VAST 2.0 was finally released last month after few months of hard team work by the Digital Video Committee (DVC) at the IAB.
Although VAST 1.0 provided a solid ground for the industry to run in-stream ads in a consistent and scalable manner it wasnâ€™t comprehensive enough to support the different business needs and possible campaign scenarios. In addition, VAST 1.0 wasnâ€™t always clear from technical perspective as developers were sometimes confused regarding the proper implementation of the VAST.
Realizing the business needs and technical ambiguity, the DVC decided to release a new version of the VAST. Initially planned to be a short list of enhancements, VAST 2.0 ended up as a major upgrade with some significant (non backwards compatible) changes. It is always better to avoid significant, let alone non backwards compatible, changes when it comes to industry technology standards, however in this case it was inevitable. Had they not been handled, the issues with VAST 1.0 would have blocked further adoption of the VAST by publishers and technology vendors which would mean the end of the show for the IABâ€™s in-stream advertising standardization efforts.
Without getting into too many details â€“ the main benefit with the VAST 2.0 is its ability to provide enough flexibility to support the future and current business needs of the industry while still providing a clear framework from a technical perspective. With the VAST 2.0 everyone should benefit â€“ publishers that sell in-stream inventory, agencies that buy media and technology vendors that facilitate the business between publishers and agencies.
Here are two examples of the improvements in VAST 2.0:
1. Support for complex placements that go beyond the simple pre-roll. As the in-stream advertising space evolves, we should expect a growth in the demand for placements which consist of a combination of linear units (e.g. pre-rolls), non linear units (e.g. overlays) and companions units. These types of placements can be priced in multiple ways and the VAST 2.0 will be able to support the different pricing models.
2. Tracking specific creative elements â€“ one of the most important things for agencies are tracking capabilities and these are especially crucial when it comes to complex in-stream placements. VAST 2.0 will allow tracking below the ad level and verify that each creative element (e.g. linear unit, non-linear unit) is properly served.
Serving as a member of the VAST work group, it was impressive to see a group of competitors coming together (again) and working hard hand in hand to solve mutual key problems. I witnessed the strong commitment of all the leading industry players to both the VAST and the in-stream advertising technology standardization in general. The industry definitely has lots of faith in the VAST (and VPAID) and there is good reason to believe that we are on the right (and fast) track to scale the in-stream advertising space.
Now that we have VAST 2.0 there are no more excuses. The industry must step forward and adopt the VAST (and VPAID) if we want to see more ad dollars spent by advertisers. I, for one, have already adopted it.
Ronnie Lavi | Senior Manager, Product Planning