the cobbling of VPAID with VAST.

What is VPAID?

VPAID is called as a Video player Ad serving Interface Definition which is just a code that runs in the video players. It is the interactive one with good overlay features that viewers can click to know more, and the advertisers like ads trigger a response from the viewers and hence they can measure the effectiveness.

Is VAST and VPAID is for desktop only?

No, it was initially prepared for the pre-mobile, and IAB developed the MRAID version with the standard rich media ads that run on a mobile application which can incorporate the VPAID’s functionality. VPAID is also helpful in providing the advertisers with more information about the activity of ads and their performance with better interaction.

VAST request

When the video player needs to display an ad, it will send an HTTP request that gets by DSP which had the impression to the VAST-compliant ad server to get the Ad which is displayed on the screen.

The VAST request embeds the publisher’s ID and the campaign ID in the standard version of VAST. The request is not a part of the VAST specifications that baits the entry point.

VAST Response

The ad server with a well-standardized XML format response replies. The traditional form of the response contains the different elements. The first type is like links to the ad creative to play in which the VAST did not specify the various formats and the creatives.

The second type is the ad type in which it denotes the linear form of ads play before, during, and after the content of the publishers. When it comes to the nonlinear type of ads, it is like overlay and post-roll type of ads.

The tracking URIs and the pixels must be fired by the concerned player whenever the certain events occur.

What is the Tracking URIs?

In the VAST response, the ad server will provide the player that list with some tracking URIs and the pixels which can be fired whenever there is a certain event occur.

The pixels will be very helpful for the ad servers to keep the track on the current events just like a number of impressions and ads watched and average time watched etc.

This feature address some complex and other technical issues.

Why do some Ad networks prefer VPAID tags Instead of VAST tags?

The majority of the borrowers like to remove the support for the flash and VPAID is a creative tag where you can easily configure to any ad network. That means if a publisher player were capable of playing the creative it would work well. The main support will be utilized with the VPAID tag.

Building an own VAST/VPAID compliant video player

You can use the open source video player framework along with the VAST plugin. But implementation of an effective VAST and VPAID component is a challenging one if you have no prior experience in the similar field.

Many famous players in the market were also doing to have the implemented the VAST issue free. It is just like building your car, and you need to move by learning step by step using the open sources and expert advice.

The video content publishers need to upgrade the video players in order to support the VAST ad response basing on the supporting formats.

Image Source: Visualhunt

Differences between VAST, VPAID, VMAP in Video Advertising

Video Advertising:

Video advertising involves streaming of advertisements such as Mid Page Units (MPUs) with video within them. This concept video advertising has been gaining popularity and few statements amply substantiate the same.

• Video ads accounted for 12.8% of all videos viewed.

• LiveRail (video advertising distributor) places more than 7 billion video ads a month.

The latest trend in video advertising in real-time bidding. IAB (Interactive Advertising Bureau) is the nodal agency to prescribe and develop rules relating to video advertising. IAB proposes 3 types of video ad formats i.e.) linear video ads (ads presented before, in the middle of, or after the video content is consumed), ii) non-linear video ads (that run concurrently with the video content) & iii) companion ads (common text, rich media etc).

Options in Video Advertising:

There are presently 3 options available for video advertising. They are VAST, VPAID & VMAP. Each of them has their own advantages and limitations. Now let’s briefly understand these terms.

VAST -Video Ad Serving Template:

It is the foundational specification offering a structured method for ad servers as well as video players to communicate. It aims to help advertisers to implement their ads across unique publishers. VAST has been able to offer basic ad tracking (providing valuable consumer engagement metrics) such as pause, player expand, resume, and completed play, skip, click, midpoint and player collapse.

VPAID – Video Player Ad Interface Definition:

Compared to VAST, VPAID offers enhanced features allowing advertising create richer and more interactive video experiences. Scalability across consumer devices is another advantage offered by VPAID.

VMAP— Video Multi-Ad Playlist:

The latest release addressing the problems unique to video distribution is VMAP that was released in 2012. VMAP enables the advertiser to decide the number and placement of ad breaks thereby increasing inventory control by the publisher.

