Adobe Primetime Ad Serving with IAB VAST 3.0 and VMAP 1.0 Support

Adobe is con­tin­u­ing to invest heav­ily in our core ad serv­ing capa­bil­i­ties with the gen­eral avail­abil­ity launch of Adobe Prime­time. As part of our ongo­ing efforts to lead the indus­try in video mon­e­ti­za­tion for con­tent pro­gram­mers and dis­trib­u­tors, we’re rolling out sig­nif­i­cant enhance­ments to Adobe Prime­time Ad Serv­ing (fka Adobe Audi­tude) to com­ply with the lat­est VAST 3.0 and VMAP 1.0 stan­dards. We’re excited to be the only video ad server in the mar­ket today that’s capa­ble of both gen­er­at­ing and read­ing VAST 3.0 and VMAP 1.0 ad calls.

The IAB’s Video Ad Serv­ing Tem­plate, or VAST, was devel­oped to provide pub­lish­ers and adver­tis­ers with a com­mon lan­guage for video player tech­nol­ogy. In par­al­lel, the Dig­i­tal Video Mul­ti­ple Ad Playlist, or VMAP, was cre­ated to detail ad inser­tion pos­si­bil­i­ties in instances where a pro­gram­mer doesn’t con­trol the video player or end-point dis­tri­b­u­tion chan­nel for con­tent it owns.

The pur­pose of these two stan­dards is to make video adver­tis­ing more scal­able and straight­for­ward for indus­try par­tic­i­pants, and Adobe is happy to announce that our Adobe Prime­time Ad Serv­ing is fully VAST 3.0 and VMAP 1.0 com­pli­ant. It is capa­ble of both gen­er­at­ing and read­ing VAST 3.0 ad calls, and allow­ing for inven­tory rights shar­ing among pro­gram­mers and dis­trib­u­tors with VMAP 1.0.

Before the intro­duc­tion of VAST and VMAP, pub­lish­ers using dif­fer­ent play­ers for dif­fer­ent play­back envi­ron­ments required adver­tis­ers to cre­ate unique ad responses for each site or device they wished to tar­get. This cre­ated sig­nif­i­cant oper­a­tional headaches, and lim­ited the amount of money that media buy­ers were will­ing to spend on dig­i­tal video. While ear­lier ver­sions of VAST allowed adver­tis­ers to address these chal­lenges, the stan­dard also laid the ground­work to enable con­tent pro­gram­mers and dis­trib­u­tors to com­mu­ni­cate among them­selves more effi­ciently. VAST 3.0 builds fur­ther on this foun­da­tion.

The lat­est ver­sions, VAST 3.0 and VMAP 1.0, add a num­ber of fea­tures and enhance­ments, includ­ing new details for the ad response for­mat and how video play­ers inter­pret and return sig­nals to and from an ad server. Accord­ing to the IAB:

With VAST 3.0, video play­ers now have the abil­ity to declare which ad for­mats they sup­port. Five for­mats are pro­vided as options: Lin­ear Ads, Non­Lin­ear Ads, Skip­pable Lin­ear Ads, Lin­ear Ads with Com­pan­ions, and Ad Pods (a sequenced group of ads). Skip­pable Lin­ear Ads and Ad Pods are new for­mats offered with this release. Some video play­ers choose to only sup­port cer­tain VAST ad for­mats in accor­dance with their pub­lish­ing busi­ness model. With VAST 3.0, the guess­work of which VAST ad for­mat a player sup­ports is elim­i­nated.

The VAST ad-­serving process when ads are served directly from a publisher’s system to the video player (Image credit: IAB)

The VAST ad-­serving process when ads are served directly from a publisher’s sys­tem to the video player (Image credit: IAB)

And:

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.

A simplified example of the VMAP serving process (Image credit: IAB)

A sim­pli­fied exam­ple of the VMAP serv­ing process (Image credit: IAB)

The pri­mary advan­tage of VAST 3.0 is that it enables mon­e­ti­za­tion of breaks with mul­ti­ple ads via a sin­gle ad call. This third-party ad server can con­trol the entire ad expe­ri­ence for the break. In com­bi­na­tion with VMAP 1.0, this is ideal for full-length TV episodes, which typ­i­cally have sev­eral breaks with more than one ad, and for which inven­tory splits between the pro­gram­mer and the dis­trib­u­tor are com­mon. With the prior ver­sions of VAST, the ad server could only request and respond to one ad at a time – it wasn’t pos­si­ble to effi­ciently sup­port breaks with more than one ad. VAST 2.0 was built for short clips, but VAST 3.0 has been designed for true broad­cast-to-IP TV.

With­out a VAST 3.0-compliant ad server, a broad­caster will typ­i­cally have to man­u­ally traf­fic ads against indi­vid­ual ad posi­tions in a sin­gle com­mer­cial break to pre­vent an ad from appear­ing more than once. Imple­ment­ing com­pet­i­tive block­ing and enabling robust ana­lyt­ics and fore­cast­ing are sim­i­larly labor-inten­sive. This presents a traf­fick­ing night­mare for ad oper­a­tions – and doesn’t scale.

VAST 3.0 and VMAP 1.0 are espe­cially impor­tant for dri­ving broader adop­tion of TV Every­where because these pro­to­cols enable shared inven­tory rights between pro­gram­mers and dis­trib­u­tors. Inven­tory rights shar­ing requires inter­op­er­abil­ity between part­ners’ video play­ers and ad servers, which VAST 3.0 and VMAP 1.0 provide. A dis­trib­u­tor who deploys and con­trols the video player typ­i­cally has to call a programmer’s ad server to insert ads that the con­tent part­ner has sold. For exam­ple, a pro­gram­mer may give two of every 20 min­utes of ad space to a cable oper­a­tor for local spots; this type of inven­tory shar­ing is made pos­si­ble with VAST 3.0 and VMAP 1.0 redi­rects between the con­tent pro­gram­mer and distributor’s ad servers.

Global broad­cast­ers and dis­trib­u­tors like NBC and Com­cast are increas­ingly turn­ing to Adobe Prime­time for its uni­fied work­flow across pub­lish­ing, adver­tis­ing and ana­lyt­ics. Adobe Prime­time now fea­tures the industry’s only video ad server that can both gen­er­ate and read VAST 3.0 and VMAP 1.0 ad calls, mak­ing the process of fully mon­e­tiz­ing broad­cast video even sim­pler for both con­tent pro­gram­mers and dis­trib­u­tors.

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Campbell Foster

About Campbell Foster

Campbell Foster is Marketing Director for Adobe Primetime, leading global efforts to drive adoption of Adobe's video publishing, monetization and optimization technologies. Before Adobe, Campbell headed global Product Marketing for Google DoubleClick, managing ad serving, video, RTB, and rich media products. He served as a founding member of the DoubleClick Ad Exchange management team. Campbell earned an MBA, with Distinction, from NYU Stern School of Business and received a BA in English from Cornell University. Campbell is dedicated to exploring the intersection between technology and BBQ, and is actively developing the world's first automated barbecue smoking hygrometer.

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