Exclusive: IAB Tech Lab Publishes Final Version of VAST 4.1 Spec

It’s not just a point upgrade. As the Interactive Advertising Bureau Tech Lab notes in a blog post, VAST 4.1 is more like “the real VAST 4.” That’s because it fixes a major problem with the previous version that made it unusable for many.

IAB Tech Lab VAST 4.1VAST (Video Ad Serving Template) 4.0 didn’t include directions for how verification should work in non-VPAID architecture when the MediaFile node needed to be separated from the executable code. That’s been remedied, and changes have been made so the spec works with Open Measurement.

Other updates include DAAST (Digital Audio Ad Serving Template) being merged in (offering direction when audio ads need different treatment), the inclusion of a basic ad request protocol, and a complete update to the macros section.

For the full list of features, download the final spec from the IAB Tech Lab.

An early draft of VAST 4.1 was released for public comment on June 14, 2018. The IAB Tech Lab has made multiple changes to that early version including no longer deprecating nonlinear ads (since, it turns out, many are still using them), adding a “nonUsed” tracking event for when an ad doesn’t get used, and various fixes to the AdVerifications node.

Speaking of the public comment period, the IAB Tech Lab says it received “an unprecedented amount of feedback” this go-round, which shows a strong interest in getting this version of VAST right. Discussions in the IAB’s Digital Video Technical Standards Working Group led to this final version.

“With VAST 4.1 we are integrating key capabilities that were previously separate (templates, audio, and more) and are providing direction on how digital video ad verification should work—a piece of the puzzle that was missing in VAST 4.0,” says Dennis Buchheim, senior vice president and general manager of the IAB Tech Lab. “We believe that VAST 4.1 combined with Open Measurement will lead to a sea change in video advertising. This was reflected in the incredible amount of feedback we received during the public comment period for 4.1, and we hope will be reflected in the speed of adoption of VAST 4.1 over the next year.”

Next up for the working group is an overhaul of the Video Suite (VSUITE). It’s also creating a replacement for VPAID for interactivity features, which should result in small changes to the upcoming VAST 4.2. But that upcoming release shouldn’t stop anyone from implementing 4.1, the blog post says: “We will ensure that 4.2 is additive as well as backwards compatible, so that 4.1 implementations are not broken.”


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