Now let’s briefly view the advantages and limitations of each of the above options:

• VAST is a Video Ad Serving Template whereas VPAID is a Video Player AD Serving Interface Definition.

• VAST is a universal specification for serving video ads whereas VPAID helps in establishing a common interface between the video ad and video player.

• VAST only enables video ads to be served across all compliant video players (simple in-stream video ad formats) whereas VPAID helps to provide rich interactivity plus rich interaction, playback, etc. and is much more to VAST.

• VAST enables a common way of serving video ads on video players whereas VPAID enables ad interactivity.

• VAST provides a uniform way for data to be passed from the ad server to video players independent of any technology whereas VPAID offers an API to facilitate increasing complexity in video advertising enabling video players to accept more ads.

• VPAID enables the video player to preload an ad unit before rendering it whereas VAST does not have such feature.

• VAST is a common language which helps in the video player and different ad server communication whereas VPAID communicates between the video player and different ad servers.

Coming to VMAP, it is an XML template designed for publishers who cannot control ad placement within their content. VMAP enables the publisher to define the ad breaks (including the broken timing, number of available breaks & how many are allowed in each break).

After learning briefly about few of video advertising terminologies/standards. It is all the more important to note that these standards are important for scalability and to manage his ads depending on the breaks and also the relevance of the ads for the video that is being streamed.

Difference between VPAID & VAST

VPAID is Video Player Ad-Server Interface Definition whereas VAST stands for Video Ad Serving Template. While both VPAID & VAST are video ad standardization formats developed and implemented by IAB (Interactive Advertising Bureau), there are certain differences between these two developing technologies.

Major Differences

•    VPAID uses the .swf format whereas VAST uses .XML format.

•    VAST is treated just as a script and it consistently advises the video player on handling an ad i.e., the purpose of the ad, the behavior of the ad, duration etc.  VPAID is an advanced version to VAST.  VPAID adds another level to VAST i.e., interactivity.  Interactivity plays a very important role in deciding the effectiveness of the video ad (tracking).  VPAID is able to track the performance of the video ad.

•    VAST is just a common way of serving video ads in in-stream video formats.   VPAID will be able to offer rich ad experience coupled with enhanced viewer analytics.  VPAID definitely score more than VSAT on this issue.

•    VPAID has a facility to enable the video player to preload an ad unit before rendering it whereas VAST lacks this feature and it is a serious lapse on the part of VAST.

•    VPAID through its API is able to increase complexity in video advertising and this enables video players to accept more ads.  This offers more value to advertisers and publishers.   VAST, on the other hand, is able to provide uniform way data transmission from ad server to video players.

•    VPAID helps in better communication between the video player and different ad services. VAST is a common language that helps the ad server to serve ads with an ease.  VAST has the capability to ensure that ad is served irrespective of whether the ad is served via DFP, DCM, or any other ad server.

Difference between VCR or VTR, VAST, VPAID

The view-through rate is also known as a Video completion rate. Which is used to measure the post impressions response, or we can say as the display of media impressions that view in an online advertising campaign. These can express in the in site visits, on-site events, and conversions, etc. the VTR can be calculated by the product of hundred with a view through my impressions. It is related to the click-through rate measure also but a bit different from the measurement of response. The time frame of the ad exposure to the response was referred to as the view through timeframe.

When it comes to the difference between the VPAID and VAST, the Vpaid is a definition of video player interface, which is an Ad serving one, Whereas the VAST is a template of the video Ad serving. The Vpaid helps in accessing and as well as the establishment of the interface that is common for the video player as well as to the video player. In contrast, the VAST specification was developed by the IAB to serve video ads. It also enables the ads that can be served across the compliant video players too as it supports the in-stream video ad formats.

The VPAID allows the interactivity with good playback as VAST alone cannot able to do. It also enables the interactivity of the ads. The VAST allows a common way to serve the video ads on players along with the correct way of passing the data from servers of the ad to the video players, and the VAST does not have that feature.

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