IAB Proposes Digital Video Ad Serving Standards

  |  August 1, 2008   |  Comments

"Digital Video Ad Serving Template" aims to tear down Tower of Babel in video ad serving space.

The Interactive Advertising Bureau released a proposed "Digital Video Ad Serving Template" (VAST) it says will standardize communications in the video ad serving space.

The easier-to-understand reason for the effort: helping publishers make more money from video ad sales.

"It should open up the marketplace to a broader spectrum of companies," said Jeremy Fain, senior director of industry services at IAB. He also said the proposed protocol will allow publishers to "plug-and-play" third-party ad servers while agencies will be able to track and serve their video ads from a single place.

According to the IAB, VAST will enable the creation of digital video players and video ad servers that have uniform interfaces "and speak the same standard language." The efficiency gained by using such a standard, for publishers, is the fact that they will be able to seamlessly interface with any video ad servers and networks using the VAST protocol.

The IAB says the VAST document defines a standard ad response for in-stream video, provides specifications compatible with any video player framework, contains guidance for most on-demand video players and includes accommodations for both linear video and interactive ads, such as pre-rolls, and non-linear ads including clickable overlays.

VAST is the brainchild of the IAB's Digital Video Committee, which is made up of more than 145 companies, said Fain. He said creating the proposed protocol involved clearing some difficult hurdles.

"It took us awhile to really get the standard to where we thought it was ready for the public because there are already a large number of very complicated interactions between ad players, video content and video ads," said Fain. He said the many different types of ads already available in ad players complicated the process. The IAB wanted to be sure VAST would cover the majority of the most popular linear and non linear ads

"It really enables further standardization through the back-end, versus the sales product end," said Fain. "This is really a back-end efficiency initiative which will enable more sales."

A public comment period will last until September 10. The proposed protocol can be seen on the IAB's site. Feedback will be reviewed by the IAB before the document is finalized and publicly released.

Fain said VAST will standardize protocol but will not adversely impact video ad innovation. "Our goal is to use this to standardize the communication of the most common ad formats but also allow vendors with custom formats to add on to this standard as long as they are using the same frameworks," he explained.

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