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VAST 4.0 in Australia: What You Need To Know

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Digital video has seen explosive growth over the past five years, achieving in Australia a 55 percent YOY growth in Financial Year 2016 to make up $600 million of the nation’s total digital advertising expenditure. Globally, digital video is tipped to make up 80% of all internet traffic by 2018, facilitated by technological improvements, increased viewing options across a wider range of devices and better content available online from both streaming services and traditional broadcasters – which has been spurred by content publishers finding avenues to better monetize their content.

The IAB Tech Lab in the U.S. published the Digital Video Ad Serving Template (VAST) 4.0 in January 2016 with the aim of helping publishers monetize long-form video content through improved delivery and measurement of digital video advertising. (See the webinar below.)


A brief history of VAST and IAB Video Advertising standards:

The Digital Video Ad Serving Template (VAST) was originally introduced in 2008 to address and facilitate the growth of online video advertising. As technology and consumption models evolve, the IAB has made updates to VAST to improve this ecosystem. In 2009, VAST 2.0 standardized some of the ad formats and added support for interactive media files. In 2012, VAST 3.0 introduced skippable ads, ad pods, in-ad privacy notices, and better tracking. (The IAB also has been working with the industry to roll out other standards such as VPAID and VMAP.)

VAST 4.0

The proliferation of devices and screen sizes has resulted in a new set of challenges to provide users the best possible video experience. Many devices are not capable of running advanced scripts and have limitations on supporting good tracking and measurement. Bandwidth issues result in suboptimal experiences when switching between content and ads. To improve this experience, the use of ad-stitching services has grown where ads are dynamically inserted into the stream of content sent to the player. VAST 4.0 includes support for server-side ad-stitching features around tracking, viewability, verification and performance. 

VAST 4.0 has been developed to address these problems, and after carefully analysis by the IAB Australia’s Technology Council, has been deemed appropriate for the local market. The IAB is now taking public Comment on VAST 4.0 (email your comments to iabaustralia@iabaustralia.com.au). Whilst the VAST 4.0 documentation covers in-depth all aspects of the delivery mechanism for digital video, ad format guidelines are covered in the accompanying Digital Video In-Stream Ad Format Guidelines (October 2016). Together these documents (both open for public comment) represent the latest updates for digital video in the Austalian market.

Some of the highlights of VAST 4.0 are:

  • Server-side Support – VAST 4.0 supports “ad-stitching” or providing linear video ads in a stream to players with limited capabilities using server-to-server methods.
  • Mezzanine File and Creative ID – Enabling advertising across video platforms that include long-form content, high-resolution screens, and advertiser requirements for tracking ad creative, VAST 4.0 includes support for raw, high-quality mezzanine files, and international creative ID programs.
  • Ad Verification and Viewability Execution – VAST 4.0 contains a light-script object to simplify ad verification using VAST instead of complicating VPAID use and interfering with the video viewing experience.
  • Category Support – The introduction of ad categories will allow video publishers to separate competing ad creatives and to improve brand safety.
  • Conditional Ad Declaration – A declaration in VAST for a conditional ad helps publishers prevent and reclaim any potentially lost inventory revenue in programmatic ad delivery.

These advancements are advantageous a for publishers and partners throughout the online video landscape and are intended to provide a better consumer experience.

In February 2016, the IAB Tech Lab in the U.S. and members of the Digital Video (DV) Technical Standards Working Group hosted a live webinar for IAB members and industry professionals to learn about the revised specifications. The panelists discussed what went into developing VAST 4.0, the challenges it solves, and ways companies in the online video ecosystem can adopt 4.0. The recording of the webinar includes all discussions and Q&A.

Watch the YouTube Webinar on VAST 4.0

If you have any questions or suggestions regarding VAST 4.0, please email your comments to iabaustralia@iabaustralia.com.au.


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Guest Friday, 21 October 2016