Commentary

What Does The MRAID Video Addendum Mean for VPAID?

  • by March 30, 2015
Today the IAB announced support for a Video Addendum to MRAID.  Since MRAID is technically a rich-media standard rather than a video standard, and since the VPAID video standard already exists, many people may find this move confusing.  So let’s clear up the confusion and try to understand how the two standards fit together. 

If this seems out of context, you may want to revisit my article from 2013, which outlines the similarities and differences between MRAID and VPAID, and which makes a case for the introduction of the standard announced today.

What is the MRAID Video Addendum?

At its core, this addendum boils down to an agreement between ad vendors and SDK providers to enable advertisers and agencies to run interactive video in in-app placements:

  • Track video metrics (quartiles, completions, etc.) in a standardized way, using relevant VPAID events to do so.
  • Count impressions for mobile ads sold as video (rather than rich media) when the video starts to play, which is in line with how video impressions are counted on the desktop.
  • Handle certain other necessary functions (initialization, click-throughs, etc.) in a standardized way.

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Why add video capabilities to a rich-media standard (MRAID) rather than extend a video standard (VPAID) across the mobile ecosystem?

Long-term, it may be the case that VPAID evolves into the dominant cross-platform video standard, which would include mobile. However, there are a few reasons that we believe adding support for video to MRAID makes sense to meet the short to mid-term needs of agencies and advertisers:

  • The existing mobile ecosystem is largely compatible with MRAID, and the nature of the ecosystem makes it slow to update. App owners need to integrate new versions of SDK, push a new app release, and then wait for it to propagate across the user base.
  • VPAID is a player-centric standard (the P stands for player) and we believe there is a case for in-stream-like ad experiences in-app within apps that have no need for a video player (games, etc.).
  • VPAID adoption on the mobile side has been proceeding very slowly, for the reasons above in addition to a few others.

 

If I’m a publisher, is it better to adopt the MRAID Video Addendum or HTML5 VPAID to support interactive video executions on mobile?

This depends on the technology you currently have in place and the content you are showing.  If you’re a video-centric company with a cross-platform player and apps, VPAID may be the best approach. If you’re a company with apps that do something other than play video all the time, you may want to take the MRAID route, especially if you’ve already implemented MRAID support.

One important limitation to take note of is that the iPhone does not play inline video on the mobile Web. Rather, the video is handed over to the native player, which means nothing can be rendered on top of it. This can present a problem for companies hoping to take a mobile web-centric approach.

What’s next?

Discussions are underway to see how VPAID can evolve to better account for mobile environments. For the remainder of this year, adoption of the MRAID Video Addendum will hopefully help to solve inventory and publisher compatibility issues for those agencies and advertisers who want to run interactive video on mobile, which makes a lot of sense given these devices have touchscreens.

Regardless, I commend the IAB for taking a pragmatic approach to solving current inventory issues rather than waiting for a longer-term shakeout of two standards. This is a great step forward to enable more and better cross-platform video ad experiences.

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