June 20, 2017 by Sara Jabbari

What’s the Difference Between VAST and VPAID?

In video advertising, there are two important terms that all advertisers must be familiar with: VAST and VPAID. The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) created these specifications in 2008 and 2012 respectively, as solutions to the challenges facing video advertisers. While at first glance they might sound complicated, here we breakdown what these terms really mean.


VAST, which stands for “Video Ad Serving Template,” was created in response to advertisers having to develop multiple specialized versions of their video ads so that they would be able to function on different video players on publishing websites. Created in 2008, VAST was designed to facilitate the communication between different video players and ad servers so that any video ad would comply with all video player types. 

In a nutshell, it uses an XML script to give the video player specific instructions on serving the ad, such as which ad creative should play, how it should show up in the player, how long it should be displayed for, whether or not is skippable and where to find the original file. By establishing this universal, standard set of rules between video players and ad units, VAST eliminates the cost and time traditionally associated with custom-coding in-stream video ads. It not only benefits advertisers by ensuring that their video ads run with ease on all video players, but it benefits publishers as well by creating more monetizable and compatible demand.

Sample VAST tag


This is a sample basic ad tag. Notice how the media file points to the video file of the ad. 

If you want to dig deeper into it, here is IAB’s detailed VAST documentation and specifications.


While VAST sets a standard way for serving in-stream ads on video players, VPAID goes a step further by establishing a common interface that supports rich interactivity. VPAID, “Video Player Ad-Serving Interface Definition,” allows video players to support “executable ads” - i.e. ads which provide an interactive user experience - and collect important data on these interaction metrics. For example, a VPAID code running within a video player is able to record when a user clicks on an overlay, plays and pauses the content, or closes the in-stream ad. These insights give advertisers the ability to measure the effectiveness and performance of individual ads, which they can then improve for better interactivity.

Because VAST only supported simple in-stream video ad formats, VPAID was created to enable this new ad interactivity. It therefore offers an enhanced solution when layered on top of VAST. While it benefits advertisers in diversifying and monitoring their ads, publishers compatible with VPAID are able to accept a larger range of ads and sell inventory at premium prices as they provide more value to advertisers.

Sample VAST tag pointing to a VPAID creative


Notice how the creative now points to a javascript application.

See a real life VPAID example here.

For more information, click here for IAB’s detailed VPAID documentation and specifications.


While we can compare VAST and VPAID, these two specifications were born for different purposes and should therefore be used together, rather than independently. While VAST made the process of serving video ads more efficient and scalable, as video advertising became more sophisticated and new ad formats emerged, its limitations led to a specification that would be equipped to deal with these new formats. VAST and VPAID are mutually beneficial to advertisers and publishers,  but because VPAID builds upon VAST by adding a new level of interactivity and reporting, it provides more capabilities than VAST does alone.

Discover how to monetize your site with VAST and VPAID formats at www.pulpix.com/monetization/


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