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AdTech on Deck: Understanding VPAID vs VAST

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Ahoy there, marketers. Welcome to our newest blog series, AdTech on Deck! We realize that in this ever-changing digital world, technical advertising terms and practices are as VAST as the sea. But it’s critical to understand the ins and outs of digital advertising to make sure your campaigns perform the best in front of the right audiences.

Get ready to learn the ropes every month with a new post clarifying complicated topics across AdTech, from measurement and attribution, to advanced creative technologies and ad serving. You’ll make waves with your campaigns—and probably win at in-office trivia. 

All hands on deck for our first post!

VPAID? VAST? Video ad tags?! Depending on your familiarity with digital ad servers, choosing the right advertising tags for your video campaigns can feel like venturing into uncharted waters. We’re here to help you get your “sea legs” with a definitive understanding of VPAID vs. VAST video tags—what they are, the pros and cons of each, and which you should pick to best meet your campaign objectives.

Let’s dive in.

What is a video ad tag?

Ad tags like VAST and VPAID are standardized scripts, or pieces of code, that are generated by an ad server in order to bring video ads submitted by marketers to publisher platforms (e.g. Hulu, Facebook, ESPN). For publishers, tags act as placeholders for ad creative and signify available inventory—think of it like a vacant billboard.

For advertisers, tags automate the process of optimizing creative to each platform’s required display specs. They also provide user data that’s necessary for advanced audience targeting, like geolocation, and contain tracking pixels that report on important metrics like impressions.

TLDR; Ad tags allow ad servers and video players to communicate and choose which ads to run automatically, delivering tailored video creative to viewers across multiple platforms and publishers 🤌 with ease. 🤌

What is VAST?

VAST (video ad serving template) is the most common tag type for serving ads to video players. It includes multiple tracking pixels and video files in a single, standardized file that works on any device, including desktop, laptop, mobile, and CTV.

VAST tags tell video players:

  • Which ads to play
  • The order ads are played in
  • Whether or not an ad can be skipped
  • How long to play the ad before it can be skipped
  • Where to direct viewers if they click on an interactive element

Benefits of VAST tags

VAST tags automatically render video assets to the best format per device and platform, so it loads quickly and clearly for the best user experience. They also:

  • Remove the need to manually implement tags
  • Reduce risk of manual error with automatic encoding
  • Allow ad servers to handle creative swaps for faster turnaround times
  • Report on metrics like impressions, click-throughs, and completion rate

Limitations of VAST tags

With VAST, video ads act as one, big clickable button. Regardless of where a consumer clicks, the ad will direct them to only one location.

🚫This limits the ability to run advanced interactive ads with various clickable spots. 

🚫These tags can’t detect viewability, limiting verification of media investments.

What is VPAID?

VPAID (video player ad interface) is much like VAST—but with an added layer of code that allows users to experience advanced interactive ads. With VPAID, viewers can:

  • Click into different areas of an ad with unique locations and CTAs
  • Play games or take surveys directly within an ad
  • Interact with images, gifs, and text within an ad

Benefits of VPAID

In addition to cool interactive features, VPAID ad tags track more metrics, including viewability, awareness, engagement, time earned, brand safety, and fraud. This gives marketers verification on their media spend and a better understanding of campaign performance.

A recent interactive CTV ad from THQ Nordic used VPAID tags to promote its new video game, “SpongeBob SquarePants: The Cosmic Shake.” The advertisement, which exceeded Innovid engagement benchmarks by 13x, leveraged the reach of Paramount’s EyeQ Kids & Family content bundle alongside the interactive creative capabilities of Innovid. 

VPAID tags also help advertisers:

  • Eliminate issues with tracking implementation
  • Allow for real-time ad blocking
  • Detect and eliminate fraud
  • Provide full insight into where and how a video is running

Limitations of VPAID

Not all publishers accept VPAID tags across every device. Interactive ads will only play on VPAID-compatible publishers. 

🚫This can exclude inventory on mobile and CTV. 

🚫VPAID tags can cause slower load times on mobile.

VPAID vs VAST: Which to choose for your next campaign?

Both VPAID and VAST help advertisers get their message to consumers. VAST is the standard—it’s widely accepted. VPAID tags allow advertisers to deliver highly engaging ads with more robust insights, but are limited to VPAID-enabled video players. VAST tags lack viewability metrics, but reach across more publishers. 

At Innovid, we support both tag types. We also have a dedicated team that proactively certifies publishers for acceptance of these tags, so advertisers can achieve maximum reach, and ultimately receive all of the metrics that are crucial to understanding their campaigns.

Learn more about advertising with Innovid here!