The Ultimate Starter Guide to Video Ad Serving & VAST [2023]

What is Video Ad Serving

Did you know about What is Video Ad Serving, if yes then this article is for you. We will be discussing What is Video Ad Serving. Read on for more.

Whether it’s streamed over OTT/CTV, displayed on mobile devices or desktop PCs, video remains a favourite content medium for both audiences and advertisers alike. But, ad serving processes for videos differ slightly from those for standard display ads, which presents both challenges and opportunities when it comes to building advertising campaigns around this popular ad type.

What is Video Ad Serving

In a standard ad serving configuration for non-video ads, an ad tag on a webpage communicates ad requests directly to various other parts of the ad tech ecosystem. But, when it comes to video ad serving, this process requires more components to accommodate the specific requirements of the ad – including how the ad should be loaded into and played within the video player itself. This is where a special ad tag known as a VAST (Video Ad Serving Template) tag comes into play.

When a VAST tag is found on a page, the ad server recognizes that an ad request is being made and it provides the ad markup required by the video ad. This includes details about the media file needed to be loaded into and displayed within the video player – as well as information such as ad creative ID, dimensions, events to take place on click and more.

The ad player then pings the tracking URLs and/or pixels included in the VAST inline response – allowing the publisher, advertiser or any other advertising parties involved to track the results of the impression on their own platforms. The process described above also applies to other types of video ad units, such as companion display ads or interactive video ads.

Different Types of Video Ad Formats With Examples

Publishers have a wide range of video ad formats to choose from for their monetization strategies. Each type has its advantages and disadvantages, and it’s important to understand their specifications before launching your ads on each platform. For example, some types of videos have specific file size requirements and ratios.

A good way to start is by considering your marketing goals and audiences. Your goals answer the ‘why’ question of your ad strategy, while your audience’s demographics and locations answer the ‘who’. Knowing where your audiences gather will help you avoid investing in ad formats that won’t get you the results you want.

Another factor to consider is the length of your video ads. It’s best to keep it short and concise, as users can be distracted easily with a long video ad. Also, video ads that run on social media tend to be shorter than other formats, because platforms like Instagram and Snapchat are vertical.

If you’re running linear video ads on YouTube, Facebook or Instagram, the number of views your ad receives is a key KPI to track. Views are defined as unique users that watch a video ad to its end if it’s less than 30 seconds, or at least cover 50% of the screen if it’s more than 30 seconds.

With non-linear video ad formats, such as pre-roll or post-roll ads, a view is counted when a user watches a full video ad or at least the least number of seconds required for that ad type on that platform. Outstream video ad formats can also be used to promote products and services, build brand awareness and encourage online purchases among users.

Instream Ad

People tend to love ads that are creative, entertaining, and relevant to their interests. In fact, according to Social Media Marketing World, 42% of respondents said that they will click on a video ad at least once a week. The good news is that in-stream videos can be targeted to viewers who might have the same demographics or interests as your target audience, meaning that they are more likely to turn into sales and conversions than standard non-retargeted ads.

The other great thing about in-stream videos is that they’re non-intrusive, because the viewer has already opted-in to watch video content. That being said, in-stream video ads can still be a little annoying to some people, particularly if the ad is too long or unskippable.

One way to avoid this is by using a video ad that is short and highly targeted, and by only showing the ad in environments where it’s most likely to be appreciated. Additionally, making the ad unskippable will increase its chances of being watched all the way through.

Another way to reduce the risk of irritation from your in-stream video ad is by using the Facebook Brand Safety tools that are built into Ads Manager and Power Editor. These ensure that your ad is not shown alongside or next to any content that might damage your brand image and are available on all formats including mobile, desktop, OTT, and CTV.

Linear Video Ads

Linear Video Ads are video ad experiences that play before (pre-roll), along with or after (mid-roll) streaming content. They are a form of in-stream video advertising that allows marketers to monetize their content with ads that are like TV commercials.

Linear ad formats are highly visible and captivate attention with eye-catching visuals and compelling messages that resonate with audiences. They also deliver high consumer engagement and measurable results.

But, with cord-cutting and OTT adoption rising, linear advertising is becoming less profitable than it was before. Additionally, ad blocking technologies are making it difficult to reach viewers online. But the right media agency can make planning and buying linear ads easy, ensuring your brand’s message is seen by the people most likely to respond.

