Video Ad Serving Solutions

This article brings an in-depth overview of the following Video Ad standards/Protocols, as well as a list of the most popular Ad server solutions in the market today, respectively:

We support all of these Video Ad Serving Solutions thanks to our cooperation with Bradmax.

VAST - Video Ad Serving Template

VAST was created with the goal to easily deliver personalised ads into videos and video streams from an Ad server to the video player itself, no matter what device the end-user was on.

"Using XML, VAST does for video ad serving what HTML does for browser-based ad serving. Just as HTML enables web browsers to display websites from any web server, VAST enables video players to display ads from any video ad server."

How the Ad serving, VAST supported process works:

  1. Video player requests an Ad
  2. Video player receives the Ad as a response
  3. Video player keeps serving the Ad while sending tracking info of the Ad impression back to the server

Video player < --- > Ad Server communication:

VAST ISN'T device or platform specific, it works with:

  • Video players on web pages
  • Video players on mobile optimised web pages
  • Video players in mobile apps
  • Video players on Internet-Connected TVs
  • Video playback through IPTV or other set-top-box environments
  • and many others

Distributor's options with VAST are:

  • Which video ad to display to the user
  • Where the video ad should be placed
  • How long it should run for
  • Whether the user is able to skip the video ad (not suitable for LS)
  • What the destination URL should be

VAST 3.0 format options:

  • Linear Ads - Typically in a video format but may also include static images that play for a set duration at linear points along the video's timeline. They can be served before the video playback starts(pre-roll), at a break during the content video (mid-roll), or after the content video (post-roll). With other technologies in place, such as VPAID (more on VPAID below), the Linear Ad's duration may be extended upon viewer interaction.
  • Skippable Linear Ads - An optional ad-serving model based on Linear Ads for ads that viewers can skip. Enables publishers to support a business model in which publishers and advertisers can negotiate billing based on ads that play all the way through. (Not suitable for Live Streaming)
  • NonLinear Ads - NonLinear Ads are served as an overlay displayed on top of the content video. They are clickable and are presented together with the original content video. They also usually last 10-20 seconds. (Bottom pop-up Ads on YouTube are a perfect example).
  • Companion Ads - Ads served with Linear or NonLinear ads but are displayed outside the video player. They can serve as a leave-behind on the page after the video ad has ended, thus enabling a more engaging UX. Companion Ads are commonly displayed as banners or rich media ads. (These are possibly beneficial for the advertisers but loathed by the users).
  • Ad Pods (a sequenced group of Ads) - Ad Pods work the same way as a TV commercial break with multiple Ad spots would. The placement of an Ad Pod is outside the scope of VAST 3.0 but can be positioned either by direct video player source code alternation or by using VMAP to specify desired Ad breaks. (More information about VMAP either further down in this document or on chapter 3.1 here: )

VMAP (Video Multiple Ad Playlist)

Enables the distributor of the content to place the ads where he wants to if they have no access to the player's source code itself (Basically an API). Used by YouTube content creators, e.g. to place Ads in certain places of their video, without access to the video player code.

From Clearcode on VMAP: "VMAP was designed to be used in conjunction with VAST and is well-suited for video content creators who have no control over the video player but want to control the ad experience within the videos."

The moments of Ad breaks can be specified with one of the following:

  • Start: a pre-roll ad
  • End: a post-roll ad
  • Seconds: offset in seconds from the beginning of the main video to the ad break placement. Example: ad breaks at 30 seconds, 60 seconds and 90 seconds.
  • Percentage: offset in percentage from the beginning of the main video to the ad break placement. Example: ad breaks at 20%, 50% and 80%.
  • Position/Opportunity: when the timing of the main content or ad break is unknown, you can set the order of multiple ads breaks as first, second, third and so on. This is suitable for live streaming.

VPAID - Video Player Ad Interface Definition

It's a richer and more interactive Ad experience built on top of the VAST idea. It usually runs embedded into VAST, though it can run independently too.

A good example of that would be:

The clickable area on the ad makes the user further interact with the ad while pausing the video's playback or live stream behind it.

The click can forward the user to a mini-game, a subscription form, a website, an e-shop, movie preview, etc.

Questionable in the case of live streams, viewing the clicked content could be shorter or longer than the break first intended by the live streaming distributor, which could break the live stream's end-user experience. On the other hand, their interaction with the Ad could be purely caused by their interest in the advertised product.

Ad Servers

Here are some of the best third-party Ad server solutions: