Introducing Twitter Pre-Roll with VAST

AdParlor Blog Post: Introducing Twitter Pre-Roll with VAST

Twitter’s previously partnership-exclusive pre-roll ad inventory is finally open to the broader advertising market—and it’ll be a difference-maker for advertisers that want to complement their TV spends. With newly introduced support for Video Ad Serving Template (VAST) tags, Twitter pre-roll enables advertisers to bridge the gap from video to social. AdParlor is proud to be one of the only Twitter Official Partners to offer full pre-roll functionality with VAST tag support.

So What Exactly is Twitter Pre-Roll?

Twitter pre-roll offers advertisers the ability to run video “bumper” ads in front of share-worthy video content on Twitter. Think of it as an extension of TV and native video advertising: it’s the best of both worlds, combining content-focused and user-centric targeting to enable advertisers to reach the coveted mobile, Millennial demographic. And it happens just as they’re engaging with high quality, premium video content on Twitter. There are lots of trusted content publishers participating in the pre-roll program, covering sports, news and entertainment.

How Do Twitter Pre-Roll Ads Work?

Twitter Pre-Roll Diagram: how does it work?

Why Introduce VAST—and Why Now?

VAST tags are URLs used to request ad media and tracking information from a server that’s separate from the publisher where the ads actually appear. They are the industry standard for digital video, as they enable advertisers to configure their own tracking, host media in a single place, and define their own reporting standards—in addition, advertisers using these templates enable the publisher serving these ads to simply plug-and-play without any custom development required. It’s a win-win for everyone in the digital video space—until they try to break into the social space.

With the rise of ad blockers, digital video advertisers are being forced to expand their horizons beyond traditional display and native ad inventory and into the realm of social media. VAST tags are generally not supported by social channels for a number of reasons; they include content ownership, censorship concerns, and latency of ad delivery. However, this lack of support is a deterrent for advertisers as it means they need to:

  • Create and maintain accounts on each social media platform
  • Host their videos in disparate sources
  • Rely on the tracking capabilities of each platform, or find ways to integrate their own tracking
  • Convert from each platform’s own definition of what constitutes as a view (link to video blog post) so they can make accurate comparisons between advertising initiatives

This means social media channels may be missing out on a significant portion of the overall digital ad market. Twitter’s initiative in introducing VAST support greatly alleviates these pain points for video advertisers that want to tap into the social market. But why now? It’s no secret that consumers are increasingly turning to in-app, mobile video for their everyday informational and entertainment needs, and advertisers need to follow suit. This foray into the world of VAST marks the emergence of a significant turning point in the world of online advertising: where the lines between traditional digital and social are becoming remarkably blurred.

What You Need to Know About Twitter’s Pre-Roll

There are a few important distinctions between Twitter pre-roll, and pre-roll on other publishers:

Feature Twitter’s Pre-Roll Pre-Roll (in general)
Length Any length up to 10 minutes :06, :15, :30
Skippability Videos :06 or less are unskippable, :07 or more are skippable immediately Usually unskippable for first :05, or not at all
Offsite Redirections CTAs appear during video as distinct button CTAs appear after video or on click of video
VAST Support for VAST 2.0 and 3.0 tags Typically for display/native only
MRC Metrics Available for bidding and for reporting purposes On social, video views are subject to each publisher’s definition
Bidding CPV—choose which definition of a “view” to pay for:
MRC (Media Rating Council) definition: 50% of pixels in view for :02 or more
Twitter definition: 100% of pixels in view for :03 or more, or user has clicked to play video
CPM/CPV as per publisher’s discretion
Content Targeting
  • Guaranteed access to premium content produced by selected publishers
  • Ability to inclusion and exclusion target IAB Content Categories
  • Ability to blacklist specific content publisher handles
Publisher-dependent but often very broad, which includes user-generated content with no guarantees for brand safety or quality
People-Based Targeting Location, age, gender, language, device, platform, carrier Publisher-dependent, but often completely lacking

Twitter pre-roll, as a broader offering, is still very much in its infancy. Advertisers getting involved now have many advantages at being early to market:

  • New placement and objective mean little competition for inventory
  • Separate auction from other placements means cheaper CPV rates
  • Relatively novel experience for users on Twitter means ads are less disruptive and more memorable


Twitter pre-roll is finally open to the public. It’s the only pre-roll experience available in a live environment, with exclusive access to brand safe, premium content. Newly introduced support for VAST tags enables streamlined buying and reporting, making the switch to social just that little bit easier. Finally, AdParlor is one of the only Twitter Official Partner to provide access to the full suite of pre-roll tools, including VAST tags.

Advantage: AdParlor…because that’s just how we (pre) roll.

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