Posted on Mar 13, 2024

Optimizing Video Delivery: Overcoming and Preventing VAST Errors

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Driving better engagement, video ads are popular among both advertisers and publishers. While marketers get an opportunity to increase conversion rates, publishers monetize their ad inventory. However, if a VAST error occurs, the visitor’s experience gets disrupted, which means a missed opportunity for digital advertisers and publishers.

In this guide, we will review different types of VAST video error codes and explain how to overcome them to ensure the ultimate advertising experience.

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What are VAST Errors and Why Do They Occur?

A VAST error is a general term for numerous VAST error codes. Any of them means that there is an issue between the server that is hosting the advertisement and the video player. As a result, the ad is not displayed as it’s supposed to or simply not played at all.

Note that video errors can be divided into two main groups: fatal and potentially fatal. In the case of a fatal error, the player aborts the failed request or requests another ad. The initial advertisement brings no revenue to the publisher, as it’s not served, while the advertiser doesn’t reach a user. If a potentially fatal error occurs, the ad may still be played. Let’s review several standard VAST errors. 

Error 100: XML Parsing Error

Being on the list of VAST fatal errors, this issue can take place due to multiple reasons: if a URL redirect fails, if the advertiser’s response is garbled, or if an XML document is invalid. 

Error 102: VAST Response Version Isn’t Supported

This fatal VAST video error takes place if a player doesn’t support the bid request’s VAST version. Alternatively, the wrong version may be sent by the ad exchange.

Error 303: Empty VAST Response 

This error, also fatal, implies the absence of an ad within a returned response. It generally occurs due to a request contained within a third-party wrapper.

Error 200: Trafficking Error

This error is among potentially fatal VAST drop codes — it means that the player received an ad type that it was not expecting, so it may not be displayed. For instance, the player expected a skippable linear ad but received a linear advertisement.

Error 202: Video Player Expects Different Duration

Being another potentially fatal error, this issue occurs if the creative’s duration differs from the specified one. For example, this can happen due to the exchange sending the wrong duration in the request.

Here you can find out the full list of VAST fatal error codes. IAB provided a detailed definition for each of them, along with causes and required actions. As for the most common reasons, here they are: 

  • In case the Internet connection is poor (or if the page isn’t optimized), the request may simply time out; 
  • The discrepancy in advertising formats (like in the case of error 200) may not lead to fatal issues, but it’s still important for media buyers to respect the publishers’ requirements, including skippable attributes, duration, linearity, etc.; 
  • Missing VAST tag elements or those including typos prevent the player from processing the request;
  • A high number of empty responses may result in the player reaching its wrapper limit. As a result, no ads are shown.
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Overcoming VAST Issues: Practical Solutions

The IAB guide provides explanations on debugging, but there are also some general recommendations to consider. Therefore, let’s review a couple of techniques on how to resolve VAST errors. 

Stay Updated

Staying updated with the latest VAST versions decreases the number of potential issues since every update implies new improvements and features. Besides, publishers need to keep their video players up to date to prevent and solve compatibility problems. 

Optimize Video Content

Video sizes and formats may affect the loading time and result in a VAST error. For advertisers, it’s crucial to optimize video files (for instance, by applying compression techniques) to reduce the probability of an error or to solve the issue.

Create Multiple Tags

Another technique to consider is providing multiple VAST tags, each of them having a different ad source. In case one tag fails, one of the spare options will still deliver the ad.

Preventing Future Issues: Best Practices

The fixing and prevention of VAST issues heavily relies on collaboration between advertisers and publishers. For instance, in case of an XML parsing error, a publisher has to inform a media buyer about the issue so that an advertiser can verify the document. 

However, it’s also essential to perform continuous error tracking. It allows for detecting and resolving VAST issues as soon as they occur and helps understand what can be done to avoid them in the future.

Apart from this, testing VAST tags in diverse environments is a way to ensure compatibility and proper functioning. For advertisers, it would also be helpful to prefer a DSP supporting automated creative scanning — such a feature can pre-emptively solve potential problems. One more tip to consider is that validating VAST tags and responses helps detect issues from the very beginning. This can be done with special tools.

You may also take benefit from our step-by-step guide on how to create winning video ads with VAST tags.

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Consider SmartHub Your Trusted Partner

SmartHub, a white-label ad exchange solution, supports VAST integration, including the VAST to All, VAST to RTB, and VAST to VAST integration options. This way, you get multiple opportunities to earn on media trading, and the launch of your platform will take around one week (or a bit more in case you have specific requirements). 

Note that as an ad exchange owner, you aren’t responsible for preventing all the VAST issues (for instance, you cannot optimize the publishers’ websites or video ads themselves). However, you can still minimize their probability to ensure the proper performance of your platform. When creating endpoints for your supply and demand partners, apply as many settings as possible, including ad size, player size, and others. This will allow for effective matching and, as a result, a decreased number of video issues. 

For instance, Toucan Ads planned to increase profit from video ads, and the company achieved its goal after deploying SmartHub. Within 3 months Toucan Ads got payback, and within 6 months doubled ROI and profit growth. You can achieve the same heights.

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