Meetrics Blog


Road to VAST 4.x: a mid-term review

Written by Clemens Egle, Head of Product

It’s been nearly 10 years since the release of VPAID 2.0 in April 2012. Recently, the standard has been deprecated, as OMID for desktop and mobile web was released. Now the 2016 VAST 4.x standard is back in the limelight.
Meetrics has been driving the adoption of VAST 4 since its release and successfully conducted the first measurement tests in 2018. Back then, I reflected on the origins of video ad verification and gave an outlook of what’s lying ahead on the road to a widespread adoption of VAST 4.x
In this article, we’re taking a look at what has been achieved so far, what impact the introduction of the Open Measurement standard has and what still needs to happen to gain the most holistic understanding of video ad campaigns.


2018: “Advertisers should rethink the value of VCR”

Over the years, viewability KPIs became the market standard to assess the effectiveness of video ads. Yet, video completion rate (VCR) is still being used to evaluate video campaigns. As quartile measurement technologies are widely available, VCR presents a uniform base for comparison although no insights on the actual viewability of the ads can be won: The common fallback option is measured by just firingpixels every 25% of the ad’s target duration.
Nowadays, we see many advertisers having changed their approach and pushing for more advanced video ad verification.


2018: “VPAID was designed as a supplement not as a substitution for VAST”

When we last looked at VPAID, we found that the interactive standard comes with a few disadvantages when used for measurements, e.g. a reduction in page performance or a poorer user experience. A large share of publishers, agencies and advertisers share these concerns. Hence, VPAID was deprecated with the introduction of OMID for Web. Nonetheless, we see some markets where it is still being widely used. Thanks to our collaboration with many long-term partners, the German industry is ahead of the international average in the adoption of new standards; increasing quality and transparency in digital advertising. Going forward, we’re working with all market sides to drive change and further innovation.


2018: “VAST 4.x offers a promising solution for transparency and measurability”

Together with IP Germany, we successfully conducted the world’s first VAST 4.0-based viewability measurement of a video creative in 2018, demonstrating that it was not necessary to wrap the creative tag to initiate a viewability measurement. Back then, no standard was established to enable communication between verification vendor scripts and video players, so this was a major effort to enable viewability measurements. With updates to the VAST4.x standard and most importantly the release of the Open Measurement SDK for iOS and Android in April 2018 the IAB Tech Lab took a major step forward towards standardization. An even more crucial step towards adoption of OM SDK-based measurements was the release of the OM SDK for Web Browsers at the end of 2020. This enables the buy-side to measure in In-App and in browser-based environments with just a single tag, without the need of sending ad tags back and forth for wrapping to enable viewability measurements. .
While we have seen a good adoption rate for In-App environments, we expect that the market will still take a bit of time until video players and publishers update their technical infrastructure to also support the OM SDK in web browsers throughout 2021.
This will lead to less technical barriers and more transparency on the market.


Looking ahead

All in all, we mainly see a change in thinking across the industry towards more insightful performance indicators. The latest set of standards provides a powerful toolset to make these metrics the norm for video ad verification. As the IAB Tech Lab is working towards support of the OM SDK in the CTV environment also, this technology will become even more important in the future, allowing more insightful metrics to be established across all environments, such as Meetrics’ Advanced Video Metrics. If you’d like to know more about video viewability KPIs, check out our other blog posts regarding the topic.
However, the cooperative effort necessary to remove any remaining technical barriers to adoption cannot be underestimated. Meetrics is actively working with publishing networks, ad serving companies as well as brands and agencies worldwide to further the adoption of OMID-based measurements delivered through VAST4.x ad tags.
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