VAST 3 and VMAP 1 – Supporting New Standards in Video Ads

Blog 4 min read | Feb 26, 2014 | JW Player


JW Player Ads Edition now supports the IAB’s VAST 3.0 and Video Multiple Ad Playlist 1.0 (VMAP 1.0) video ads standards. Each of these new specifications bring an array of new features and functionality that was not present in VAST 2.0. The updates aim to enhance the video advertising ecosystem by providing additional monetization mechanisms for publishers and better error reporting for ad networks. JW Player supports these standards as of our 6.8 release.

VAST 3.0 Ad Pods

A big update in VAST is the introduction of the Ad Pod. An Ad Pod is sequence of linear ads played back to back, like a commercial break with multiple ad spots. A publisher can easily set up these breaks within a single ad tag and the JW Player will automatically know to string those ads together during playback.

Ad Pods allow video players to create a commercial experience without a publisher having to provide an additional layer of scheduling to get the ads grouped together. JW Player provides the ability to customize the ad break message and shows the total number of ads in the pod. Each individual ad in the pod also counts as their own impression, making pods a great way to increase impressions without degrading the viewer’s experience. The Javascript API will also let you know which ad in the pod is playing, allowing you to further customize the experience.

VAST 3.0 Skippable Ads

Skippable ads give publishers and advertisers the ability to pay for ads that are actually viewed. This gives better insight into which ads are working. For example, if a viewer watches an entire PreRoll ad that was skippable, it represents a successful impression. Viewers that skip ads are likely not interested in the product being advertised and gives your audience a way to get to content that will keep them coming back. This interaction is tracked in a new event called “skip.”

VAST 3.0 also contains a new progress event that will report back to your ad network if the viewer watched the ad for a specified amount of time. This allows you to negotiate what counts as an ad view. Vendors who support skippable ads may only count a view if the ad was watched for 15 seconds before being skipped.

Skippable Ads Demo

Error Reporting

VAST 3.0 has been improved with a list of error codes that enable the JW Player to report specific details when an ad is not served properly. These codes can be used to troubleshoot situations and will help improve video advertising technology over time.

Here are a few of the situations the JW Player will report when an ad error occurs:

  • Timeout of VAST uri provided in a wrapper element.
  • Requested file was not found.
  • Unable to display NonLinear ad because creative dimensions do not align with creative display area.
  • Video player found a media file with supported media type but couldn’t display it.

VMAP 1.0 – Ad Scheduling Template

VMAP is an XML template that allows you to schedule ad insertion into the JW Player outside of the ad schedule configuration block. VMAP was designed for publishers that do not necessarily have the ability to control ad placement within their content. Specifically, when videos are aggregated in a syndication service and a different video player is used across sites.

VMAP does not define the ads, but rather it enables you to define the ad breaks for your content. This includes the timing of each break, how many breaks are available, what type of ads and how many are allowed in each break.

JW Player supports VMAP while retaining the same scheduling method that has already allowed many publishers to exercise this same level of control.

Google DFP Support

Google Double Click for Publishers now supports VMAP which allows JW Player to fully support ad rules for DFP Premium customers. Publishers can use both VAST 3.0 and VMAP 1.0 ad tags from DFP as of early February.

Future Work

We love standards that allow us to innovate and provide a customizable and extensible solution that works across all platforms. VAST 3.0 provides this but as technology changes standards need to adapt or be updated to handle the change. JW Player joined the IAB in early January and as a member we are going to contribute directly on the future VAST standards.

One change that we are really excited about is extending VAST to provide social sharing across video players and doing so without having to use a VPAID swf. Another update is ensuring that VAST tags have enough information to create an amazing second screen experience when you are using a Chromecast or Airplay. More on that next week!