Standards could lead to a greater adoption of online video ads

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YouTube supports a variety of video ad formats
YouTube supports a variety of video ad formats

Over the last few years, online video consumption has grown exponentially. However, video advertising has failed to meet the expectations of investors — even the most popular publishers struggle to sell sufficient inventory.

A frequently cited reason for this is a lack of standards between video players and servers, so the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) has recently released a digital video ad serving template, known colloqui­ally as VAST, for public comment.

Its primary goal is to create a standard interface for both players and servers, allow­ing publishers to use any third-party server or network without incurring additional development or reformatting costs.

Standards would serve ideally as a cata­lyst for growth in online video advertising, and VAST is generally welcomed by the industry as a first step towards back-end integration. “The IAB is building a base that will make it easier in the long term for people to do business together and increase the amount spent on video adver­tising,” said Robert Black, business devel­opment director for UTarget “It is not going to happen overnight, but stimulating the debate about video advertising online [as this does] is very positive.”

Tania Yuki, senior product manager for ComScore's Video Metrix adds, “Stan­dards [help to] create a language and a framework within which advertisers and publishers can buy and sell inventory, and [agree on] how success is measured.”

The interactive advertising community has until September 10 to provide input on the document, something of a challenge for an industry not accustomed to standards. “Online video advertising is a competi­tive space, with many doing things differ­ently from each other,” Yuki explained. “It is challenging to reach consensus in such a rapidly evolving environment.”

In addition to publishers generating greater revenue, it's possible that con­sumers may experience a positive side effect from formal standards as well. Should advertisers warm up to online video advertising, agencies will gain more experience with the medium, and feel more comfortable developing shorter ads more appropriate for online viewing.

“There is no reason to run a 30-second ad in front of content that is two minutes long,” Black said. “The drop off rate is too high, and it creates a bad user experience. But, professionally made short form con­tent is here to stay, and creates a wonderful opportunity for advertisers to target a large audience. It needs to be embraced.”

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