A Guide to Outstream Video Advertising: Is This As Good As It Gets?

A Guide to Outstream Video Advertising: Is This As Good As It Gets?

If you arrived on this page, you’re probably sold on the importance and power of video content and video advertising. If you’re a marketer then you’ve probably seen stats like how 90% of customers also say videos help them make buying decisions, which is probably why 93% of marketers use video marketing. Publishers on the other hand, are going to great lengths to provide quality video ad inventory in order to get some of those video ad budgets. 

Unfortunately, becoming successful and ROI positive with video publishing is not easy. The need to constantly create, manage, distribute (wisely), optimize, monetize, and all at scale, causes many publishers to just give up on video content publishing altogether.

Outstream In, Instream Out

Enter outstream. Almost a decade ago, when video publishing was much harder than today, video outstream advertising was introduced. 

The concept was simple. Instead of going through the hassle of video publishing, a publisher can place a video ad unit instead of a display ad. This had the benefit of enabling marketers to advertise on their properties without the need for a video content “stream”. Hence the term “Outstream”- outside the stream of content. 

While it was always clear that Instream ads are more impactful (users are in a video consumption mode, waiting to view content), the publisher’s ROI on outstream was much better. Publishers just didn’t have to invest ANYTHING in order to create video ad inventory. With zero costs and high CPMS, the new format spread quickly, giving marketers the inventory they were looking for, and publishers much needed revenue. 

The Video Consumption Renaissance

Today, creating or syndicated content, and then distributing it, has become easier. Advances in technology for mobile devices and the near-ubiquity of smartphones, have given rise to a veritable renaissance of video consumption. Digital video content is everywhere, and expected everywhere.

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But it is more than just technology catching up. Because of video’s power to “hook” users, many tech giants have placed video at the center of their content strategy. Many publishers understand that if they don’t let their users, and especially younger users, discover videos on their digital property, the users will find them elsewhere. 

Video Discovery, The New Instream

The video unit on a publisher’s digital asset has become very different from how it looked and functioned a decade ago. Instead of showing just one video, the player has increasingly become a discovery unit. Editors line up their best videos, often with enticing thumbnails, hoping to get users hooked on one of the best videos of the day, week, or month. When placing the discovery unit on every page a publisher can be sure their users get an opportunity to discover a fresh video, while scaling quality video ad inventory dramatically.  

However, to make it truly work at scale, there is a need for technology. The influx of digital video content makes it really hard to cut through the clutter, which is why constant smart optimization is needed. Just look at the big platforms investing in their algorithms, constantly learning what each type of user is looking for in every moment, mindset, and context. Discovery is everywhere.

Everyone Gets What They Want

So, instream video advertising is back with a twist, and for good reason. It’s not just publishers trying to achieve better CPMs than a display ad, by placing a video ad in a display ad placement. It means publishers are offering users a preferred way for many for consuming content. And long term growth can only come when users are satisfied. 

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But it is more than that. Advertisers appreciate the placements more. What is most important to advertisers is having their video ads seen, and preferably to the end. A video placement where users view the best content the publisher has to offer, or other syndicated content from top creators, goes a long way to provide those KPIs consistently. 

Instream vs. Outstream

The bottom line is quite simple; while outstream video may seem like an easy way to get video CPMs without all the video publishing hassle, there is a tradeoff in user experience, ad placement quality to the advertisers, and maybe most importantly, in resulting revenue. Today, video discovery platforms can easily provide publishers with a sophisticated, engagement-based unit that recommends users video content they love.