The IAB Video Multiple Ad Playlist (VMAP) specification is an XML template that video content owners can use to describe the structure for ad inventory insertion when they don’t control the video player or the content distribution outlet.
In order to effectively monetize video content with in-stream insertion advertising, video content owners must carefully manage the structure and use of ad inventory opportunities available within their content. When the content owner controls the content distribution outlet, the content owner can easily manage ad placement within the content they play. However, when the video content airs in a video player that they do not control (such as when the content is syndicated using a video aggregation service), managing ad placement becomes complicated.
Business arrangements between the video content owner and a distribution outlet may grant the owner the right to manage its video ad inventory, but without control of the video player or the distribution outlet, the video content owner is effectively prevented from exercising this right.
Content owners and distribution outlets have looked to the IAB Video Ad Serving Template (VAST) to help solve this problem. While VAST 3.0 provides some additional controls over the use of video ad inventory (such as support for ad pods), it lacks the ability to define ad breaks or the timing of those ad breaks within the video content entertainment timeline.
With VMAP, video content owners can exercise control over the ad inventory displayed in their content when they can’t control the video player, to capitalize on advertising while maintaining the integrity of their program content. VMAP enables the content owner to define the ad breaks within their content, including the timing for each break, how many breaks are available, what type of ads and how many are allowed in each break.
What VMAP cannot do is define the ads themselves. VMAP was designed to accept VAST 3.0 ad responses to fill ad breaks, but can also accept ad responses in other formats. VMAP is complementary to VAST and only useful in cases where content owners have no control over the video players, but have rights to control the advertising experiences within their content.
Video players that support VMAP provide a mechanism to honor business agreements that give advertising control to video content owners. VMAP specifications were defined with creativity and innovation in mind and should not limit video player design. As with all IAB guidelines and specifications, this document will be updated as video advertising progresses and new ad formats become more widely adopted.