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.