VAST 4.x
VAST 4.x

Collaboratively enabling digital video advertising for the future

Software upgrades on devices such as mobile phones are not obligatory per se, they can still run on older software versions. It’s simply a standard recommendation that such devices should always run at the most optimal levels of efficiency and effectiveness. Otherwise - one may be unable to utilise newer functionalities and capabilities, or else be unable to run certain applications.

Additionally, and far worse is that it puts users at a much higher risk of being hacked, exposed to malware and their personal data put at risk.

Essentially it’s the same situation with our industry’s core video ad serving standards. The entire marketplace continuously lags behind the most up-to-date templates used for ad-serving video, known as VAST (Video Ad-Serving Template). Currently the IAB Tech Lab’s latest released version is 4.2 - however most are on v3 and many are still on v2, which is now 9 years old.

However, there has been good reason for this rather slack attitude historically to be fair. Older version upgrades have only resulted in minimal improvements and hence the collaborative industry push to stay current with these video standards has been fairly toothless and the technical and product work required deprioritised.

We are now at a stage with the latest versions of version 4 that demand genuine attention, a community-based push for both buyers and sellers to aggressively adopt and for all vendors to prioritise this work in their roadmaps. It’s best to simply think of all the involved and combined elements as the most recent version of VAST 4.x and then coherently make the case for upgrading based upon the benefits.

“With growth in video outpacing all other digital formats we can’t afford to let the technology that underpins our ability to purchase inventory lag behind.” Jodi Fraser, Commercial Director, Publicis Media

What are core constituents of VAST 4.x?

VAST now enables both ad delivery and essential video interactivity. The Open Measurement Interface Definition (OMID) and Open Measurement (OM) SDK for mobile gives buyers access to multiple verification vendors via one single integration. SIMID is now the solution for buyers that want to bring in more creative interactive elements, replacing VPAID.

  • VAST - exists for the delivery of video advertising. Describes the video ad, beacons, and where to download the various critical assets such as media files, verification scripts and interactive scripts. 
  • OMID - exists for measurement and viewability, supported by Open Measurement SDK for actual implementation.
  • SIMID - exists solely for interactivity.

What are the main benefits of VAST 4.x?

The core benefits are listed below. For more information please see the product summary document attached at the bottom of this page for IAB Australia members.

  • Publishers and buyers can improve workflows by saving time and technical implementation via standardized macro-based ad requests, enabling all video players to more easily render and run ads without any errors.
  • Much improved support for mobile and OTT platforms.
  • The depreciation of VPAID and associated issues related to vulnerabilities, negative user experiences and repeatedly poor fill rates.
  • Audio standards are now combined, with the inclusion of Digital Audio Ad Serving Template (DAAST).

Why do we need to kill-off VPAID and why now?

VPAID is essentially a hack, released by the IAB in 2012 in order to enable interactivity – but it has now run out of control. Relentless issues related to latency, endless creative failures and multiple redirects are resulting in the worst possible scenario of both negative user experiences and repeatedly poor fill rates.

In addition to this, huge opportunities for digital advertising exist and will continue to grow on mobile and OTT platforms, which VPAID cannot support. Hence we must look now to standardise, enable and plan for the future as an industry with seamless, measurable video advertising running within all environments.

“We have been talking about the necessary sun-setting of VPAID for a while. With the unprecedented growth we are seeing on 7Plus and in particular on connected televisions, it has become urgent to find a sustainable solution. VAST 4.x brings the long waited standards around tracking video viewability without VPAID. It will also improve the consumer experience across all devices and in particular on Connected Televisions. This is a critical step in making digital video a more mature ecosystem and we are fully committed to helping the industry embrace VAST 4.x Jonathan Munschi, Head of Digital Sales (Sydney), Seven Network

A collaborative industry showing leadership through action, not just words

It’s time for the industry to take leadership role by planning ahead collaboratively and driving a community-based approach to expediting the roll-out of VAST 4.x in Australia.

Through enabling the best practices in video advertising delivery now we can build for the future success and growth of a critical part of the industry. It’s about everyone investing their time and efforts in the short term for greater benefits in the longer term.

“From our supply-side perspective, VAST 4 will help relieve a lot of issues we see from misuse in the market of VPAID. More importantly in premium long-form video environments such as CTV the introduction of the mezzanine file will mean that the quality of the ad will always be suitable for the size of the screen it is being displayed on. By solving these issues we’ll see an uplift in successfully delivered impressions and a better quality user experience across all types of supply.” James Young, General Manager, Telaria

With that in mind, we’ve worked with Amit Shetty at IAB Tech Lab to provide a simpler product summary of the specs (this is the product summary document attached at the bottom of this page for IAB Australia members). This outlines how we wish to take a phased approach to the roll-out of VAST 4.x here in Australia and provides much more information in order to help support this.

In summary, the suggested approach here is for:

  • Technical vendors to expedite the work required on their engineering roadmaps
  • Publishers to commit to the proposed phased roll-out and start testing video supply with their vendors
  • Buyers to commit to the proposed phased roll-out and testing buying from those publishers that have upgraded
  • Relevant specialist members to replicate these tests in audio, as a separate stream

We can then look to the dedicated IAB Australia VAST Working Group to work closely with IAB Tech Lab and update the Australian market on progress and agree upon timelines, a date for full adoption and ultimately the depreciation of VPAID.

The current active members of the dedicated Australian working group are Seven, Nine, GroupM, News, Southern Cross Austereo, Telaria, Publicis Media, Verizon Media, Triton Digital and Xandr.

For more information on these standards or anything else related to VAST please see the links below - or else email Jonas Jaanimagi at jonas@iabaustralia.com.au

Latest VAST specs:
https://iabtechlab.com/standards/vast/ 

Information on SIMID:
https://iabtechlab.com/simid/

Information on OMID and OMSDK:
https://iabtechlab.com/standards/open-measurement-sdk/

Related blog piece from IAB Tech Lab:
https://iabtechlab.com/blog/iab-tech-lab-releases-final-version-of-vast-4-1/

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