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Update (4/27/2016): Since the original release of VAST 4.0 on January 21, 2016, we have received additional feedback and made a few corrections. So we have updated and replaced the VAST 4.0 document. The version number remains the same since we have only incorporated changes that do not materially change the specs. The detailed list of corrections is included in Section 7 of the document in the updated VAST 4.0 specification, available here. If you have any questions, please contact Amit Shetty at [email protected].
Download VAST 4.0 (updated version)
VAST is a Video Ad Serving Template for structuring ad tags that serve ads to video players. Using an XML schema, VAST transfers important metadata about an ad from the ad server to a video player. Initially launched in 2008, VAST has since played an important role in the growth of the digital video marketplace.
The early days of video consisted mostly of shared videos and other user-generated content. Success in monetizing this content with ads has produced the resources to improve the digital video marketplace. However, digital video has met a number of challenges along the way.
One challenge is a lack of quality control. Along with the IAB Video Player-Ad Interface Definition (VPAID), VAST can deliver ads programmatically or include ads with complex interactions. If a player isn’t programmed to accept VPAID ads, the ad cannot be executed. Even when the player does accept VPAID ads, performance may be slow and cause latency in load times. In the meantime, the audience experiences a delay or a malfunction in their viewing experience.
Publishers and ad vendors need a way to separate the video file from its interactive components to ensure that ads play in systems that cannot execute the interactive components. These ads should also execute more efficiently in players that are equipped to handle the interactions.
Another challenge, especially for broadcasters who are moving their content online, is the lack of a consistent identifier for creative that is maintained across systems. VAST offers a creative identifier, but it has been used inconsistently and one creative may use different identifiers for every system it passes through. A system-wide identifier is a requirement for broadcasters trying to maintain control over the ads they play.
VAST 4.0 has addressed these challenges along with a few others. As players begin to adopt the updates in VAST 4.0, digital video can expect to see smoother operation and continued growth.
The updates made in VAST 4.0 and the challenges they address are summarized here:
This document was designed for digital video technologists who either develop players that accept digital in-stream ads or for vendors who develop ads to be sent to digital in-stream players.
For engineers, section 3 defines all the VAST XML elements. Section 5 includes a “human- readable” schema for quick reference with links to more details in the document if needed. Section 2 defines VAST compliance and section 4 provides technical tips for migrating to VAST 4.0.
For video executives, the executive summary and section 1 provide high-level explanation of how VAST can be used to streamline digital video ad operations.”
Download the Digital Video Ad Serving Template (VAST) 4.0
Developed by members of the IAB Digital Video Technical Standards Working Group, the revision offers improvements for the delivery and measurement of video advertising, including sophisticated delivery and tracking options for clients, the ability to select ads dynamically for insertion, and a more seamless experience for the viewer.
You can view the previous version on the Video Ad Serving Template here: VAST 3.0
IAB Guide to Digital Video Advertising
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