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IAB Updates, Standardizes Web Video Measurement And Delivery

Published on April 11, 2012

The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) has released the first comprehensive update to its in-stream video advertising standards since 2008. Its “IAB Video Suite” of new and updated specifications is designed to deliver a variety of enhanced video advertising experiences while simplifying technical execution, said IAB in a release.

The upshot is standardization, reports Adweek. “The problem has become acute for Web video,” it said. And as video is consumed in more places on the Web, “it's that much harder to buy—since every publisher seems to use different technology and different tactics for delivering Web video ads.” A benefit to consumers, if not advertisers, is that the suite includes protocols for skippable ads. Or as Adweek describes, “You won’t see that beer ad 10 times in a row.”

IAB spent more than a year crafting the suite in an open forum with leaders from over 45 member companies in IAB’s Digital Video Committee. The new specs include critical updates to its key specs – VAST and VPAID – and the establishment of a new protocol, VMAP. 

The suite’s three specs are devised to work together as part of a thorough video advertising offering:

  • Video Ad-Serving Template (VAST) – a universal protocol for serving in-stream video ads, permitting ad servers to use a single ad response format across multiple compliant publishers/video players
  • Video Player-Ad Interface Definition (VPAID) – a common communication protocol between ad units and video players that enables rich ad experiences and detailed event reporting back to advertisers
  • Video Multiple Ad Playlist (VMAP) – a new protocol that allows content owners to describe where ad breaks should be placed in their content when they do not control the video player or the content distribution outlet
  • “These specs help creativity flourish by making it easier for companies to buy and sell video ad inventory while allowing marketers to deliver in-stream interactive video ads with the confidence that consumers will always receive a consistent viewing experience across different media players,” said Steve Sullivan, Vice President, Ad Technology, IAB.

VAST 3.0, VPAID 2.0, and VMAP 1.0 offer a range of benefits to advertisers, publishers, and consumers. Advancements include:

  • Support for “skippable” video ads that allow for publisher pricing models based on ads that play to completion
  • Support for “pods” of multiple ads to be displayed in a single ad break, allowing for the creation of viewing experiences similar to broadcast television
  • Support for the display of in-ad privacy notices recommended by the Digital Advertising Alliance Self-Regulation Program for Online Behavioral Advertising
  • Ability for a single ad to play seamlessly across different devices including iOS and Android mobile devices, as well as certain connected television platforms
  • Clarity surrounding compliance, while permitting vendors to support only the ad formats they use

Google for one is delighted with the updates, saying on its DoubleClick blog “We’ve been longtime supporters of video advertising standards. We’re happy to announce our support for the latest set of guidelines announced at the IAB’s Digital Video Marketplace Event today. This means that we’ll be implementing VAST 3.0, VPAID 2.0 and VMAP 1.0 across our video advertising products.”

So is Adap.tv, and its Vice President of Product Ted Grenager  served as co-chair of the IAB Digital Video Committee Technical Standards Working Group. “All of us on the Working Group collaborated closely with the IAB team with one goal in mind–the expansion of the digital video advertising marketplace. Now, with these new specs in place, I think we will increasingly see advertisers using them to create innovative new ad experiences for consumers, and distribute and measure them across partners and devices.”

If skippable ads seem like a downer for advertisers, Payam Shodjai, product manager of Google/YouTube believes it will “[incentivize] creative agencies to develop more engaging ads.”