In-Stream vs. Out-Stream Video Ads: Which Is Best For You

Updated on: December 29, 2023
Unlock the potential of your website with our in-depth look at in-stream vs out-stream video ads. Let us guide you on the path to higher user engagement and increased profits!

Did you know that a staggering 92% of video marketers in 2023 say video gives them a record-high ROI? That’s a massive leap from just five years ago when 78% of video marketers felt the same about videos. The statistic illuminates the fact that video marketing is more than just a fad—it’s a fundamental shift in the way businesses approach advertising.

As a website publisher, you might wonder how to engage with this trend. It’s not as simple as putting a video ad on your website and watching the dollars roll in. It involves strategic decision-making, particularly when it comes to selecting the right video ad format for your platform.

Two formats often come to the forefront are in-stream and out-stream video ads. They are more than just technical jargon; understanding the difference between these two can be a game-changer in how you monetize your content.

In this guide, we will delve into the nitty-gritty of in-stream and out-stream video ads, equipping you with the knowledge to make an informed choice. We’re here to unravel the complexities, compare these formats with other ad types, and guide you toward effective monetization.

Ready to take the leap into the dynamic world of video advertising? Let’s dive right in.

Understanding In-Stream Video Ads: Definition, Importance, and Types

Let’s demystify “in-stream video ads”, a term that’s become an integral player in digital advertising. But what are they exactly, and why should you, as a publisher, care?

💡 In-stream video ads are commercials that play within a video player, similar to traditional TV ads. They can occur before (pre-roll), during (mid-roll), or after (post-roll) the main video content.

  • Pre-roll ads play before the video that the viewer has selected, creating an unskippable advertising experience.
  • Mid-roll ads act like commercial breaks on TV, cropping up at specific intervals during the video.
  • Post-roll ads roll out after the video content concludes. While their completion rate may be lower, the audience staying tuned is highly engaged.

For publishers, in-stream ads present a valuable opportunity to capture viewer attention and engagement, potentially leading to higher CPMs. To harness them effectively, it’s important to delve into their different types and inherent advantages:

1. Linear Video Ads

Linear video ads take up the entire video player space and interrupt the main content while they play.

Pros: Hard to ignore, these ads provide a high level of viewer engagement.

Cons: Their interruptive nature might prove irritating to some viewers.

2. Non-Linear Ads

Non-linear video ads share the screen with the main video content, often appearing at the bottom of the player.

Pros: These ads are less intrusive as they let viewers continue enjoying their video.

Cons: They might be less noticeable and engaging due to their subtlety.

3. Companion Ads

Companion ads appear alongside the main video content, either within the player or surrounding it.

Pros: These ads provide an additional touchpoint for ad interaction and can extend the reach of the primary in-stream ad.

Cons: If viewers are fully immersed in the video content, they might overlook these ads.

Despite their potential benefits, in-stream video ads also pose certain challenges. They require an ad-compatible video player and depend on the availability of video content. Moreover, their interruptive nature can sometimes hamper the user experience.

Understanding Outstream Video Ads: Definition, Importance, and Types

Out-Stream video ads, often dubbed as the “new kid on the block,” have carved out a niche in the digital advertising ecosystem. Let’s take a deep dive to understand what they are, their significance for publishers, and the diverse types they come in.

💡 Out-stream video ads are standalone advertising units that play outside a video player, integrated within the text content, or as standalone placements on a webpage.

They can be quite versatile, adapting to fit different locations and formats on a webpage, thus offering publishers increased flexibility and creativity in their ad placement.

Here are the various types of out-stream video ads:

1. In-Slide Outstream Video Ads

These ads commonly appear in a corner of the webpage in a video player. They are “sticky”, meaning they stay in place and follow the user as they scroll down the webpage. These ads start playing automatically, usually with the sound muted, enhancing ad viewability.

Pros: Their sticky nature boosts ad viewability, providing a non-intrusive experience as they start playing without sound.

Cons: Users might choose to turn these ads off at their will or quickly scroll past, decreasing engagement.

2. In-Content Outstream Video Ads

Unlike in-slide ads, in-content out-stream video ads nestle within the heart of the webpage content in a distinct video player. These ads don’t trail the user while scrolling but appear when users scroll to their position, providing a seamless viewing experience.

Pros: These ads can significantly complement text-heavy content, introducing video ads without interrupting the reading flow.

Cons: Their play/pause behavior, depending on visibility, might be less engaging for users who scroll quickly through the content.

3. In-Banner Video Ads: Banners With a Twist

In-banner video ads utilize the space of traditional banner ads, but instead of static images or text, they feature a video.

Pros: They catch user attention more effectively than standard banner ads and can be placed in numerous locations on a website.

Cons: If not optimized properly, these ads can slow page load times and impact website performance.

