Understanding VPAID and VAST: What’s the Difference?

Updated on: February 22, 2024
If you're wondering how VAST is different from VPAID and how to use them together, then you're in the right place. Let's get started.

Video ads have grown tremendously over the past years and are poised to continue the trend. The latest report by Statista declared that advertisers would spend $104.87 billion in the US this year.

With video ads becoming increasingly popular, it is no wonder there are large debates about VPAID vs. VAST ad tags. Which is best for video ads? What’s the difference between them?

In this post, I’ll try to explain why these two standards have taken off in the digital advertising world and how they’re actually different from one another and give insight into which may be best for your business.

An Overview of Video Ad Standards

VAST and VPAID are video ad-serving protocols, meaning they are different rules on how a video ad should be delivered to the user. IAB (Interactive Advertising Bureau) framed the protocols to ensure the industry players have a standard way to interpret, deliver, and measure video ad campaigns.

Moreover, VAST and VPAID are not mutually exclusive. For the delivery of video ads, you will be using VAST in every case. The addition of VPAID is just the addition of new features to the already existing VAST framework. Let’s dive into the differences. Shall we?

What Is VAST?

VAST stands for Video Ad Serving Template. It helps with the communication between the ad server and the video player on the website.

Before the arrival of VAST, the ads had to be custom programmed according to the video players of the publishers, which hampered the ability to scale up video ad serving. Want to know more? Here’s our detailed VAST guide.

What Is VPAID?

VPAID stands for Video Player Ad Serving Interface. It helps with communication between ad servers and video players. It was introduced to bring advancement to the features provided by VAST, such as:

  • Providing Interactivity: The ads served by VPAID can be way more interactive than the simple in-stream ads served with VAST. Having multiple tabs, filling in subscription forms and surveys, and even playing games is possible with VPAID ads. Interactivity brings better results, and therefore marketers prefer them.
  • Better Measurement: It is easier for advertisers to measure the performance metrics of the ads, like viewability, completion rate, CTR, etc., with VPAID compared to VAST.
  • More Personalization: Advertisers can create more personalized ad campaigns with VPAID than with VAST. For example, setting different CTA’s for different geographical locations for the same ad is possible with VPAID.

Check out our Video Player Ad Serving Interface Definition article for a detailed discussion.

Difference Between VAST and VPAID

The mechanism of serving ads is different between the two:

  • The OVP (Online Video Platform) fetches and plays a video file in VAST. Whereas in VPAID, the OVP fetches a dynamic code. This code takes control of the player’s viewable area. Once the video ad is completed, the controls are returned to the OVP.
  • To verify viewability, the VAST tag sends a request to the intersection observer API within the browser, and then the browser responds with the details of viewability. In VPAID, the tag takes control of the video player and loads JavaScript in the browser, which gathers the viewability details.
  • VAST restricts the video player from preloading an ad unit before the ad media is rendered, whereas VPAID allows it.
  • VAST emphasizes the uniform way of exchanging data between technologies, whereas VPAID emphasizes making the delivery of complex ads possible.
  • The functioning of VAST gives more control over the player in the hands of publishers, whereas the buyers enjoy more control when the VPAID protocol is being followed.

VAST vs. VPAID: A Comprehensive Analysis of Differences

Ad Format Basic in-stream video ads Rich media and interactive ads
Communication Creates a link between the ad server and video player Creates a bridge between the video player and video ad units
Interactive Elements Limited Clickable buttons and other interactive elements
Data Recording Basic data recording Detailed data recording on user interactions
Widely Supported Widely supported by video players and ad servers Limited support by some video players and ad servers
Implementation Easy to implement Complex to implement

So, Which One Should You Choose?

When deciding between VAST or VPAID for your video ads, it all comes down to what you’re trying to achieve as a publisher. If you want an easy way to deliver video ads to a wide audience across multiple platforms and don’t need advanced interactive features, then VAST is probably the way to go. It’s simple to implement, widely supported, and will get your ads in front of a broad range of devices.

However, if you’re looking for more advanced and interactive ad formats offering detailed tracking and reporting, VPAID could be the better choice. It allows for more interactivity with the viewer, but it does come with some added complexity and could require more development resources.

At the end of the day, the decision between VAST and VPAID should be based on your specific needs and goals as a publisher, as well as the capabilities of your ad-serving platform and the devices you’re targeting. So take the time to consider your options and choose the one that’s best for you.


What Is the Difference Between VAST and VPAID?

VAST is a simpler format allowing video ads to be played within players. At the same time, VPAID is a more advanced format that allows for interactive ads with clickable buttons and other interactive elements.

Which Tag Is Better, VAST or VPAID?

The choice between VAST and VPAID depends on the publisher’s specific needs and goals. If a publisher wants a more interactive and engaging ad experience for their audience, VPAID is the better choice.

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