Much of the online video ad industry is still running VAST 2.0, the audience learned at yesterdays IAB Tech Lab Video Summit in New York City. While there have been successive versions, many of the companies in the online ad ecosystem haven’t seen a reason to upgrade since those versions didn’t address tracking issues. Well VAST 4.1 is here and the IAB Tech Lab is making a major push for adoption.
VAST 4.1 has “amazing new capacities,” explained Pieter Mees, chief technology officer for Zentrick, and it removes the reasons why people didn’t adopt previous versions. One chief advantage is the way it uses macros and APIs. The video player can determine which macros it will support and tell the ad server upfront. The ad server will then respond with the correct information so nothing breaks in the player.
In VAST 4.1, the ad server gets information on the capabilities of the player serving the ad, explained Aron Schatz, director of programmatic solutions for Powerinbox. The server needs to know these capabilities to serve the right ad.
New in VAST 4.1 are two unique IDs, one from the publisher and one from the advertiser. When a client requests an ad, its ID is passed along to the auction. The other ID goes from the publisher to the client when the ad is served. These two consistent IDs help reconcile everything in the chain of requesting and serving an ad. “That’s really big in the industry,” Schatz said. Changes like these will help prevent fraud from occurring and make it easier to convey the context in which an ad will appear.
Coinciding with the Video Summit, the 4A’s (the leading trade organization for marketing agencies) and the ANA (the Association of National Advertisers) issued a joint press release calling for the adoption of VAST 4.1 and Ad-ID standards.
“VAST 4.1 provides the industry with a single solution for ad tracking to replace the older versions of VAST as well as other proprietary processes still being used,” said Bob Liodice, CEO of the ANA. “By adopting VAST 4.1 and Ad-ID, advertisers will be able to streamline media workflows and improve audience measurement.”
The Video Summit also included a discussion of the IAB Tech Lab’s Open Measurement software development kit, which is currently deployed on hundreds of thousands of apps. The OM SDK aims to solve the problem of measuring viewability with one central, lightweight solution, explained Evan Simeone, senior vice president of product management for PubMatic. Previously, ad providers insisted on using their own viewability SDKs, which often led to problems.
While measuring viewability was possible in VAST 4.0 using extension nodes, VAST 4.1 include native support, explained Brad Galiette, Google’s product manager for viewability.
With viewability support now included, many publishers are turning off VPAID support, Galiette said. Google encourages that.
“Google isn’t building anything new on VPAID at this point, and we have no plans to do so in the future,” Galiette asserted. Open Measurement inspires the confidence the industry needs, he said, and provides the platform for broad buy-in within the industry.
“This is a golden time in measurement,” said Saar Paamoni, vice president of product management for DoubleVerity. “When I started, the question was do you go by our numbers or do you go by third-party numbers,” something no one gets value out of. “Multiple SDKs are a nightmare,” he added.