Whether you are just dipping your toes into programmatic or elbow-deep in its trenches, it’s always good to bring it back to basics.
If you have ever read an article on mobile or scrolled a feed-based app, you’ve probably encountered outstream video. This unit has been gaining popularity over the past couple of years with no sign of slowing down. Based on a January 2017 eMarketer report, ad-spend for this unit has seen a growth of 115% between 2015 and 2016.
What is outstream?
There are plenty of definitions for this unit, and names are abundant but the general rule of thumb is that an outstream video ad runs in a non-video content environment.
eMarketer provides a very clear definition “A form of digital advertising in which video units are served in non-video environments, including text articles, social media feeds and video games. The term ‘out-stream’ is meant to distinguish these ads from formats that run within a video stream, such as pre-roll, mid-roll and post-roll.”
The IAB defines the main difference between outstream and instream as “the existence of standard display ad units to deliver a video experience, as opposed to another static or rich media format.” Formats included in this definition are in-banner, in-article, native, in-feed and interstitial video.
How common is outstream?
By now it’s no secret that “Video is King” in the advertising industry, for both demand and supply sides. Publishers looking to get in on the video ad action can now create more inventory for demand to buy without the need to change their platforms because outstream units fit where static display units previously were with no need for a video player or video content. Publishers who aren’t focused on generating video inventory, like article based newspapers, are also able to offer these storytelling units, generating more inventory for buyers who until now have found video supply scarce.
Why was it created?
Until recently, to run a video advertisement online, the advertiser (or entity representing the advertiser) would only have the option to run a video ad within video content and this type of inventory was scarce because video ad content was (and is) costly to produce. Publishers (even premium publishers) without video content were unable to sell video ads, and buyers were limited to running campaigns on platforms with video players like Youtube. These ad environments also required a user to be watching video content to click, skip, or to let an ad run.
But outstream lives next to all sorts of content, like written articles or a social feed, and auto-plays only when 100% in view. Ultimately, outstream was created to help publishers generate more video ad inventory without having to create actual video content.
Why is it important to advertisers?
Outstream has helped solve both the problems of inventory scarcity and lack of variety. 1) Because publishers can more easily support outstream video, more are offering it and advertisers are able to get more of what they want (video); and 2) advertisers can reach hyper-relevant audiences because they have access to a variety of content (e.g., not just platforms with video players).
And there is an added bonus with outstream–it has been proven to be more effective at capturing users’ attention. Based on research, users watch outstream video 25% longer than instream, and the longer they watch means more time to engage. Advertisers can also lay aside concerns regarding viewability, as the ad begins to play only when in view of the user and pauses when he/she scrolls past it.
Why is it important to publishers?
Because outstream video has higher levels of engagement compared to static display formats, they generate higher CPMs, and higher CPMs ultimately lead to higher RPMs for publishers. Even better, the production effort to CPM ratio is low–there is little required on the part of the publisher to offer outstream video–no costly video production or proprietary video player required. Lastly, outstream video is built for viewability; the auto-play starts only when the ad unit is in view.
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