Outstream Video – An Online Ad Format Determined to Be Viewed on its Own Merits

While the majority of both publishers and advertisers are aware of the concept of outstream video, many remain unaware of what to expect when engaging with such formats. This piece by Kevin Fox, head of advertising, Blue Billywig, (pictured below), aims to delve into the outstream video market, from the environment that enabled its growth, to how both publisher and advertiser alike can benefit through its use.

A simple question of supply and demand

Video ads are hot property right now, exhibiting the fastest growth of all the internet advertising formats. The market is growing rapidly, with a rise from a reported spend of USD$6.32bn (£4.44bn) in 2014 to an expected USD$15.39bn (£10.82bn) in 2019 (PWC).

Quality supply is hard to come by in its traditional form, the pre-roll. For publishers, adding a video content strategy to their business model, is both costly and time consuming, while in ad land, there is a scramble to spend video budgets without achieving the desired reach.

The above situation has led to the growth of outstream video, which involves embedding video advertisements within other forms of content, such as editorial content, page menus or image galleries.

Kevin Fox Blue BillywigKey Benefits

As is natural with anything new, we immediately compare to what came before. Outstream video is no different, with a drive to determine CPM and ROI variations against both pre-roll and display formats.

However, there are no definitive answers to these questions as there will always be mitigating factors such as content type, region, positioning etc. I, therefore, encourage both sides of the ad market to view these formats on their own merits, as high-impact video advertisements, designed to boost viewability for advertisers, while remaining a non-intrusive experience for a website user.

There are numerous advantages for both buyers and sellers that should encourage all sides to embrace an outstream video strategy.

For publishers

– Open up a brand new revenue stream, without cannibalising your existing sales strategy

– Benefit from the fast-growing digital video market before actually investing in a video content strategy

– For publishers already running video content, achieve additional gains from the ad market by increasing supply with outstream

– Attract premium brands to your content with the use of high-impact, strong performing, user-friendly video ads

– Add formats that both look and perform well across mobile devices, a difficult area of monetisation for a lot of publishers

For advertisers/agencies

– Achieve the desired reach with your digital video campaigns without curtailing the quality of supply sources

– Large outstream volume provides increased scope for targeting specific audience segments

– Ability to track user engagement on very specific levels and optimise accordingly

– Outstream formats offer 100% viewability for users without being forced or incentivised

– The added volume offers the flexibility to target users at specific day parts on specific devices, such as smart devices on the morning commute where the chances of engagement are high


The upsides are clear-cut; yet there still concessions that need to be made.

Editorial teams are not always best pleased to have ads placed within content that they have spent a lot of time and effort to research and write. The flipside here is that having the ad placed in such positions increases the visibility and the chance of a strong campaign performance, hence recurring budgets and increased revenue potential of said content.

For advertisers and agencies, outstream video deviates from what they may expect from a pre-roll. Completion rates will no doubt decrease, as the content is not forced on the user. The counter argument in this case is that user engagement is purely by choice and a genuine willingness to interact with the brand, giving a more reliable indicator of campaign performance.

Driving results through yielding choice

The growth in the outstream video market is showing no signs of abating as it edges ever closer to the mainstream. Outstream has by now earned the right to be viewed as a standalone format, without the constant comparisons to pre-roll or display inventory. As a relatively new product, it presents an appealing opportunity within the video sphere, offering multi-screen possibilities, granular KPIs and a high-impact, yet agreeable, way to interact with the most important link in the advertising chain – the customer.