Interactive Advertising Bureau
24 June 2024

Guest Member Blog Post - Six Reasons VAST 4.3 Can Help Improve the Viewer Experience with FreeWheel

In this week's member guest blog post, we caught up with Emmanuel Josserand, Sr Dir. Agency, Brand, and Industry Relations at FreeWheel to understand how the latest VAST 4.3 can improve the viewer experience and the benefits to the ad buyers who adopt it.

At the end of 2022, the IAB Tech Lab released its Video Ad Serving Template (VAST) 4.3,
further improving the standards set out in its major updates to VAST in 2016.
VAST’s purpose is to enhance “the delivery and measurement of video advertising, including
sophisticated delivery and tracking options for clients, the ability to select ads dynamically for
insertion, and a more seamless experience for the viewer.”
So, how does it deliver on this and what benefits does it bring to the video ad buyers that
adopt it?

1. Improving Ad Performance

VAST 4.3 is intended to give ad buyers more granular control over video ad serving, for
instance by supporting a wider range of resolutions. This has the potential to significantly
enhance the quality of the viewing experience for users, in turn contributing to stronger ad

Importantly, the latest iteration offers advanced tracking and reporting capabilities such as standardizing measurability and reporting of creatives in a way that strikes a balance between advertisers' needs and reliable play-out for premium video. Additionally, it allows media agencies and advertisers to monitor viewability metrics in real time, for instance, which enables them to optimise their ad campaigns in flight and generate uplifts to ROI.

2. Increasing transparency

VAST 4.3 also includes a number of features which are intended to provide greater visibility
into the ad-serving process. It supports third-party verification and measurement tools, to
help buyers ensure their ads are being served to their desired audience. Additionally, VAST
4.3 adds additional features to support greater brand safety and competitive separation.

3. Enabling Flexibility

The latest version of VAST is designed to be highly flexible, supporting a rich variety of ad
formats, allowing buyers to customise their ad campaigns and tailor them for specific
objectives and requirements. Advertisers and media agencies can thereby craft more
engaging and effective advertising experiences for audiences. With the ability to use a mix of
formats and channels to drive awareness, consideration, and conversion, it enables them to
make an impact all along the marketing funnel.

4. Ensuring Creativity and Compliance

In the UK market, broadcasters required to comply with the UK Code of Broadcast
Advertising are asked to undergo an ad pre-screening process with Clearcast. Broadcasters
need to provide Clearcast with UniversalAdId (UAID), which is used for tracking ad creative,
and therefore a DSP must implement UAID to access premium video supply from UK

For global advertisers and agencies, certifying that their ad creative meets mandated local
requirements, supports premium inventory owners with managing both compliance and the
advertising experience. Increasingly, it appears that providing UAID from a recognised
registry, such as the AD-ID® program in VAST 4.3, is becoming a more widely accepted
way of doing this. As a result, VAST can help to reduce complexity and improve efficiency in
the ecosystem.

As David Rasmusson, Product Manager at Viaplay puts it: "At a time when ad effectiveness
is highly scrutinised and impactful creatives are critical for grabbing attention, the buy-side
and the wider industry has a lot to gain by embracing the latest VAST standard. Some
technology is not yet taking advantage of the new features, but soon we will get both
improvements in compliance with industry regulations, as well as better data for advertisers
to optimize their campaigns from."

5. Preserving Quality with Standardisation

Another challenge VAST 4.3 look to help advertisers and media agencies overcome is
ensuring ads are delivered in a standardised way.

Typically, ad servers have used various declared attributes, including file size and content
type, to determine which media file is best to pass. The issue this leads to is that ad servers
can receive varied responses from demand partners on what media files are being
presented, causing unintended quality issues. The aim of VAST 4.3 is to ensure compatibility
across video channels and the ad servers, ad stitching services, and video players that
enable advertising on them. VAST addresses some of the above challenges in different
ways. It is intended to support a raw, high-quality file that ad stitching services can then use
to create media files which meet the quality level of specific video players. It also looks to
provide standardisation guidelines for three ready-to-serve video files at low, medium, and
high-quality levels to ensure an ad can always play.

6. Solving for Interactivity

Buyers increasingly rely on ads with interactive components to understand how audiences
respond and engage with their campaigns. Not all channels and media owners support this
ad format, however. To help increase adoption, VAST aims to provide interactive templates
that better enable publishers to run interactive ads and looks to support stronger
performance and ad measurement for advertisers and media agencies.

"The industry has been lagging behind and rather slow in implementing the new VAST
format. However, recent changes around the use of Vpaid have created many issues
particularly detrimental to the user experience so adopting VAST 4.3 has now become a
necessity for our industry’
’, said Vincent Salini, Commercial Director, Digital at France
Télévision Publicité. ‘’It does require some efforts, but it can unlock some compelling
advantages for video ad buyers. By improving compatibility, transparency, and the ability to
comply with local regulations, it helps advertisers and media agencies stay ahead of the
curve in a rapidly advancing video landscape.’’

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