For publishers, out-stream video ads offer several benefits. They don’t require existing video content or an ad-compatible video player, making them a flexible and efficient choice for any website. Furthermore, they are less intrusive than in-stream video ads, enhancing the user experience on the website.

Now that we have a grasp on out-stream video ads, it’s time to position them against other ad formats. Are you ready to see how they fare?

In-Stream and Out-Stream Ads vs. Other Ad Formats

To truly appreciate the potential of in-stream and out-stream video ads, it’s beneficial to compare these formats with other popular ad types, namely display ads, native ads, and interstitial ads. Here’s a snapshot of how they stack up:

Video Ads Display Ads Native Ads Interstitial Ads
User Engagement High (especially in-stream ads) Low (Average CTR of 0.46% in 2023) Medium (Can be overlooked due to its stealthy nature) High (Can be disruptive due to full-screen format)
Intrusiveness Medium to Low (Out-stream ads are less intrusive) Low Low High
Dynamic and Immersive Nature High Low Medium to High (Depends on the quality of native ad content) High
Adaptability to Content High (Especially out-stream ads that embed within content) Medium High Medium (May interrupt content flow)

When assessing your options, remember: different ad formats excel in different circumstances. The context and content of your website, your audience’s preferences and behavior, and your ultimate monetization goals all factor into the best choice for you.

For example, while display ads are the classic choice for many, they might not drive the same level of user engagement as video ads. Similarly, while native ads can seamlessly blend into your website’s content, they might not be as dynamic or immersive as video ads, limiting their impact on users.

Now, while the metrics in the table give you a comparative understanding, the choice isn’t always black and white. This is where the detailed comparison between in-stream and out-stream ads in the upcoming section will equip you with finer details, aiding your decision-making process.

Are you excited about delving deeper? Let’s get to it!

In-Stream vs. Out-Stream: A Detailed Comparison

To help you make an informed decision, let’s dive into a side-by-side comparison of in-stream and out-stream video ads on three critical parameters: user experience and engagement, placement and integration, and monetization potential.

User Experience and Engagement

  • In-Stream Ads: As these ads are embedded within the video content, they tend to capture user attention effectively. However, this can sometimes be a double-edged sword. If these ads are too long or irrelevant, they can disrupt the viewer’s experience and potentially lead to negative sentiment.
  • Out-Stream Ads: On the other hand, Out-stream ads are less intrusive since they start playing when in view and pause when out of view. They blend seamlessly within non-video content, creating a less disruptive user experience. However, they might be less engaging than in-stream ads as users can easily scroll past them.

Placement and Integration

  • In-Stream Ads: These ads are placed before (pre-roll), during (mid-roll), or after (post-roll) a video, so they are more suitable for websites that primarily host video content. They require an ad-compatible video player to work effectively.
  • Out-Stream Ads: Out-stream ads are more flexible in terms of placement. They can be embedded anywhere on the website—within text content, as standalone ads, or even as in-banner ads. This makes them a more versatile choice for publishers without much video content.

Monetization Potential

  • In-Stream Ads: Due to their high visibility and engagement potential, they typically yield higher CPMs (Cost Per Mille). However, their efficacy depends heavily on the quality and relevance of the video content they are associated with.
  • Out-Stream Ads: While out-stream ads may not command as high a CPM as in-stream ads, they have a wider scope of application and can generate substantial revenue over a larger number of page views. Furthermore, they open up opportunities for publishers who might not have video content but want to capitalize on the video ad trend.

Hopefully, this comparison has brought you closer to understanding which ad format suits your needs better. But how do you choose between the two? Let’s delve into that next.

Choosing Between In-Stream and Out-Stream Video Ads

When choosing between in-stream and out-stream video ads, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer. The best option for you depends on several factors, including the type of content you offer, your audience’s preferences, and your monetization goals.

Here’s a simple guide to help you decide:

  1. Consider Your Content: If your website primarily hosts video content, in-stream ads can be an excellent monetization method. They are designed to be part of the video-viewing experience and can generate substantial revenue. On the other hand, if your site mainly consists of text or image content, out-stream ads offer an opportunity to incorporate video advertising without creating video content.
  2. Understand Your Audience: It’s crucial to know your audience’s behavior and preferences. Do they engage more with video content? Are they open to ads interrupting their video viewing, or do they prefer ads that are less disruptive to their browsing experience? In-stream ads can be great for an audience that loves video content, but out-stream ads might be better for an audience that values an uninterrupted browsing experience.
  3. Set Clear Monetization Goals: If your primary goal is to generate maximum revenue from high CPMs, in-stream ads might be your go-to choice. However, if your goal is to monetize more of your website’s content while maintaining a smooth user experience, out-stream ads could be the way to go.

Choosing the right ad format is a significant decision, but it’s not a binding one. You can always re-evaluate your choice and adjust your strategy as you gain more insights into your audience’s behavior and your website’s performance.

The next question that arises is how to implement these ads effectively. Are you ready to explore some best practices? Let’s forge ahead!

