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Outstream Video Ads: Moving Beyond the Limitations of Pre-Roll

Dec 18, 20196 min read
Kate Novatska
Kate Novatska, AdTech Expert

What is the most appealing ad format in 2023? Video ads for sure. 96% of marketers want to have it in their advertising strategy, while 54% of users crave for more video content in their feeds. How to match this demand and get new customers, if most of the pre-rolls are already taken by somebody else? The answer is outstream video ads.

Videos are magnets that stick to your eyes. Even when it comes to crappy clips on Youtube, we usually can't help but click “play”. Resisting to watch a video with a clickbait headline is as hard as resisting to steal fries from your friend's Big Mac combo. And if regular videos look so delicious, why can't online video advertising be the same?

Fast Fact: Smaato and Liftoff reported that programmatic video ads receive a 7.5X higher CTR than banners.

Everyone should be insanely happy with their video ad campaign performance, but there's one thing that still frustrates many. In-stream video ads are expensive and need a video player to work. Web pages with video players are rare, let alone the fact that pre-roll or mid-roll ad setup is challenging. Doesn't sound as good as before.

Is there something to make video ads look great again?

Meet the outstream video format. These video ads have nothing to do with video players and just emerge in the middle of any page. They don't require a tiresome setup, as there are ready code templates to copy-and-paste. Outstream videos win over your audience without hijacking an elite ad placement behind the main video content, which eventually takes over all the attention.

Definition: What is Outstream Video Advertising?

If you need a simple explanation of what outstream video ads are, here it is. They are all video ads that live outside video players. Nobody has been talking about it, but you've seen them scattered around editorial content. Muted videos that appear out of nowhere when you're reading a cool article on Forbes are exactly what I'm talking about.

Speaking more professionally, outstream video advertising is a form of native advertising that involves a large-format video player that emerges in the middle of the page content and automatically plays a video ad. Outstream can be played anywhere, anytime, and still bring most of the benefits of regular programmatic video.

When to Use Outstream Video Ads?

Outstream video advertising comes to the rescue when you need to expand your video ad campaign beyond the video player. There are several major use cases of the outstream video format:

  • Absence of the video player. You work with publishers that don't have videos on their websites.
  • Reach expansion. You already run in-stream campaigns and want to grow further.
  • Native-like look. You want your ad to be coherent with the website's content.
  • Customization. You need to spill over the standard requirements of in-stream video ads.
  • New effective format. You are curious to see if outstream does well for your business.

Let's elaborate on why outstream video ads may perform better than in-stream by looking at specific cases.

Benefits of Outstream Video Ads for Users, Publishers, and Advertisers

Aside from benefits for ad agencies, advertisers, and website users, outstream video advertising also has strengths that can be utilized by publishers. Let's summarize the major gains for each party.

For Users For Advertisers For Publishers

Non-disruptive experience;

Videos are skippable and are played without sound;

At the same time, outstream ads are more engaging and entertaining than banners;

The video is playing when the ad is 100% in-view, so the user can scroll down if they don't want to see the ad.

The video is playing when the ad is 100% in-view — it's impossible to fake an impression;

Outstream ads are customizable;

Compatible with VAST, VPAID, and VMAP;

Have a 2.5% higher CTR;

Viewed 25% longer.

Outstream units can be monetized by all publishers without having video content.

Easy setup compared to instream video;

Better optimized on mobile compared to other types of video ads.

Disadvantages of Outstream Video Format

More freedom also means more responsibility. If implemented the right way, outstream video ads are indeed less intrusive and more effective. But, the customizable nature of these ads has a flip side. Poor optimization and wrong placement of the ad is not uncommon here. So, instead of having a neat native-like look, they may turn into the user's worst nightmare.

The second drawback of outstream is that it's hard to be purchased programmatically via a demand-side platform. Publishers can't list such inventory units in their SSP platform, as this kind of inventory is not intended to be on the website from the start. Those video ads can be placed anywhere and nowhere at the same time, and that's a problem when it comes to automatic media buying: an RTB algorithm is not able to read unlisted units.

Outstream vs. In-Stream Video Advertising

Instream video advertising, as you may have guessed, is the stuff we see before or during the actual video we watch. We usually can't ignore it or skip it and are compelled to endure 10 sec of a loud and often irrelevant message. Video ad units are often traded via the direct method of media buying using an ad server, therefore this message can be the same for each visitor.

