What are VPAID and VAST?

Because IAB standards are the backbone of the digital ad industry, and you need to understand how they’ve evolved.

What are VPAID and VAST?

1 - What is VAST (Video Ad Serving Template)?

VAST is the IAB standard necessary to serve in-stream video ads. These ads appear in video players which are embedded in a publisher’s website or mobile app. Serving video ads into video players is different than serving them outside of online video content, hence the need for VAST.

What is VAST exactly? VAST allows you to structure scripts that serve advertisements to video players, by sending metadata including commands and instructions on how to broadcast the ad. Information that includes creative files, redirect URLs, and report tracking tools will be transferred as a VAST file from the ad server to the video player that will play the content.

The VAST file is used to define how the ad can be displayed in the video player, the duration of the broadcast, if it can be turned off, and how the video is measured (impressions / clicks / views completed, etc.). ). In addition, VAST defines additional user interaction metrics such as play, pause, skip, mute / activate sound, and click-through rates in full-screen, giving buyers and sellers an image more precisely how videos are viewed. With VAST standards, we can be sure that a video will be played on any video player and that the basic actions of the user will be measured accordingly.

  1. Calling for a request, where the video players call the ad server asking to fetch an ad.
  2. Making a response, where the ad server responds to the video player having the media files along with needed tracking URLs.
  3. Triggering the URLs, where the video player launches the tracking URLs/pixels to allow other parties to start tracking and measuring impressions.

1.1 - How many versions of VAST are there?

The VAST standard was introduced for the first time in 2008 to meet the increase in online video advertising. This compliance aims to facilitate communication between publishers and advertisers.In 2009, the IAB released VAST 2.0, which standardized ad formats and added support for interactive media files.

In 2012, the third version of VAST was released. This version introduced the ability for video players to declare which ad formats they support. 

VAST 4.0 was introduced in order to offer users more transparency. It provides support for server-side ad assembly features tracking, visibility, verification, and performance. 

VAST has evolved enormously over the years:

  • VAST 1.0: supported MP4, 3GP, .MOV, play/stop/pause functionality, and basic event tracking (linear only). Now deprecated.
  • VAST 2.0: supports MP4, 3GP, .MOV, Flash, JavaScript, play/stop/pause functionality, quartile event and player tracking (linear, non-linear, and companion ads).
  • VAST 3.0: supports five ad formats, skippable ads, OBA compliance, and improved error reporting.
  • VAST 4.0: supports separate video and interactive files, mezzanine files, server stitching, viewability, verification, and advanced reporting.
  • VAST 4.1: Nonlinear ads are no longer deprecated, Added a “notUsed” tracking event, Some more fixes were made to the AdVerifications, and Updated to Macros to improve ad request context

2 - What is VPAID (Video Player Ad Interface)?

What is VPAID? VPAID is also a standard developed by the IAB which is known by the acronym Video Player/Ad Interface Definition)

VPAID establishes a common interface between ad units and video players, allowing for a more interactive and richer advertising experience. As a reminder, in-stream ads have two main objectives: 1) to disseminate the video advertising campaigns to Internet users with an enriched advertising experience and 2) to generate a report on user interactions.

In order to achieve both of these objectives, VAST provides a common ad response format for compatible video players. VAST alone cannot provide a rich and interactive experience since it only supports simple in-stream video ad formats. For advertisers, that’s not enough. However, VPAID, in combination with VAST’s overlay capabilities, can offer a significantly improved interactive solution. This is because VPAID is defined as a common communication protocol between video players and ad units. It allows an isolated ad to stream to the publisher’s video content. This permits the ad unit to be enriched with interactive features.


2.1 Why should advertisers pay attention to VPAID?

Advertisers using VPAID can:

  1. Offer ad customization by choosing whether or not the user can click on the ad to deepen the content, choose the time, the place, or simple options such as closing or hiding the ad.
  2. Analyze the ads in more detail and better strategize for improved audience engagement 

With VPAID, advertisers also have much more control over the display of their video campaigns. This standard allows for the diversification of ads and allows VPAID-compliant publishers to sell more video inventory and generate more revenue.

Additional benefits include:

  1. An increase in common video ad delivery technology, so that video publishers can easily accept video ad serving;
  2. Reduction in the cost of creative production by sharing technology specifications;
  3. Reduction of overall integration costs.

3. What’s next? VAST 4.2 and the deprecation of VPAID.

VPAID  is being replaced with a set of more focused standards:

  • The Open Measurement Interface Definition (OMID) for measurement/verification 
  • The Secure Interactive Media Interface Definition (SIMID) for interactivity

In the meantime, VAST 4.2 has been released to support OMID  and SIMID.

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