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.

Introducing the Primetime Media Player – A New Way to Distribute, Monetize and Analyze Online Video Content

As part of the major updates announced to Project Primetime today, we’re thrilled to introduce a beta of the Primetime Media Player. At the core of Primetime, this is the industry’s first technology enabling TV content owners and distributors to reach the broadest audience while immediately monetizing online video experiences through seamless ad insertion and analytics. We’re taking several Adobe video technologies and putting them under a single framework to provide a SDK for video content playback on Mac OS and Windows, plus native iOS and Android apps.

The Primetime Media Player allows for a richer, more robust viewing experience on desktops and mobile devices within apps. With seamless ad insertion and native support for protected playback built into the Player, consumers will enjoy faster video load times, fewer playback errors, and a less obtrusive advertising experience.  In short, it just feels like TV.  Consumers will also enjoy greater control over their content experience with support for closed captioning and multiple audio tracks (e.g. Spanish or English) when provided by the video publisher.  The end result is a positive online video playback experience where the consumer gets what they want – when and how they want it.   And, importantly, Primetime Media Player gives publishers and distributors a clear way to drive revenue from their online video experiences, without compromising user experience or audience reach.

Some benefits of the Primetime Media Player include:

  • High-quality Multiple Bit Rate (MBR) video playback support.
  • HTTP Live Streaming (HLS) support on iOS and Android.
  • HTTP Dynamic Streaming (HDS) support on desktop and Android.
  • Content monetization, including ad insertion capabilities and seamless ad insertion with native integration through Adobe MediaWeaver.
  • Better insight into your consumer viewing habits and stream quality with native integration with Adobe SiteCatalyst.
  • Content Protection and Business Policy Enforcement through Adobe Access – Full DRM and Protected Streaming with selectable output control and key rotation for linear, live and on-demand video.

The Primetime Media Player also offers fully compliant Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA) features:

  • Render in-stream closed captioning with built-in support for user-based rendering overrides
  • Native support for multiple audio tracks

We’ve designed the Primetime Media Player with ease-of-deployment in mind. Consumers can take advantage of the Player now with very little effort. The only requirement for desktop experiences is installing Adobe Flash Player (version 11.1 or higher). With iOS and Android, it’s already bundled within native apps so no additional plug-ins or downloads are required.  Content formatting and encryption for desktops, iOS and Android is made easy via Adobe StreamKit, which can be integrated into a third party encoder or run as a separate tool. We will continue to announce support for more web-connected platforms in the future, such as game consoles, Over-the-Top (OTT) devices, and connected TVs. We’re excited to see the Primetime Media Player deliver an improved broadcast TV experience online while consumers reap the benefits.

Check out the video overview of Project Primetime below and our other blogs posts around other Primetime updates: Adobe MediaWeaver, our new ad insertion service, and full integration with Adobe advertising and data solutions. Stay tuned for more updates around Project Primetime coming soon!

Introducing Adobe MediaWeaver – Innovation for Video Ad Insertion Across Devices

Programmers and operators struggle to effectively insert video ads into professional content across devices. Adobe MediaWeaver addresses this challenge as a core component of the latest version of Project Primetime, announced today. To simplify the process of monetizing video content and create the optimal viewing experience for consumers, MediaWeaver merges three different workflows into one:

  • Seamless ad insertion into linear, live, and VoD video content using a proprietary form of “ad stitching.” This allows for dynamic ad execution into any content type, on any IP-connected desktop or device, creating an engaging, buffer-free ad and content experience for consumers.
  • Complete management of business rules and contractual obligations tied to inventory splits and syndication rights. This helps media companies control which partners can sell advertising against their audience and programs, creating as much value as possible from every viewer interaction.
  • Ad management (ADM), directing ad calls based on pre-defined rules and obligations to any ad server. This reduces friction throughout the broadcast-to-IP video and advertising workflow, and replicates the TV national and local ad inventory split for any video delivered to a desktop or device.

Adobe customers who use MediaWeaver can take advantage of off-the-shelf integration with Adobe Auditude, Adobe’s video ad server, or pass ad calls seamlessly to linear/VOD or IP-based third-party ad servers. MediaWeaver allows Adobe customers to adopt Project Primetime and its components in modular fashion, without disrupting existing workflows, implementations or contractual arrangements.

With MediaWeaver, broadcasters can replace or dynamically insert ads into adaptive video streams on any desktop and a broad range of IP-connected devices — without content prep or workflow changes.

MediaWeaver delivers smooth, immediate transitions into and out of ad breaks. This process mimics the ease and simplicity of TV broadcasting to set-top boxes, and handles national and local inventory splits effortlessly – without sacrificing the addressability of a digital environment.

Check out the video overview below along with blog posts on our other latest Project Primetime updates: Primetime Media Player and full integration across Adobe advertising and data solutions.