Video Ads for Publishers: A Beginner’s Guide

Updated on: January 3, 2024
If you're just getting started with video ads, this guide will help you get over the initial hurdles.

When the digital advertising era first dawned, most publishers started monetizing their remnant space on their websites by serving image, text, or link ads. Little by little, the publishers became more digitally savvy. And as their monetization efforts evolved with time, so did the digital advertising methods, formats, and technologies. 

Today, publishers can display various ad formats on their websites, from traditional banners to rich media to video ads. Because now, people don’t just want the content to be read; they prefer content to be video. 

Due to the higher engagement rate of videos, it has become a new format of choice for publishers and advertisers. Statista says, 

“U.S. advertisers will spend 78.45 billion dollars on video advertising this year.”

So, to help you get started with video advertising, we have collected all the relevant information so that you can get answers to all the questions in one place.

What Are Video Ads for Publishers?

Video ads are a form of digital advertising that use video content to promote or advertise a product, service, or brand. These ads can be displayed on various digital platforms such as social media, YouTube, or websites. Video ads are a popular and effective way for businesses to reach their target audience visually, engagingly, and interactively.

Today, most video ads are sold by programmatic means, and a lesser volume of video ads are directly sold. Let’s have a quick overview of both:

Direct-sold video ads: As the name suggests, these ads are sold to direct advertisers based on inventory volume, CPMs, and duration of ad campaigns. Direct-sold video ads require human efforts to satisfy the advertiser’s needs, and the advertising process is completely manual.

Programmatic video ads: Programmatic video ads are sold with the help of automated technologies to direct advertisers and third-party advertisers. In contrast to traditional direct-sold ads, programmatic video ads require less manual work and offer several benefits, such as advanced targeting options and so on. Here’s a guide on programmatic videos that you will find useful.

Types of Video Ad Formats

Before you start with video advertising, you must determine the format of the video ad you want to serve. Check out the three video ad formats categorized by IAB below:

Linear Video Ads: Linear video ads are the ad formats that can be sandwiched between the organic video content much similar to TV commercial ads. 

It can be divided into three subcategories: pre-, mid, and post-roll ads. A pre-roll ad is played before the organic video content is displayed, while a post-roll ad is played as soon as the video content ends.

Non-linear Video Ads: Non-linear video ads aren’t video ads. They are typically images that overlay the video content. Such ads can concurrently run with the video content so the users can view the ads’ content and video content simultaneously.

Non-linear video ads can be served as static image ads, interactive rich-media ads, and more.

Companion Video Ads: Companion video ads and linear and non-linear video ads can be served. Companion ads can come in several sizes and shapes, typically alongside the video player. However, a companion video ad cannot be served alone, and it must have a master video ad (i.e., linear video or non-linear video).

Types of Video Ads for Publishers

This section will walk you through different types of video ad units defined by IAB. In general, video ad units are categorized into two types:

In-stream video ad unit: In-stream video ads are played before, during, and after the video content. The publishers use such video ad units to monetize their video content and can be played inside short-form and long-form videos. In general, in-stream video ad units are used in three types of video content:

  • News content,
  • Syndicated or distributed content, and
  • User-generated content. 

Out-stream video ad unit: Out-stream video ad units enable the publisher to display video ads outside the content. This is the key difference between in-stream and out-stream video ads. The latter can leverage the standard display ad units to deliver a video experience.

Moving forward, out-stream video ads can be divided into four categories:

In-article video ads: Such ads are loaded between the paragraphs of editorial content and can be dynamically loaded when the users scroll through the page.

Native video ads: These are the promoted video ads that can be of various types – in-feed unit, paid search, promoted listing, recommendation widget, or custom. Native video ads consist of a headline, description, and context for the ads.

Interstitial video ads: Such ads are generally used by app publishers and appear when the user clicks on the app. Interstitial ads cover the entire screen of the user’s device.

In-banner video ads: In-banner video ads are ads within a banner that leverage the banner’s size. It has lesser demand than other out-stream ad formats, and publishers aren’t recommended to use it. We have a detailed guide on in-banner video ad units to help you understand the reasons behind them.

