Digital Video Player-Ad Interface Definition (VPAID) 2.0

Released April 2012

As you review this specification, you will note several places where this document refers to “VAST v3.0”. Please note that VAST v3.0 is in the final stages of completion and will be available for public comment soon. You should take no reliance or action on this draft specification. Please wait for the final specification to be published.

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Executive Summary
The IAB’s Video Player Ad-Serving Interface Definition (VPAID) establishes a common interface between video players and ad units, enabling a rich interactive in-stream ad experience.

In-stream video advertisers have two important execution goals for the delivery of their video ad campaigns: a) provide viewers a rich ad experience, and b) capture ad playback and user-interaction details that report on the viewed ad experience. To achieve these goals in a world without common video player functionality, advertisers would have to develop multiple specialized versions of their ad creative for every unique video player—an expensive proposition that doesn’t scale well.

The Video Ad-Serving Template (VAST), another IAB specification, provides a common ad response format for video players that enables video ads to be served across all compliant video players. However, VAST alone does not provide support for rich interactivity. VAST alone only supports relatively simple in-stream video ad formats that are not executable. These simple ad formats do not provide an interactive user experience, and do not allow the advertiser to collect rich interaction details.

Layering VPAID onto VAST offers an enhanced solution. VPAID establishes a common communication protocol between video players and ad units that allows a single “executable ad” (one that requires software logic to be executed as part of ad playback) to be displayed in-stream with the publisher’s video content, in any compliant video player. Furthermore, it enables the executable ad unit to expect and rely upon a common set of functionality from the video player. VPAID enables the video player to expect and rely upon a common set of functionality from the executable ad unit. The significance is that advertisers using VPAID ads can provide rich ad experiences for viewers and collect ad playback and interaction details that are just as rich as the ad experience.

With the adoption of VPAID, advertisers have more control over the display experience in their video campaigns. Also, as VPAID compliant video players enable a more diverse and interactive set of video advertising, VPAID compliant publishers should expect to sell more instream video inventory.

With VPAID, the IAB aims to address the following market inefficiencies for publishers, advertisers, and vendors by:

  • Increasing common video ad supply technology so that video publishers can readily accept video ad serving from agency ad servers and networks;
  • Providing common technology specifications for advertisers to develop against, thereby decreasing the cost of creative production and thus increasing business ROI;
  • Improving video ad supply liquidity, thus decreasing the cost of integration with each publisher.

To improve the interactive ad experience in video players, publishers should build their video players to the VPAID specifications outlined in this document. These 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.