Have the IAB’s New Standards on Video Advertising Gone Far Enough?

Sorosh Tavakoli, CEO of Videoplaza Last month, the IAB released its new suite of standards for video advertising: the IAB Video Suite. The Video Suite updates the existing VAST and VPAID advertising standards to address past technical limitations and to ensure users enjoy consistently high quality experiences all devices. Here Sorosh Tavakoli, CEO of Videoplaza, a sell-side ad management platform, questions whether the updates propel the industry in the right direction, are they far-reaching enough, and what do they really mean for publishers?

Video advertising is going from strength to strength. Last year we enjoyed the largest boom in internet advertising in five years as online and mobile advertising leapt by 14.4% in the UK alone according to the IAB. Video was at the forefront of this growth with the market doubling in size year on year.

One of the drivers of that growth has been video consumption across explosive non-PC connected devices, of which there will be 10 billion in use by 2020. There’s pressure to deliver high-quality video advertising experiences across all platforms, and to go beyond the traditional pre, mid and postroll formats to take advantage of the new opportunities in more interactive advertising.

As technology develops, standards are needed to help the ecosystem work together. Ultimately, they mean better user experiences for consumers, and stronger incentives for creative agencies to develop dazzling next-generation ads.

VAST and VPAID Explained

So, what does the Video Suite contain? Both the existing Video Ad-Serving Template (VAST) and Video Player-Ad Interface Definition (VPAID) protocols have been upgraded to offer more value for publishers.

VAST – which enables ad servers to use a single ad response format across multiple players – has been stepped up to support more device codecs, underscoring the growth in connected devices.

The VPAID protocol – designed to enable rich ad experiences and detailed event reporting for advertisers – is now platform-agnostic rather than Flash-focused – great news for publishers who want to make money from content across a range of devices and technologies.

A new protocol has also been introduced – Video Multiple Ad Playlist (VMAP) – which finally adds a crucial understanding of time to the ad-serving template. Video has a start and end point, and publishers need to insert ad breaks into content at the right time. VMAP allows content owners to specify the position of ad breaks in content when played in third party video players or content distribution outlets.

Still Work To Do

While the upgrades are welcome, there is still room for improvement. The IAB has stepped up its support for multi-screen advertising with Video Suite, but each ad still needs to be tailored per individual device targeted. And because of the backwards compatibility of VAST 3.0 with VAST 2.0, some of the problems of its previous iteration will reoccur with the Video Suite. However, ad management companies experienced in dealing with VAST will be able to help publishers resolve these problems.

Swift Take Up Will Help Publishers Stay Ahead

The launch of Video Suite means nothing without adoption. Although the announcement originally came from IAB US, other markets will also adopt the standards over the coming year. We expect markets such as the UK to be particularly fast in driving adoption. In some markets, where users are still working on VAST 1.0, adoption may occur more slowly.

However, the outlook for the future is looking positive. The IAB plan to update the standards much faster in future and it’s reassuring to know that we won’t have to wait two years for the next release. With the continued momentum of multi-screen content consumption, the IAB, publishers, and service providers should work together to drive the adoption and progress of standards.

Ultimately, publishers need to gear up fast: as the competition adopts standardisation, a publisher’s ability to deliver and control consistent, sophisticated ad experiences will determine whether you lead the race or get left behind.

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