Overview of Video Advertising Technologies

Now that you know different video ad formats and units, the next step is understanding how video advertising happens. But before that, you should know the technologies involved in video advertising.

Video Ad Networks: A key function of video ad networks is to bring video demand for the publisher’s video ad inventories. They can also help set up ad campaigns, optimize video ads, and more. Find the list of best video ad networks here.

Video Ad Server: The video ad server is used by publishers to help with video ad serving, ad management, campaign management, ad trafficking, reporting, and more. Publishers can use a first-party (proprietary) video or third-party ad server.

Video Player: A video player is one of the most important technologies involved in video advertising. The interface helps create a path for communication between the video content and the user. Also, a video player can pass users’ data, store engagement data, and coordinate with the page to display companion ads.

A publisher can build a video player from scratch or get a third-party player from companies such as Brightcove, JW Player, etc. We have got a list of the best third-party video players available in the market.

Note: A video monetization partner may provide a video player. So, if your network offers the player, you don’t need to integrate a different player.

Video Tags: In video ads, there are two types of ad tags: VAST (Video Ad Serving Template) and VPAID (Video Player Ad Interface Definition). Both protocols act as a bridge between the video player and video ad units and instruct the ads on how to get played inside the player. 

Video tags are generated in the ad server that supports these protocols, and Google Ad Manager is one such server. Additionally, a video network can help you set up the inventories’ tags. 

How Does Video Advertising Work?

The video ad serving works the same as display ad serving, where an ad server serves an ad creative. The only difference is the involvement of a video player in the process. Below is the basic workflow of video ad serving:

  1. When a user visits a website with a video player, the player sends the request to the publisher’s web server to retrieve the video content.
  2. The server responds with a code instructing the web browser from where to get the main video content and how to display the content in the player.
  3. After the main video content is fetched, the video player again sends a request to retrieve the video ad’s content, and this is where VAST and other protocols come in. With the help of this request, the publisher’s ad server identifies which video ad has to be displayed.
  4. Once the identification is made, the ad server returns the chosen video ad’s markup. When the ad markup loads in the video player, it requests the advertiser’s ad server to retrieve the video ad.
  5. Now, the advertiser responds with a URL directing the users to the video ad’s location. Usually, the video ad is hosted on a Content Discovery Network.
  6. Then, the video player sends the last request to the Content Discovery Network, which further returns the video file, and finally, the video ad gets served to the users.

The process of video advertising might look a bit complicated. But from a publisher’s side, you only need to set up an ad server and pass the ad tags to the player. And when you deal with programmatic video ads, your ad tech partner will take care of most things.

Benefits of Video Ads for Publishers

Video advertising can be a gold mine for publishers to reach and engage audiences and increase ad revenue. Publishers are seeing video advertising as an opportunity because:

Users love videos.

As internet usage has increased, consumers are quickly moving towards digital video. Statista said global digital viewership would increase to over three billion in 2021. 

Since the users can switch from one channel to another, such as connected to OTTs or social media apps to OTTs, publishers can diversify their revenue streams over multiple channels.

Advertisers love videos even more.

Advertisers shift their attention to where their audiences are. Since videos are gaining traction, advertisers spend more on programmatic ads than ever. U.S. advertisers are expected to spend $75 billion on video ads by 2023.

Video ads get higher engagement rates. 

Video ads have tightly framed subjects and unique and interactive visual elements. For this reason, video ads get higher engagement rates than display ads, yielding higher purchase intent and favorability for advertisers. 

Video ads boost CPM rates.

Due to the higher engagement rates and scarcity of video content, video ads usually have higher click-through rates than any other ad format. That means higher CPMs and, thus, more ad revenue.

How to Set up Video Ads in Google Ad Manager?

Setting up and delivering video ads requires an ad server, video ad networks, and a video player. As most publishers use Google Ad Manager, let’s understand the implementation of video ads using GAM.