Also to traditional TV, CTV offers a wide range of programming that can help you target specific demographics and deliver a tailored message that drives real-world results. Whether you’re looking to reach older audiences who prefer linear TV or you’re looking for a new growth lever in the face of privacy concerns and digital skepticism, CTV offers an opportunity to reach a large audience with targeted advertising campaigns that are highly effective and measurable.

The baby boomer generation is retiring and moving into their golden years, but they still spend more money per household than any other generation. With over 68 million Americans in this age group, linear TV is still an effective way to reach this affluent audience with messaging that aligns with their values.

Non-Linear Video Ads

The rise of social media over the past 10 years has shifted video creative towards more humorous or emotional content that is often non-linear in nature. This trend is also seen in the use of iBeacons that combine context and customer data to trigger more relevant, personalised ads – for example O2’s ‘Switch for Better’ campaign.

Typically mimicking television commercials, linear online video ads play before (pre-roll), along with (mid-roll) or after (post-roll) streaming video content. They normally run for either 15 or 30 seconds and are not interrupted when users fast forward.

In-stream video ads are one of the best options for publishers to push their products or services to an engaged audience. They are a great way to increase brand awareness and build a relationship with potential customers.

Nonlinear Video Ads are an innovative ad product that aims to reduce friction with video advertising by giving viewers more control over their engagement. Generally displayed in the bottom of the video screen, they occupy a small and unobtrusive part of the video content. When clicked, the ad product puts the video content on hold and triggers an expanded version of the ad that can provide more engagement opportunities like click-through to a business website or sign up link. The expanded ad can be closed or collapsed at any time, which places the onus of ending the ad experience with the viewer rather than the advertiser.

About Outstream Ads

In the advertising world, outstream video ads are a relatively new form of online video advertising that allow publishers to showcase their brand in an engaging and effective way. These ads can be placed on a website within a video player, or embedded in content that is not video (like text). They are usually played auto-play and do not need the user to interact with them. They can also be paused, or expanded into a full-video player for interaction if users choose to engage.

Outstream ads offer many benefits including better viewability, higher click-through rates, and the ability to be targeted more effectively. But they can be difficult to manage, especially when paired with other formats like pre-roll and banners. They are also heavier on the back-end of the website and can slow it down. And since they are not as well-known as instream video ads, they tend to be more difficult to find in ad marketplaces and are often bid on as part of a bundled campaign with other formats.

Regardless of their drawbacks, outstream ads can be an excellent way to increase revenue for publishers that are looking for ways to diversify their portfolio of ads. But it is important for them to be optimized and managed correctly to ensure the highest performance possible. That’s where Setupad comes in – we are experts at running high-quality outstream ads for our clients. Contact us today to learn more about our services and get started on a free trial!

Companion Display Ads

Companion Display Ads are image or HTML display ads that run alongside audio ads on devices with screens. In audio advertising, companion banners can help engage listeners with click-through URLs and other content that relates to the audio being played. Companions can be displayed after the video ad stops playing (end-card) or alongside the audio creative for the duration of the audio ad (concurrent).

In YouTube ads, companion banners can direct viewers to an external website or specific YouTube channel, and they can also appear in certain situations on the YouTube watch page, such as when a featured video is being watched. They are easy to set up and offer extra ad real estate that can help increase clicks on your videos.

The ad tag used to request in-stream and overlay video ads can also be used to automatically request HTML companions using the IMA SDK, as long as the ad tag is loaded on the main web page, and not inside of an IFrame. To use the IMA SDK to request and display companions, you need to include an event listener that is invoked whenever the ad tag requests video or overlay ads.

The function used to call the companion listener is getCompanionAdsList(). It takes an Array as input, containing companion ads data. The Array can be filtered by various parameters such as companionAdSlotWidth, companionAdSlotHeight and the companionAdsOptions object. The Array is sorted by the desired companionAdSlotHeight and returned in a form that can be passed to a Google IMA compatible SDK for further processing.

How to Video Ad Serving Works

When it comes to online advertising, ad servers play a crucial role in determining which ads should be served based on ad requests / ad calls made from users’ browsers. As an example, when a user visits a website, their browser sends a request to the ad server asking “What should I display?”. The ad server then responds by loading in the selected ad creative which is ultimately displayed to the visitor.

