Digital Video Ad Serving Template (VAST) 3.0
Released July 2012
The IAB Digital Video Ad Serving Template (VAST) specification is a universal XML schema for serving ads to digital video players, and describes expected video player behavior when executing VAST-formatted ad responses. VAST 3.0 adds critical functionality that opens up the in-stream digital video advertising marketplace, reducing expensive technical barriers and encouraging advertisers to increase video ad spend.
For the latest release of VAST, please visit: VAST 4.0
As online video content publishing has become more common, video publishers have sought to monetize their content with in‐stream video advertising. Before VAST, there was not a common in-stream advertising protocol for video players, which made scalable distribution of ads impossible for ad servers. In order to serve ads to multiple publishers using disparate proprietary video players, ad-serving organizations had to develop slightly different ad responses for every publisher/video player targeted. This approach was expensive and didn’t easily scale.
VAST provides a common protocol that enables ad servers to use a single ad response format across multiple publishers/video players. In 2008, the IAB introduced the first version of VAST to the video advertising marketplace, which has since been widely adopted throughout the industry. In 2009 features were added that enabled additional functionality and more clarity. Today, as the in‐stream digital video advertising market becomes more sophisticated, additional features and functionality are required to improve support for in-‐stream ad display and reporting.
VAST 3.0 provides more features, increased functionality and better reporting, while maintaining backward compatibility with VAST 2.0 to ensure a smooth transition for the industry. VAST 3.0 provides additional detail for the ad response format and the expected behavior of video players.
With VAST 3.0, video players now have the ability to declare which ad formats they support. Five formats are provided as options: Linear Ads, NonLinear Ads, Skippable Linear Ads, Linear Ads with Companions, and Ad Pods (a sequenced group of ads). Skippable Linear Ads and Ad Pods are new formats offered with this release. Some video players choose to only support certain VAST ad formats in accordance with their publishing business model. With VAST 3.0, the guesswork of which VAST ad format a player supports is eliminated.
Video content publishers should upgrade their video players to support VAST 3.0 ad responses according to the ad formats they support. These video players should also adhere to the expected behaviors defined in this document. Additionally, ad-serving organizations should ensure that their VAST 3.0 ad responses are well formatted and adhere to the specifications outlined in this document.
As with all IAB guidelines and specifications, this document will be updated as in‐stream video advertising progresses and new ad formats become more widely adopted.
Download the VAST 3.0 XSD (.zip)
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