Difference between Instream and Outstream Video Ads

The ad tech industry is one of the most exciting industries to be a part of and this is chiefly because it is also one of the most dynamic ones. The industry is almost always going through a transitional phase and keeps on evolving. New technologies and ad formats keep on appearing and the ad tech industry keeps on evolving. Publishers and advertisers always have to be on their toes, so as to not miss the new technology bandwagon. One of the new entrants in the emerging ad format club is the video ad.

Video advertising has become an integral part of the marketing strategy of brands. Video ads are the way through which advertisers look forward to building an online presence. Studies show that video is on the way to claim more than 80% of all Internet traffic within the next two years. Advertisers are on the lookout for different ways to implement videos in their campaigns. This is because no other ad format can beat video in terms of capturing attention and engagement across social, mobile-web, in-app and desktop channels.

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A lot of factors have to be kept in mind while creating an ad, irrespective of the format. Creative, messaging, targeting options are only a few of them. One factor that has to be exclusively kept in mind when it comes to video ads is the battle between Instream and Outstream and its consequences.

Until recently, instream video ads- the ones within an existing video- were in vogue. But this created certain discrepancies for both publishers and advertisers. Publishers without premium inventory were losing out on revenue by playing instream ads. On the other hand, advertisers found it too expensive for such a limited number of placement options. These created the need for outstream video ads.

In this article, we are going to discuss the difference between Instream and Outstream video ads and the pros and cons of the respective formats.


Difference between Instream and Outstream Video Ads


Instream video ads are more common and you must have come across them within an existing video on YouTube, Facebook or any other digital platform. Instream video ads are of three types- pre-roll, mid-roll and post-roll. Instream has been in use ever since the inception of video ads and is the tried and tested way of implementing videos in ad campaigns.  


The biggest advantage of an instream video ad is that the viewer is committed to watching the video content that lays beyond the ad, which makes him/her automatically interested in the ad. Also, it is best to play a video ad when the viewer is already a part of the video environment.

Also, with the targeting done right, the ad or content can seem like a natural progression and that will the make the ad seem unintrusive.


The biggest disadvantage of instream is the limited scope for ad placement. Instream video ads can only be run within existing videos. So, if the videos are not the popular ones or the channel does not fall within the niche of your target audience pool, that can drive down numbers.

Another factor to keep in mind for instream is that your ad must not look out of place. You must be careful to not place an ad accounting for the number of deaths in Syrian crisis in the midst of a jovial music video. While the former is an important topic that needs to discussed the world over, wrong placement can cause the viewer to leave your video and channel.



Outstream video ads do not need existing video content to run. It is a form of video that generally appears as a page break within the main body of the text-based content or social feeds, in a non-video ecosystem.

As the user scrolls down, the video ad starts playing by itself. When the user scrolls away, the video pauses. When the viewer finishes watching the ad, the ad disappears.

Outstream video ads are less popular and is still an emerging ad format. It has mostly grown in the last one year and is projected to grow by leaps and bounds in the recent future.


The biggest plus of outstream video ads is the immense scope of ad placement. Ad placements are no longer limited to existing videos and their content. The ads can be placed anywhere and everywhere.

Outstream video ads are better suited to capture users’ attention as they stand out in a non-video environment. It has been seen that users watch outstream videos up to 25% longer compared to instream.

Tracking is not an issue in outstream since the video itself pauses when the user scrolls away.


Just because there are no constraints when it comes to ad placement if you place ads that pop out just about anytime and everytime, there is always a risk that the user will form a negative impression of both the advertiser brand and your site.

Since outstream is generally placed in a non-video environment, it runs the risk of appearing out of place, invasive and obtrusive. So, targeting has to be done properly for outstream.


A third of all the time people spend online is dedicated to watching videos. So, it is of no surprise that video ads are able to draw the most attention and are projected to generate $15.4 billion in total spend within the next few years. So, it makes sense to run video ads for both publishers and advertisers. However, no one can tell you which is the right video format for your site. As a publisher, you have to keep in mind a lot of factors such as niche, targeted audience, length, messaging, ad placement etc before choosing either instream or outstream. So, we suggest to not follow any trend blindly but try out both the formats on your sites and then make a decision.  




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