Explaining the Video Player-Ad Interface Definition (VPAID)

Spelling it out

The purpose of this post is to briefly explain VPAID and its function within online video advertising. If you’ve been monetizing your video inventory for some time, you might have noticed some changes in the ads delivered across your site. You may have also developed your own unique video player to enable compatibility with the standard ad unit requirements that have been implemented by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB).

If all this sounds relatively new to you, don’t panic – the standardisation was implemented to ensure better measurement and compliance across the online advertising industry. You may only just be beginning to serve advertising across your inventory or you may be switching to the IAB standard ad formats so let’s take a look at VPAID specifically and what it means for you.

VPAID - the IAB’s Video Player-Ad Interface Definition

What it does - If you’ve read our blog explaining VAST (Video Ad Serving Template), you know the IAB created this ad format to ensure a standard template for online video advertising across all types of video players that allows all compliant publishers to display. VAST itself however, is limited in regard to the extent of interaction the ad unit allows the user.

The VPAID ad format allows a rich interactive user experience with in stream video ads. Not only does it provide a deeper experience for the user than VAST, but it captures and reports how the user interacts. Advertisers can use this information to improve their creative and technical specifications.

In short, VPAID allows executable ads with compatible video players, while VAST delivers a packaged ad with basic interactions.

Video ad flow with VPAID

Video advertisement flow with VPAID

The Executable Ad

VPAID communicates a set of instructions that informs a video player of the length of the advertisement, tells it when to play, when to disappear or re-appear within the player and allows the user to interact in a variety of ways.

An example of a VPAID enabled interaction would be that a user could click on an ad to view more detailed content such as a longer version of a pre-roll. The publisher can choose to set what time and where the ad appears within the content, and the basic functions of play, pause, close/hide etc. remain. Whatever action is taken by the user will be recorded and reported back to the advertiser.

Types of ads supported include:

  • Clickable pre-roll

                                   clickable pre-roll

  • Companion banner

                                   companion banner

  • Overlay banner

                                   overlay banner

  • Overlay banner with click-to-linear video ad

                                         overlay banner with click-to-linear video advertisement

What if the player can’t read a flash format such as the type VPAID uses?

VPAID uses the .SWF file format which enables graphics, gifs and other interactive elements via Flash that standard file types do not. If a publisher player is unable to read the .SWF (eg, it only reads JavaScript) the VPAID tag will be overridden by the VAST tag so that an ad will still be served but it won’t have the interactive capabilities the VPAID tag allows for.

What does it mean for advertisers?

VPAID is an important IAB development because it means advertisers can see how individual ads are performing and devise improved ways of engaging their audiences and increasing the level of interaction with the ad.

What does it mean for publishers?

Publisher players must be compatible with IAB standards to ensure VPAID ads are executable and this is of mutual benefit across the industry. Publishers compatible with VPAID ad formats can accept more rich interaction advertising, and the premium experience, according to the IAB, will often lead to ‘premium compensation’. The IAB standard formats also make it easier for publisher development teams because they only need to build one compatible player which will accept all standard formats.  

All example images from: iab.net 

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