Fast fact: 66% of US users hate when they press play and see a pre-roll video ad automatically playing with sound. No wonder: we all get annoyed if something interrupts us from watching, say, our favorite Youtube channel.

Outstream video aims to solve this problem and provide a less disruptive experience to the site visitors. These kind of native video ads utilizes integration rather than interruption. The user can scroll them down or skip them at anytime if they are not interested. Moreover, outstream units are often muted by default. When somebody's curious about the ad's content, they may turn on sound and watch the video.

As I mentioned above, outstream video ads are also easier to set up. All you need is a Javascript code to embed your video on the page. Instream is more tricky, as it requires changes in a video player, which has a certain algorithm of work, unlike the web page that only has a layout.

Ad agencies and advertisers see the future in native video advertising. According to eMarketer, 77% of agencies and 70% of advertisers consider outstream to become a more important ad format in their digital advertising strategies within the upcoming years. Only 60% of both parties say so about instream ads.

Video ad formats emarketer survey

Bullet Points:

  • Instream video ads require a video player to be displayed, outstream video ads can be shown anywhere on the page even if there are no videos on it.
  • Instream video ads interrupt the main content, outstream video ads can be scrolled or skipped.
  • Instream video ads always autoplay out loud, outstream video ads are muted by default.
  • Instream video ads need a substantial change in the video playing algorithm, outstream video ads can be added to the web code in one click.
  • Instream video ads should meet strict requirements, outstream video ads can be customized on behalf of the advertiser.

Examples of Outstream Video + 3 Templates from Epom Ad Server

The only reliable way to show outstream video ads on the website is to give a well-written piece of JS code to the publisher. And you don't need to come up with it by yourself. We at Epom ad server have already thought ahead and created three outstream video templates to provide the best user experience to hook your target audience.

The following three templates are the most widespread examples of outstream video: in-read, overlay, and slider ad formats. Here we will go over each one in more detail.

In-Feed Outstream Video Ads

In-feed ad format example

In-feed or in-read video ads are also dubbed as native video advertisements. They are called so because they blend-in editorial content and seem like they're meant to be there. In-read ads smoothly appear in the middle of the page surrounded by text or other types of content. It happens when the user scrolls the feed to the designated place, which can be the best spot for displaying such an advertisement.

Outstream in-feed offers benefits to both users and advertisers. It can't go unnoticed and draws the attention, especially if you tailor it to look like the website's design. On the other hand, it doesn't distract the user from reading the article. So, if they're not interested, they may just pass by and ignore this video ad.

Benefits of In-Read Ad Format:

  • Native-like look;
  • Non-disruptive user experience;
  • Can't go unnoticed;
  • May be placed anywhere on the page;
  • Draws the attention by its dynamics.

Overlay Outstream Video Ads

Overlay ad format example

An overlay video ad is a good candidate to replace a pre-roll ad, as it works almost the same way but is much simpler to implement. While the user is on the page, overlay covers up an existing video player or another fitting element on the website, auto-playing a muted video. The user can watch it just as a pre-roll video ad, yet it gives you more customization freedom to make it less intrusive for the audience.

Thus, you can allow users to skip overlay whenever they want, setting up a close button. Once they press on it, the ad will disappear and they'll get back access to the main video. I want to also remind you that overlay is not a part of a video player, so it can be installed over it in a matter of seconds using Epom overlay video template.

Benefits of Overlay Ad Format:

  • Highly customizable;
  • Can be skipped or muted;
  • May serve as a pre-roll;
  • 2X cheaper than a pre-roll;
  • Easy to set up;

Slider Outstream Video Ads

Slider ad format example

Sliders are the most spectacular among other outstream video ad examples: they drive into the page from the designated corner, ready to impress the user with the compelling message. It's important to carefully select the pages on which to display slider ads, as they may cover up primary content in a way the user may dislike. But if applied properly, sliders are the most engaging and notable video ads.

Benefits of Slider Ad Format:

  • Spectacular and engaging;
  • Can be easily skipped;
  • Extra customizable.

Epom video templates are ready-made pieces of code that will help you serve outstream video ads in the right way. And now, aren't you curious which outstream template will work best for your business? Roll your sleeves up and let's take a quiz:

Which outstream format is the best for your business?


Which kind of superhero are you in the AD universe?

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