Online video advertising has grown rapidly over the past few years – with no signs of abating. Users spend an increasing amount of time-consuming digital video content across devices, and advertisers are following suit. Total digital video ad spend in 2018 saw a 34.8% year-on-year increase, according to a recent report by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB). (1)
This trend is having an impact throughout the ecosystem. Content producers are creating engaging video content in line with growing demand which, in turn, is creating a robust, scaled advertising environment. It is in publishers’ best interest to capitalize on this growth trend by providing an optimal viewable environment – resulting in higher CPMs, while agencies will continue to focus on protecting brand reputation – blocking impressions that are determined non-brand safe. These requirements will pose challenges in certain markets that are not able to employ the Video Player-Ad Interface Definition (“VPAID”) standard; new technologies are required to overcome these challenges and qualify more inventory for measurement, to the benefit of all involved parties.
Certain publishers continue to use Digital Video Ad Serving Template (“VAST”) 2.0, a 10-year-old standard that incurs many limitations. VAST is essentially an XML file that provides a standard for video players and ad servers to communicate with one another. Over the years, the standard was improved upon and VPAID was introduced to cover rich media ads and offer important functionality, such as Viewability and Blocking.
There are many markets, however, that have not adapted to VPAID and show no inclination of doing so (ie, many German speaking regions). As a result, agencies are left with VAST-only inventory, which prevents them from measuring Viewability or using Blocking to protect their brands. The IAB has recognized these limitations and acknowledged in their VAST 4.1 release notes that they are “taking the first steps to officially deprecate the use of VPAID.” (2)
The first step in this regard is happening in the mobile app environment, for video and display traffic. For video, the Open Measurement SDK provides an Open Measurement Interface Definition (“OMID”) API, which supports adding verification tags to VAST 2.0, 3.0 and VAST 4.1. These new capabilities allow for Viewability measurement without VPAID availability – giving agencies a means to authenticate video inventory that was previously unmeasurable. The new OM SDK is off to a great start, with Google, Pandora, TapJoy and many others having adopting or actively working toward adoption in the near future. Still, publishers will need to allocate resources and adapt their technology to further adoption. Higher media spend will also result in greater pressure on publishers to allow for proper media authentication processes on their hosted media – resulting in a transparent, fair and competitive pricing environment that will be beneficial to all players in the ecosystem.
The industry will need to drive adoption of new standards such as OM SDK and VAST 4.1 in a timely fashion, while verification providers will need to work on improving their tech, to offer new solutions for VPAID-free inventory. Eventually, we should come to a point in which all inventory will be open to media authentication, resulting in greater advertiser confidence, higher Impression volumes and superior return for all players in the industry.