Step #1:

Decide the video ad format and unit you want to have. Partner with a video player if you are trying to serve in-stream video ads. Also, select the right video ad networks to leverage the benefits.

Step #2:

When you finish with the ad-tech partners, go to Google Ad Manager and set up the video ad line items. Create the ad units according to the format you wish to have, and generate a video ad tag.

Step #3:

Now, pass this video ad tag to your video player so that they can display the right ads from the demand partners. And you’re ready to start serving video ads.

We have a comprehensive guide on video setup in Google Ad Manager. Go through it if you have doubts/questions. Wondering if the setup varies with the type of video ad units? It does change, but you don’t have to worry about it. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you.

How to Get the Most out of Video Ads?

Video advertising can be an extremely effective method to monetize your video content. But you need to optimize your video ad content and video content to drive the results that matter most to your business. So, we have outlined some important tips that you should consider when optimizing your video ads:

  1. Lengthy video contents lose attention.

Video content that takes a long time to deliver value loses the users’ attention. They are abandoned before the users get a chance to know the benefits. Due to this, short-form content is trending amongst users and publishers. So, grab users’ attention early.

You might wonder if the video content length affects the performance of video ads. The impact of the length of video content varies. Below is the results of a study done by IAB:

  1. Optimal video ad length.

Short-form video content is preferred. But does that mean short-form video ad content will also be preferred? Ideally, 30-second long video ads have the highest view-through rates. 

Besides, the impact of video ad length also depends on which platform you are advertising on.

  1. Include relevance in your ads.

Just the optimal length of video ads and video content is not enough. Making your ads relevant is equally important to encourage the users to pay attention to your ads. So, make sure your ads are relevant.

Demographics and intent-based targeting can increase the relevancy of video ads. However, with the growing number of privacy laws and a cookie-less future, context-based targeting is the best.

  1. Make sure the auto-play video ads on the website are muted.

Users hate auto-play video ads with sound and without their initiation. It leads the users to add ad blockers; in the worst case, they might stop coming to your website. So, make sure that the auto-play video ads are muted and have ON/OFF buttons on the ad.

“Your videos should communicate your message even without audio. Don’t rely on voiceovers or dialog to relay key information. Use captions and graphic overlays to make sure your message gets across with sound on or off.”

– Facebook (Src

  1. Try vertical ads.

Regarding video ads, the aspect ratio matters as much as the ad format. So, try vertical ads. Vertical ads play in portrait orientation than landscape orientation. There are multiple advantages of displaying vertical ads, such as ads filling the screen, gaining high-level users’ attention, etc.

  1. Increase ad viewability.

Increasing ad viewability means increasing the opportunity to get your video ads viewed. So, ensure that your ads meet the criteria IAB and MRC define. When it’s about video ad viewability, you can improve the metric by providing a premium user experience and optimizing ad placement and video player.

Pro Tip: Do not serve the same pre-roll video ad multiple times during a video content series. Do not reuse video spots without considering the video player screen aspect.

Looking for more tips and strategies to optimize video ads? Read this article to find everything you need.

What’s Next?

Video ads are visually attractive and appealing. And they tend to help you connect better with your audience. Although publishers have long used video ads, a handful is still struggling with video monetization models. So, if you are also waiting for the right time to start with video advertising, it is now!


What Are the Types of Video Ads?

Web publishers can use several types of video ads to monetize their content, including pre-roll ads, mid-roll ads-roll ads, out-stream ads, and in-banner video ads. Pre-roll ads are video ads that play before the content begins. Mid-roll ads are video ads that play in the middle of the content. Post-roll ads are video ads that play after the content has finished. Outstream ads are video ads that play outside of a video player. They can be displayed in various formats, such as in-text, in-feed, or in-article.

How Does Video Advertising Work?

To implement video advertising on their website, publishers typically work with an ad network, exchange, and SSPs that connect them with advertisers looking to reach their audience. The video monetization partner will handle the technical aspects of serving the video ads, such as ad delivery, targeting, and tracking, leaving the publisher free to focus on creating quality content for their audience.

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