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An Advertiser’s Guide to Connected TV Ad Specs

Published: Jul. 06, 2023

Crafting the perfect ad creative for a connected TV campaign is an intensive process. It requires brainstorming, testing, and thinking outside the box.

But there’s another side to ad creative. Visuals, storylines, and other creative aspects are vital, as are the technical aspects — like file size, file type, and bitrate. In other words, without the right ad specs, your hard work will likely go to waste.

But navigating the world of CTV ad specs can be confusing. What resolution does Hulu require? Does Paramount+ require a specific file type? To help you navigate the space, we’ll break down what connected TV advertisers need to know about their ad specs below.

Connected TV Advertising Specs: The Common Denominator

From Hulu to Roku to Netflix and more, each publisher has their own set of spec requirements. It’s unrealistic, though, to tailor your creative to each publisher.

How can you minimize your workflow and maximize creative? We have you covered. Below is a list of spec requirements you can follow as a good rule of thumb when submitting creative.

  • File size: 1.78 GB Max
  • File type: .mp4 or .mov
  • Resolution: 16:9 / 1080p
  • Bitrate: 15-30 Mbps (15,360 - 30,720 kbps)
  • Frame rate: 23.976 or 29.97
  • Audio bitrate: 192 Kbps

Why was my ad creative rejected?

Your creative is ready to go. File size, frame rate, aspect ratio, and beyond — you’ve checked all the boxes. You submit your creative with confidence, only to receive a rejection email weeks later.

What happened? As we dug into above, CTV spec requirements vary from publisher to publisher — meaning it can be easy to make a mistake. But with so many requirements to consider, how can you pinpoint where you went wrong? Here are some reasons why your creative may be rejected.

Your VAST response has VPAID elements

Let’s talk about technicalities. Serving a video ad requires a VAST (video ad serving template) tag. This tag has several important elements, including:

  • The location of the media files that represent different encodings of the video file and provides different resolutions to handle different bandwidth situations at the end consumer’s TV
  • Tracking tags that fire during various stages of the video ad playback
  • Useful accompanying elements like closed captioning

Unlike VAST tags, VPAID wrappers are not supported by CTV devices.

VPAID wrappers originally served an important purpose, but are now deprecated. Why? Earlier versions of VAST tags did not support viewability — a desktop concept that measures and determines if 50% of a video ad’s pixels are on-screen for at least 2 seconds and therefore “viewable.” In response, most verification vendors, like iAS and DoubleVerify, implemented viewability through VPAID.

Once VAST tags began supporting callouts to verification for viewability, though, VPAID wrappers became obsolete.

Apart from being deprecated, VPAID wrappers have no place in the connected TV world because mainstream CTV players don’t support VPAID. Plus, all connected TV ads are typically 100% viewable — rendering VPAID’s purpose useless.

Your ad is low quality

Poor quality can be another reason a platform rejects your CTV creative. Low-resolution images or videos are one common culprit. Publishers aim to provide a high-quality viewing experience and may reject a visually subpar creative to maintain those standards. If your CTV creative has low-resolution visuals, pixelation, or blurry images, it can significantly detract from the overall quality and professionalism of the ad.

Each CTV publisher’s creative requirements include a minimum file resolution. If your file fails to meet these specs, the publisher will require you re-submit your creative with a better resolution.

Clear and crisp audio is crucial for conveying the message effectively in a CTV creative. If the audio in your creative is muffled, distorted, or of poor quality, it can impair the viewer's ability to understand the dialogue, voiceover, or sound effects. Publishers aim to provide an immersive audio experience, and an unclear or low-quality audio track may result in rejection.

Your ad creative doesn’t meet content-specific restrictions

Certain ad placements or programs may have additional restrictions or requirements. Common use cases include:

  • Creative targeted at children: If your CTV creative is targeted at children, it must comply with regulations related to child-friendly content, such as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in the United States and its specific guidelines for advertising to children.
  • Creative involving alcohol: Advertisements that promote alcohol must include “drink responsibly” tags.
  • Creative involving pharmaceuticals: Advertisers looking to serve pharmaceutical advertisements must submit substantiation of any claims made at the same time they submit their creative.

Failure to comply with restrictions can easily result in rejection.

Unveiling the Blueprint for Creative Spec Requirements

With this information in hand, you now know what ad specs to follow for your CTV campaign.

How do you get your ad creative in front of the right audience, though? Finding the right viewers is harder than ever before, thanks to an explosion in viewership fragmentation. Simulmedia’s TV+ serves ads to targeted, cost-efficient audiences — even in today’s increasingly complex connected TV ecosystem. From technical hiccups to targeting the right audience and beyond, Simulmedia empowers advertisers every step of the way.

Ready to put your ad creative to work? Get in touch with one of our experts.