The overall effectiveness of online video ad campaigns essentially depends on several factors: a video ad server, a video ad player and consistent & coherent video ad integration – using video ad tags.
In this respect, while working with premium Supply/Demand partners (directly or programmatically) can help score sustainable growth in terms of ad viewability and audience engagement, none of the above is possible, unless the flawless video ad display across various browsers and screens is ensured.
Fortunately, the video ad tech industry has already developed effective solutions to address major compatibility issues:
- by implementing global video advertising standards, i.e. IAB VAST/VPAID and Google IMA
- and introducing a variety of ad tag testing tools.
First, let’s recall the basics.
What is VAST?
VAST (Video Ad Serving Template), developed by IAB, implies a global framework for embedding video ad units, i.e. a protocol that standardizes interaction between a video ad server and a video ad player on a publisher’s website.
In a nutshell, a VAST ad tag communicates a video ad server’s request to a VAST-compliant video ad player, while also specifying a set of display parameters for a video ad creative.
Simply put, the use of VAST tags in digital video advertising is what enables the correct serving of video ads across various video ad player solutions, browsers, platforms and publishers’ websites.
What is VPAID?
VPAID (Video Player Ad-Serving Interface Definition) is basically a piece of JS code that creates somewhat a common interface between the video ad unit and the video ad player.
While VAST establishes a common standard for video ad serving in a whole, VPAID enables to enrich video ad performance, i.e. enhance interactivity of video ad units and empower real-time ad reporting capabilities.
Even though it’s possible to use VPAID independently, the common approach has always implied embedding it into VAST. In fact, VPAID is generally referred to as the variation of VAST.
Note! In November 2018, IAB officially announced taking first steps to deprecate the use of VPAID, in favour of the upgraded & improved VAST 4.1 variation.
VAST URL vs VAST XML
VAST tags imply using one of the 2 formats: VAST URL or VAST XML, depending on the video ad platform compliance, either with one, or both of them. In the latter case, using a VAST XML is generally preferable.
What is VMAP?
VMAP (Video Multiple Ad Playlist) refers to IAB video ad standard that enables playing multiple video ads during a video. Contrarily to supporting ad sequences via pods, as in VAST 3.0, VMAP provides greater control over placement/timing of video ads to publishers, especially those working with third-party video ad player solutions.
What is Google IMA?
Quite predictably, Google has initially launched its Interactive Media Ads software development kit (or simpler, Google IMA SDK) to smooth up and simplify serving of DFP video ads.
Nonetheless, it has rapidly evolved to a somewhat universal solution, currently compatible with third-party VMAP and VAST/VPAID video ad servers, which however implies granting access to Google’s DFP module.
What is a Video Ad Tag Tester?
Quite a lot of video ad providers currently offer their in-house VAST inspector / video ad tester tools that help validate video ad tags fast & easy.
How it works?
The essence is clear: a VAST tag tester implies the video ad player tries to interpret a VAST tag response, i.e. display a video ad creative & ping tracking URLs.
Benefits of Using a Video Ad Tag Tester
Now why would one need a video ad tag tester tool?
The answer is simple: even though IAB is continuously putting its effort into the faster implementation of VAST upgrades, their worldwide adoption often lags, which inevitably causes compatibility issues on a Publisher side.
In this respect, testing a VAST tag response prior to forwarding it to a publisher for further integration helps ensure both the proper rendering of video ad creatives on their website/s & consistent tracking of all ad events by the video ad player.
More importantly, it also enables to detect, hence troubleshoot existing technical issues in the live environment.
How to Use AdPlayer.Pro VAST Inspector & Video Ad Tag Tester
To test your VAST or Google IMA tag using AdPlayer.Pro VAST Inspector & Video Ad Tag Tester tool:
1. Open AdPlayer.Pro VAST inspector in your web browser.
2. Select an Ad Client by checking one of the boxes: “VAST” (for VAST/VPAID tags), or “Google IMA.”
3. Select a “Custom” video ad tag option.
4. Copy/Paste your video ad tag into the input field (e.g. VAST URL / VAST XML – to test VAST tag).
5. Click “Test Ad.”
6. Review ad events output in the “Events” section to ensure:
- proper rendering of a video ad creative
- precise recording of video ad events
7. Arrange timely error fix, if any.
Note! Prior to testing your VAST or Google IMA tag using AdPlayer.Pro VAST Inspector & Video Ad Tag Tester, make sure your video tag meets the following criteria:
- Video ad tag was generated more than 15 minutes ago.
- Video ad creative is a) active & b) assigned to active Demand.
- The active Demand is assigned to an Ad Placement (Supply).
- Configured targeting settings (time, geo, platform, domain or else), both on the Demand & Supply sides, enable viewing the video ad.
The trick is, if any targeting parameter mismatches those in your current timezone, location, domain or platform, the video ad creative won’t load in the video ad tag tester.
- If you’re using an Instream video ad creative, the video ad tag must include a video asset (i.e. a video file).
Test its advertising capabilities directly on the AdPlayer.Pro Video Ad Tag Tester page – on our sample IAB VAST/VPAID and Google IMA tags.