VAST 4.1 – 5 Things to Know and What it Means for Marketers

VAST 4.1 – 5 Things to Know and What it Means for Marketers

After almost a decade of only minor changes to video ad standards, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) is continuing their efforts to give digital video a much-needed upgrade.

The IAB Tech Lab has recently released details on VAST 4.1 for public comment, which is a noticeable improvement over its predecessor, VAST 4.0.  After generating significant buzz, VAST 4.0 failed to gain much traction with publishers due to a few shortcomings – shortcomings that VAST 4.1 is looking to fix.

What this means for marketers: What is VAST 4.1 and how could it differentiate itself from what digital advertisers are currently using?  Here are five things you need to know:

  1. What Is It: VAST stands for “Video Ad Serving Template.”  Effectively, it is the industry standardized vehicle for sending information between ad servers and a publisher’s video player.  From a media buying perspective, it is the type of tag that we use for video campaigns.
  2. The Need: Many brands and agencies (Harmelin included) still use VAST 2.0 regularly.  When it was released, the goal of VAST 2.0 was to create enough scale to meet the growing demand.  However, this standard was made before most spending had shifted to app and OTT environments.  As such, it lacks several functionalities that are needed in today’s video plans – specifically as it relates to ad verification.
  3. Ad Quality: VAST 4.1 shifts the focus away from scale to instead give brands the ability to better measure ad quality. Ad verification has been growing in importance in recent years.  VAST 4.1 can provide better viewability, fraud and brand safety insights in app environments – which is something sorely needed giving the shifting media trends.
  4. Functionality: Creative executions are more complicated than they were a decade ago.  The potential adoption of this newest version could give more consistency in terms of being able to run overlays, end cards and companions.  In addition to providing that extra layer of interactivity, it also provided more uniformity with the macros included in the tags.  Macros are the piece of code that pass information back to your ad server.  That uniformity could lead to better, more reliable data/insights.
  5. Versatility: Similar to VAST 4.0, this version can run across all digital video environments.  The current tag types (2.0) require additional elements be added to ad tags to measure ad quality or improve interactivity on some devices.  This leads to greater fragmentation and complexity within campaign builds, which can be avoided should there be decent adoption of this newest version of the VAST tag.
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