How Updated IAB Standards Will Relieve Video Ad Headaches

VAST & VPAID updates will eliminate friction

Online video ad spending is expected to grow more than 43% next year, but even rapid adoption and eager ad buyers can’t overcome the complexity of multiple video ad formats. This crazy patchwork quilt of formats has been suffocating video, as the nascent industry leaps ahead of standards.

Luckily, the IAB is about to revise its Video Ad Server Template (VAST) and Video Player Ad Interface Definition (VPAID) standards in a move that will help the industry keep pace with the forecasts for growth.

VAST guidelines were originally established to standardize an ad server’s response, while VPAID defines the interface of advanced in-stream ads. The new versions of these existing standards should clarify inconsistencies in previous iterations and update the standards to keep them in line with industry evolutions.

Better standards will clear out headaches for publishers and advertisers, helping video to grow online. More specifically, better standards will make it much easier for advertisers to reach their branding goals and hasten the move of TV budgets into online video.

The current versions of VAST and VPAID leave room for interpretation. Different companies implement the standards in conflicting fashion, oftentimes creating formats that are not interoperable and causing unnecessary friction in the ecosystem.

The new standards coming in early 2012 will:

  • Support a variety of video ad formats and video codecs 
  • Support TV-like ad rendering (pods with multiple ads back to back) 
  • Add new engagement metrics 
  • Support the emerging online behavioral advertising (OBA) self-regulatory program 

Thanks to these new standards, publishers will be able to receive ads from third parties more easily and without worrying about integration challenges. Buyers will be able to distribute ad tags without worrying that publishers will handle them inappropriately or improperly.

Additional engagement metrics will also help publishers and advertisers better measure user drop-off, as well as user behavior around skippable ads and lean-back, full-screen types of experiences.

One of the most important aspects of the updated standards is that it will help publishers and ad buyers alike capitalize on the emerging platforms that didn’t exist when the first iterations of VAST and VPAID were written. New standards mean publishers can reliably run video and ads across mobile, tablets, and other emerging platforms.

The ability to publish seamless across multiple formats gives ad buyers a wider target for placing their ads. Building in a single industry standard assures advertisers that they can explore new frontiers while getting the same ad serving and tracking needed to measure ROI and campaign success.

Of course video, like display, is becoming increasingly reliant on behavioral targeting, and the new standards will support the emerging industry self-regulation effort. Self policing and consumer transparency are critical parts of online advertising’s growth; if video wants to successfully compete with TV advertising, it can’t afford to lose access to the user information that makes targeted video ad opportunities possible. 

Video spending is expected to continue its meteoric growth, but advertisers will only spend if they can achieve scale across the video landscape. The revised IAB standards should make it much easier for publishers and advertisers to scale video distribution and reach without incurring addition costs or compromising on creative.

This is a huge step toward making video less plain vanilla and more engaging, as well as more efficient and effective. As video standards mature, the result can only be a win-win for the industry.