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Getting Ready for HTML5 Video Ad Delivery

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During the last year, the online video advertising industry has grown dramatically in terms of dollars spent and video ads delivered. The growth of the online video advertising industry continues to exceed all expectations, which is great news for everyone involved.

From a technical perspective, however, online video advertising is still very much in its infancy. As in the early days of the web, changing standards and inconsistent implementation both present a moving target for companies in this space. This is a particular challenge for ad operations departments, who are faced with untangling a plethora of complex technical issues that make it hard to focus on the simple tasks of forecasting, trafficking and reporting. For those of us on the engineering side of this puzzle, our task going forward is nothing less than making these challenges disappear, so the industry can focus on the business of advertising.

One area where these challenges are growing is HTML5 ad delivery. On top of the existing limitations for mobile devices that cannot display Flash, the impending release of Windows 8 may inspire a significant bump in HTML5 video inventory across the web. The time for ad-tech to shore up HTML5 is now, before further changes are upon us. Unfortunately, much of the code the industry runs on is tied in to Flash, which means there is a significant amount of work ahead.

Thankfully, the first step in this process is a painless one. For ads to flow, ad tags need to work, and this means VAST. However, in an HTML5 / JavaScript environment, two headers have to be set on the ad server or this cannot happen. Implementing the required headers is simple:

LiveRail recently completed support for calling third-party VAST tags from HTML5, and most companies with client-side code have at least begun this work. But with many ad networks still missing the required headers, publishers are missing the opportunity to implement their delivery relationships in HTML5.

So, this is a friendly shout-out to ad networks — the sooner everyone adds these headers, the sooner the industry as a whole can iron out HTML5 delivery so the upcoming shift is a smooth one and not a bumpy ride.