With video advertising, the process is slightly more complex due to the involvement of a video player in the mix. Fortunately, there are standardized protocols in place that help to simplify the process. These include VAST (Video Ad Serving Template) and VPAID (Video Player Ad Interface Definition). Both of these protocols act as a bridge between the video player and ad servers, making it possible to serve video content to a wide range of video ad formats and units.

The first step in serving video ads begins when the publisher’s ad server programmatically decides which video ad to display and returns a VAST inline response to the player. This is usually followed by a VAST wrapper, which contains all the information necessary for the video player to execute the requested video ad.

There are many different types of instream video ads, including linear video ads (which take over the entire video stream and can be skippable after a specified time), pre-roll ads, mid-roll ads, post-roll ads and even companion video ads which are often used as banner ads within social media feeds. In general, the effectiveness of a video ad can be enhanced when it is highly relevant to its audience – which can be achieved through many techniques such as demographics & intent-based targeting.

How Do Video Players Interact With Ad Servers?

As the name suggests, video players communicate with ad servers to display advertising content. Video ad servers manage campaign data and provide reporting on impressions, clicks, cost, ROI, and more. Publishers need to know how much their ads are earning them, and agencies need to know whether their campaigns are reaching the right people the right number of times. Ad servers spit out this information in milliseconds, often before a page even loads.

A video player starts by sending a call to the ad server asking for a video ad. If the ad server can provide one, it efficiently returns a VAST XML that contains an executable video ad unit ready to be displayed in the video player. The video player parses this ad, sets the ad creatives, and fires an adStarted request back to the ad server to track impressions and other events.

Linear ads play at specified intervals during a piece of video content, pausing the original content until the ad is finished or skipped. These are some of the most effective forms of video ad serving, but they do come with their own set of challenges. Companion ads synchronize with the original video content to create a branded experience for viewers, and can be text links, image banners, or Rich Media ads. Non-linear video ads can be any length, but typically take up a part of the screen and may include visual creative elements. They can be closed at any time and are often referred to as overlay ads.

What is VAST Video Ad Serving Template?

VAST (Video Ad Serving Template) is an IAB-approved XML schema that allows in-stream video ads to be delivered from ad servers to many publishers/video players on websites and devices. This is an industry standard that is meant to improve compatibility between different video ad servers and the growing variety of video players that are located on various websites/devices.

Video ad formats such as VAST are designed to simplify the process of video advertising for both advertisers and publishers. VAST tags tell the video player what to retrieve, when to render and the ad media type along with ad length, format, duration, tracking information and pricing. The VAST tag also specifies the video ad to be displayed such as pre-roll, mid-roll or post-roll, and it is possible to specify whether the ad is skippable.

When a VAST-compliant ad server receives a request from the video player, it sends back an XML response that includes the creatives to be rendered. The video player then parses the ad metadata and executes the ad, providing the viewer with a smooth, seamless experience.

VAST enables advertisers and publishers to serve linear, non-linear and companion ads to viewers via one-way communication between the ad server and the video player. To support interactive advertising that requires two-way communication, VAST is supplemented by VPAID. The VPAID standard is more advanced than VAST and provides more metrics such as ad verification, viewability execution and check.

Read More Use Yoast SEO: Complete Guide to Improve Your SEO

Frequently Asked Questions :

What is a video ad server?

Video ad servers: An AdTech platform that provides advertisers with centralized storage, tracking and delivery of video ads. Ad servers also help publishers manage campaign tags from advertisers and make decisions about which video ads to show.

What is the ad serving process?

A publisher’s ad server processes millions of buyer requests and chooses the best paying ad in milliseconds. Then it redirects the browser to the marketer’s ad server and fetches the ad creative from the content delivery network (CDN). Finally, the ad is retrieved and successfully downloaded on the web page.

Why is ad serving necessary?

To summarize, an ad server helps you manage the entire scope of your digital marketing efforts in one place: from media planning, ad trafficking and targeting, to serving, optimization, verification and reporting.


Whether it’s streamed over OTT/CTV, displayed on mobile devices or desktop PCs, video remains a favourite content medium for both audiences and advertisers alike.

But, ad serving processes for videos differ slightly from those for standard display ads, which presents both challenges and opportunities when it comes to building advertising campaigns around this popular ad type.

This article should have provided you with some knowledge about What is Video Ad Serving. Please let us know in the comments area if you have any questions.

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *