Media companies need instream and outstream videos for ad monetisation

By Mark Challinor


London, United Kingdom


The best way for media companies to monetise their video advertising is to use instream and outstream video ads. But in deciding which of these two is best, there are very specific differences between the two, which you need to understand.

What is instream video?

Instream ads are video ads that are played within a video. They can be at the beginning, middle, or at the end of a video (hence the terms pre-roll, mid-roll, and post-roll). They are non-linear, meaning that they can be played over the video. 

Normally, these videos last between six seconds to a minute, and users are given the option to skip the ad after five seconds. Instream is still the most reliable and most used for placing video ads within relevant video contexts. The reason they are so powerful is that they get into the heart of the user’s video content. But, of course, you will still have to put in place an appropriate targeting strategy to make them convert.

Instream ads and outstream ads are differentiated mostly by placement.
Instream ads and outstream ads are differentiated mostly by placement.

What is outstream video?

Outstream videos are video ads that are played within the content of a Web page.  These ads might suddenly “pop up” inside an app or automatically play, say, in a blog post when the user scrolls over them. (They will play for as long as the user has the video player in-frame). If the user continues to scroll, the ad will automatically stop.

What’s the difference? 

It’s all about “placement.” Placement is the main difference between instream and outstream video ads. Instream ads will be placed within a video player on a Web site, typically the videos page and usually inside videos that are relevant to the product/subject matter. For example, we might place an instream video ad for a printing supplier on a page about the power of print.  

Outstream ads, however, are not placed in videos. They are standalone/embedded, similar to a native ad into say a blog post or an article. These ads are also placed within content that is hugely relevant. For example, we might embed a printing supplier into a blog post about how print is still relevant in today’s digital world.  

Outstream video ads are linear, meaning they occur as standalone ads within content.  

Instream ads, though, don’t have to be linear. They can be used as “companion ads” that will pop up during the video but, importantly, do not interrupt it. Many instream ads like this can take up half the screen complete with a sidebar.

Pros and cons of instream vs. outstream 

There are a few downsides to instream ads, which should be kept in mind when building your strategy. Instream can be limiting. For example, instream only allows you to run ads on video channels you already have placed content onto. That can be a potential issue if your target audience isn’t using those channels … or you haven’t yet built an audience.  

Outstream video ads, on the other hand, appear in non-video environments like editorial content, social feeds, etc. Outstream has a big advantage since it can deliver video ads practically anywhere. So, there are no real limits to where you can have ad placements, which you do have with instream. It is therefore a lot easier to reach relevant audiences based on surrounding content if using outstream ads.

Outstream ads also pause when the user scrolls past them and start again when the user scrolls back, so you don’t need to worry about wasted impressions.  

Finally, the main thing you need to be concerned about is sorting your ad tech stack so it doesn’t disrupt or adversely affect the user experience.

What is best for your media company?

Instream and outstream video ads are creative and innovative video ad formats that will no doubt help build a decent revenue stream for media companies of all sizes. The reality is that you probably need both instream and outstream for maximum reach, impact, and ultimately revenue. However it’s really important to understand how they both work and the limits/potentials of each. 

Happy video-ing.

About Mark Challinor

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