VAST Version 4.0 and the Universal Ad-ID

Since it first launched in 2008, VAST has played an essential role in the growth of the digital video marketplace.

In the early days of video advertising, most shared videos consisted of user-generated content. As technology has developed, success in monetizing this content with ads has produced the resources required to improve the digital video marketplace. That said, the success of digital video ads was not acquired without several challenges along the way.

In this article, we will review those challenges and how VAST 4.0 has addressed them.

Previous VAST Challenges

To start, one of the greatest challenges was in the lack of quality control. That is a big reason why many video publishers have avoided using VAST in the past. It is important to understand that VAST can deliver ads programmatically or may include ads with complex interactions. But, if a video player is not programmed to accept VPAID ads, the ad itself cannot be displayed. Additionally, if the video player does accept VPAID ads, the performance may be lagging and cause excessive loading times. This can result in your viewers experiencing malfunctions or delays during their viewing time.

Both ad vendors and publishers alike need a way to separate the video file itself from the interactive components in order to ensure that ads play smoothly and accurately.

Another challenge, particularly for broadcasters who are moving their content online, is in the shortage of consistent identifiers for creatives that are maintained across multiple systems. Although VAST does offer a creative identifier, it only has the ability to be used inconsistently. Therefore, one creative may use different identifiers for each and every system it passes through. System-wide identifiers are a requirement for broadcasters who are trying to maintain control over the ads they display.

VAST 4.0 updates have addressed these challenges, along with a few others:

  • Server-side Support – The updated VAST 4.0, now supports “ad-stitching”, which is a method for stitching a video content stream to linear video ads and sending them to players with limited capabilities.
  • Mezzanine File – VAST 4.0 features include support for the high-quality, raw mezzanine file.
  • Separate Video File and Interactive File – Updated VAST Tags provide the video file, separate from APIs, and can display more successfully across devices and platforms.
  • Ready-to-serve Files – VAST 4.0 provides three ready-to-serve video files, each at various quality levels, in order to ensure that a linear video ad can always play efficiently.
  • Ad Verification and Viewability Execution – VAST 4.0 offers the ability to designate space for inserting ad verification APIs, therefore enabling a more streamlined process for executing files that are strictly intended for ad verification.
  • Universal Ad ID – The updated version offers a Universal Ad ID feature, specifically to be used for including a creative identifier that is maintained across multiple systems.
  • Conditional Ad Declaration – A new declaration in VAST 4.0 helps publishers prevent and reclaim any potentially lost inventory revenue in programmatic ad delivery.
  • Support for Categories – 4.0 supports ad categories which help video publishers separate competing ad creatives, in turn improving brand safety.
  • New Error Codes – Additional error codes in VAST 4.0 provide more troubleshooting support.
  • Standardized Time Stamp – The new “TIMESTAMP” macro in 4.0 has been formatted and standardized for more consistent, time-sensitive tracking.