Best Practices for Publishers in Implementing Both Ad Types

As a publisher, your approach toward implementing video ads on your platform plays a significant role in your monetization success. Whether you’re integrating in-stream or out-stream ads, certain practices can help enhance their impact and augment your ad revenue. In this section, we’re focusing on elements that are within your control.

  1. Decide on Ad Placement: For in-stream ads, the placement within the video (pre-roll, mid-roll, or post-roll) matters significantly. Similarly, the positioning of out-stream ads within the web page content can affect their visibility and user engagement.
  2. Monitor and Adjust Ad Length: While you may not control the exact length of the ads, understanding what ad length works best with your audience can inform your decisions when choosing which ads to run. Typically, shorter ads tend to perform better, but this could vary based on your specific audience.
  3. Preserve Quality Content: While the quality of the ad video is often in the advertiser’s hands, ensuring that the ads align with the quality of your own content can lead to better audience engagement and potentially higher CPMs.
  4. Analyze and Optimize Ad Performance: Regularly monitor your ads’ performance, noting metrics like viewability, completion rate, and overall revenue. Leveraging these insights enables you to adjust your ad strategy for optimal results continually.
  5. Maintain Regulatory Compliance: It’s your responsibility to ensure that the ads on your platform are compliant with regulations such as GDPR and CCPA. Non-compliance could lead to penalties and could harm your platform’s reputation.

Keeping these best practices in mind while implementing your in-stream or out-stream video ads can navigate you toward a successful ad monetization strategy.

Impact of the March 2023 Update to OpenRTB on Video Ads

In March 2023, the digital advertising landscape was shaken up by an important update to the OpenRTB protocol. OpenRTB is the framework that facilitates the automated buying and selling of digital ad inventory.

The main focus of this update? A major overhaul to how in-stream and out-stream video ads are classified, offering enhanced clarity and specificity for publishers.

This major development can’t be ignored. Here’s why it matters to you as a publisher:

  1. Streamlined Ad Classification: The update to OpenRTB introduces clear definitions for in-stream and out-stream video ads. This means less room for error or ambiguity when classifying your ad inventory. Clear classification helps ensure you reach the right buyers and maximize your revenue potential.
  2. Optimized Inventory Valuation: With this update, your video ad spaces are more accurately defined, which helps potential buyers understand the value of your inventory better. This can directly lead to a fairer and potentially higher pricing of your ad spaces.
  3. Improved Ad Strategy: The changes introduced by the OpenRTB update allow publishers to reassess and tweak their video ad strategies. As a publisher, you’ll want to ensure that you accurately categorize your ad inventory under the new system to appeal to the most relevant buyers.

At first glance, these updates may seem like just another task on a publisher’s to-do list. However, they’re much more than that. They offer an opportunity for improved ad strategy, more accurate inventory valuation, and, ultimately, better returns on your ad spaces.

For a deep dive, check out a detailed IAB Tech Lab insightful resource into the March 2023 update to OpenRTB.

Elevating In-Stream and Out-Stream Video Monetization

Striking the perfect balance between profitability and an unintrusive ad experience is vital in in-stream and out-stream video advertising. However, choosing the right ad formats, tailoring them to various audiences, and leveraging their potential for maximum returns can be challenging. This is where an expert solution provider comes in, like Automatad.

In-Stream Video Ads: Automatad offers an integrated In-Stream video ads management solution that elevates your content. They combine click-to-play and accompanying ad options with a high-performing video player to amplify user engagement and ad performance, thus driving revenue growth.

Outstream Video Ads: With Automatad, outstream video ads have the unique ability to seamlessly integrate into your content, enhancing user experience and interaction. Their platform employs dynamic Anchor auto-play ads that adapt to user behavior and preferences, optimizing the ad viewing experience and boosting your earnings.

Vertical Video Solutions: Automatad understands the growing significance of mobile audiences. They offer vertical video solutions where their unique vertical video player provides an immersive and enjoyable experience for mobile users. This ensures that your content resonates with them and maximizes your mobile ad revenue.

Dynamic Bidding: The potential of your video inventory needs to be effectively leveraged. With Automatad’s dynamic bidding options, including Prebid Video bidding and GAM Demand, they ensure your video inventory attracts the attention and the revenue it deserves in an ever-competitive digital landscape.

Ready to take your video monetization to the next level? Start by booking a demo today.


1. What is the difference between in-stream and out-stream video?

In-stream ads play within a video player and video content, while out-stream ads play within the web page text.

2. What are out-stream video ads?

Out-stream ads are video ads that play within webpage text, not needing a video player or content.

3. What is an in-stream video ad?

In-stream ads are commercials that play inside a video player before, during, or after main video content.

4. What are the benefits of in-stream video ads?

In-stream ads engage viewers during video consumption and provide an immersive experience, higher CPMs, and flexible timing options.

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