Understanding VAST Advertising Tags

Bunny Stream allows you to easily configure advertising options through the use of VAST tags, a standardised way of adding advertisements to video players. 

What are VAST tags?

VAST is a universal XML schema for serving ads to video players. It describes the expected video player behavior and provides instructions on how the player should deliver the programmed ad integration. 

When an ad request is made by a video player, the VAST tag is provided by the ad server (the CDN sends a link to the ad server along with the video). The video player then parses the VAST tag and retrieves the necessary information to display the video ad. The VAST tag acts as a communication bridge between the ad server and the video player, ensuring that the correct ad is delivered and that tracking and reporting functions are properly implemented.

How do VAST tags work?

VAST tags have some key components inside to make them work, there is a good example from Google here: https://developers.google.com/interactive-media-ads/docs/sdks/html5/client-side/tags

1) Ad Wrapper: A VAST tag can wrap other tags as well as directly containing the advert itself in order to provide for things like chain optimisation and multiple adverts

2) Ad Creative: This part of the tag determines where the media files needed to show the advert are, including the video file itself, any banners that may run alongside the advert and any other assets needed to make the advert work.

3) Click-through URLs: VAST tags let an advertiser encode a URL that viewers are redirected/taken too when they interact with the ad. These can lead to landing pages, additional videos or most commonly, external websites. 

4) Tracking Events: VAST tags support a way for an ad player to report the progress of the ad-playback, including impressions, quartile tracking (e.g. has 25%, 50%, 75% of the video been played) and then ultimately when the entire ad session is over. This is crucial so the person adding the advert to the video can get paid, and so advertisers can measure the performance and engagement of the adverts.

5) Error reporting: VAST tags often include a way for a player/client to report it ran into some sort of issue while playing the advert to the user, to ensure full troubleshooting and delivery optimisation (e.g. Realtime User Metrics may be collected to help ensure smoother playback in future sessions).

There are good samples of VAST tags here: 

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