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What Publishers Ought to Know About VPAID?

VPAID
VPAID protocol is developed to help us deliver interactive video ads to the users and better measurements and tracking for the advertisers. But do you know it works and why IAB is exploring an alternative to VPAID? Let's get the answers.

VAST, VPAID, and VMAP are the protocols that ensure ad servers and video players are communicating effectively to deliver a video ad.

Today, many publishers integrate video players to their websites to serve video ads seamlessly. Since video ads render within the video player content, an ad call to the ad server is done by the video player instead of the browser. Also, it’s the video player that interprets the ad response received from the server and controls the functioning of the ad units. 

However, with the advancement of technology and the introduction of executable video ads, the complexity between the ad server and video player has increased. That resulted in a lot of incompatibilities surrounding the different types of ad formats, and issues such as low render and ad fill rate, and longer ad load time.

Since executable video ad units require software logic to be displayed as a part of ad playback, to make it less complicated, IAB provided the certain specifications and named it VPAID for in-stream video ad formats so that publishers can run interactive video ads as they need easily. 

In short, the VPAID protocol was introduced to enable compatibility of video players with the standard video ad unit specifications and provide rich interactive user experience to the visitors. If you’re new to the world of video advertising, this protocol is something that will be relevant for you in the industry. So, let’s take a closer look at what is VPAID and how does it work in detail.

What is VPAID?

VPAID (Video Player Ad-Interface) is basically an in-stream video ad player is a script that is embedded inside the player to instruct it on what ad to play, how long the video ad should be played, where the ad should be placed, and where to take any action (play/pause) in the video. But isn’t the same thing done by VAST

True. But, VAST doesn’t support executable ads and it is not capable of providing interactive UX/UI. Also, VAST doesn’t allow publishers to collect rich interaction details about a video ad. In contrast to VAST, VPAID video ads can offer rich ad experience and can also collect interaction details and ad playback. VAST is just a universal specification for serving video ads while VPAID allows viewers to interact with video ads such as stop/pause, expand, share, etc.

Note: VPAID ad tags are provided by the advertisers. After setting up an ad campaign through Google Campaign Manager, an advertiser can generate and download the VPAID ad tags, and send these tags via email to the publisher. Once the VPAID ad tag gets approval from the publisher, it can be added to the website.

Benefits of VPAID Ad Creatives:

  1. VPAID allows publishers to add interactive elements in the video ads in a video player.
  2. The video ad can ask the video player to pause or resume the video content in between playback.
  3. If the video ad takes a long time to load, VPAID can stop the ad and resume the video content.
  4. Also, via VPAID (2.0 version), video ads can be re-sized according to the devices. 

How does VPAID work?

As we said above, VPAID fills the communication gap between the video player and an executable ad unit, it provides a set of instructions to the player and enabling the publisher to record the interaction of a user with the video ad content. Usually, this is how VPAID enables video player and server to interact with each other:

VPAID Ad Working

Step #1 : Making an Ad Call

Video players make an ad call to the publisher’s ad server. 

Step #2 : Returning an Ad Request

Once the server receives the ad call, it responds back to the server with a VAST XML containing a VPAID-compliant executable video ad unit.

Step #3 : Setting Properties for Video Ad

Using the VPAID, the video player gets and sets the properties of the video ads and executes the video ad as defined by the publisher. 

Step #4 : Tracking Impressions

If the ad server tracking is not specified by VPAID, the video player and ad units are responsible to track and send impressions to their respective ad servers.

Event Flow of A Video Ad in JW Player: This basic flow chart explains how a video ad compliant to VPAID 2.0 supported video player works. The complete process completes in three steps: 

  1. Ad unit gets loaded into the player after it gets command adStarted. Video creative assets get loaded and the ad is displayed.
  2. Ad impressions are fired when the ad unit indicates someone has viewed the ad.
  3. Then, adStopped command is called to stop the video ad.

VPAID Ad in JW Player

How does VPAID work in Different Video Ad Types?

Technically, this is how VPAID works in Clickable and Overlay Banner video ads:

  1. Video player calls handshakeVersion(“VPAID version”) which is basically used to indicate to the ad unit which VPAID version will be used. The ad unit returns the VPAID version to verify if both matches.
  2. Then, the video player calls initAd() command which enables the ad unit to load and verifies the process by returning AdLoaded() to notify the player that it is ready for display.
  3. Video player calls startAd() function and the ad unit starts displaying the ad and confirms by returning AdStarted().
  4. Video player gets adLinear() that determines the type of video ad unit i.e. linear or non-linear video ad and checks the value if it is TRUE or FALSE. 

Case 1: If TRUE, the video player gets to know that the video ad is Clickable Pre-Roll Ad.

  1. Then the player gets adDuration(), sets adVolume() and other playback specifications such as pauseAd(), resumeAd(), and resizeAd() for the video ad.
  2. When the video ad is completed, it sends AdStopped() to the video player. Then, the video player buffers and plays the video content.

Case 2: If FALSE, then video ad player identifies the video ad unit is Overlay Banner Ad.

  1. The player displays the Overlay Banner ad along with the video. Then, it calls stopAd() when the ad display time has elapsed. 
  2. After this, content video is played.

How to Create a VAST tag with VPAID Ad Creative in Google Ad Manager?

Since the linear and non-linear video ad units are loaded in a VAST, Google Ad Manager allows the trafficking of VPAID ad creatives through VAST video redirects only. So, to create a VAST ad with a VPAID creative in Ad Manager, follow the below steps:

  1. Sign in to Google Ad Manager.
  2. Click Delivery > Creatives > Creative sets > New creative set. Now, select the Advertiser and choose Video VAST.
  3. Then, enter the Video ad size and click Continue. After this, give a Name to the creative set and click Redirect.
  4. Enter the creative details such as the VAST tag URL (VAST Tag URL points to XML with VPAID script in this case).
  5. Enter the Duration of the video ad, and then click Save.

From the above steps, we can conclude that the VPAID ad is just an ad that is transported through a VAST container. Also, if you have a player that works with VAST ads, then it can automatically handle VAST ads with VPAID creatives. And this proves the tags are correlated to each other for video advertising. 

Sidenote: In order to handle the VPAID script, some players will use VPAID API as the implementation can get quite complicated. 

Snippet of a VAST ad having a VPAID Creative:

VPAID Ad Creative Snippet

Conclusion

Currently, VPAID 3.0 is in its draft form and expected soon to be released in its final form. Besides, VPAID is exclusively designed for video players that are capable of loading and delivering executable in-stream video ads. So, we suggest you ensure that the player you’re working with supports the latest version of VPAID 2.0 or if you’re building your own video player then build the player to the standard VPAID specifications. 

As VPAID has complicated execution and higher chances of errors, IAB is exploring alternatives like SIMID

Automatad Team

At Automatad, we help publishers to monetize better without hampering the user experience. Our products are live across hundreds of publishers, earning them incremental ad revenue with every passing second. You can request a free audit to get an estimated revenue uplift today.

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