I know this is a very nuanced discussion and, sometimes, same terms are used by clients to designate different industry entities. But, generally speaking, people who reach our website say they want to own an Ad Exchange Platform. More often than not they want to get there by having a VAST, VPAID and HTML 5 player. Which is pretty cool for us, as we know how to develop such creatures.

But, in the interest of us hitting the ground running, several clarifications are in need for when selecting your weapon of choice. I will try to oversimplify the chain of server calls to better illustrate my point.

Should you want to monetize a relationship with advertisers you need a DSP (demand side platform). Should you need to monetize your relationship with publishers you need a SSP (supply side platform). Should you need to monetize both you need an RTB (Real-Time-Bidding system between calls to multiple DSPs to serve multiple SSPs). This decision is a BUSINESS decision! A technology provider, such as ourselves, has little to do with what your best relationships in the industry are. From our point of view, they are equally challenging to implement and we can work with any one of them. Or all of them.

So, when your general idea is of “wanting to make money out of a VAST, VPAID and Mobile player”, you should first consider which one of these 3 awesome entities you would like to start with. At least for Phase I of the project. After Phase I, as your brand awareness and industry relationships further develop, you can mix and match and add any of the other 2 remaining. Or add only parts of them.

That being said, let’s focus now only on several buzzwords for online video and try to see if we can shed some light over the matter. Hopefully this will help with the decision-making process.

Video Players and VAST

We’ll dive into video players and VAST protocols, as they seem to be the starting point of each DSP, SSP, RTB discussion.

Again, overly-simplified, it’s kind of like trying to learn a new language. You first need a dictionary to choose your words from. A place where really smart people decided that certain symbols arranged in a certain order mean a specific real-life designation. That is the Ad Server. A place where creative people put their minds to work to trick you into believing their product is the best buy. Then, you need a language manifestation of some sort: writings, talks, singings, using your dictionary words. That is the Player. A technology manifestation that hopefully is smart enough to display as many of your creative workings as possible.

Then you need the Grammar of the new language to make some sense in your song and your words so that other smart people can follow where you’re going with your point. The Grammar part of a language is the VAST protocol. A set of rules and regulations that basically contain complete instructions which a video player needs to correctly follow so that ads are being displayed and more money are made in the process.

Then, each grammar has its particularities and rules which apply depending on the case. Like the English language has that many past tenses to be used, VAST protocol has multiple options: linear, non-linear, companions ads. Also, there can be several types of Grammars: VAST 2.0, VAST 3.0.

Ok. Now let’s learn a new language and dive into technicalities.

In order to keep a well structured and efficient communication between ad servers and video players, the IAB Digital Video Comitee created a set of specifications. The IAB folks are the smart people who make the dictionaries.

There are 6 sets of IAB guidelines (http://www.iab.net/media/file/VASTv3.0.pdf)

  • Video Ad Measurement Guidelines (VAMG): Outlines how events should be tracked.
  • Video Ad Serving Template (VAST): Enables the common structure of a video ad response sent from an ad server to a video player.
  • Video Player Ad Interface Definition (VPAID): Establishes the communication protocol between an interactive ad and the video player that is rendering it.
  • Video Multi Ads Playlist (VMAP): Enable a structure for a playlist of video ads sent from an ad server to a video player.
  • Digital Video Ad Format Guidelines and Best Practices: Outlines the general format and best practices that video ads should adhere to for the best advertising experience.
  • Digital Video In-Stream Ad Metrics Definitions: Defines industry-accepted metrics for measuring video ad effectiveness.

Since there are quite a few Grammar particularities for this special kind of language we will break this article into a series. We will handle: