Video has long been one of the most popular formats in digital advertising, and as more advertisers place greater emphasis on cross-screen strategies it is only expected to grow. But the extent of its growth is dependent on there being adequate inventory for marketers to purchase – hence why publishers are increasingly exploring new inventory options.

An emerging video format is user-initiated out-stream video, which allows video ads to run within the content of a page, and effectively create video inventory where there was previously none. Consequently publishers are looking for ways to leverage out-stream, and advertisers are looking for ways to incorporate it into their campaigns. But in spite of the hype around out-stream, there are factors marketers and publishers may not be aware of when it comes to the developing format.

One under-utilised strength is out-stream’s ability in mobile environments. According to eMarketer, mobile and video ad spend will continue to grow throughout 2017. This will be fuelled in part by in-app native video, as well as pre-roll. For marketers and publishers to hit these kinds of growth numbers, the industry will need to adopt out-stream across all devices and channels. Fortunately, it is translatable, which will aid publishers in adding video to mobile page environments, where mobile inventory previously did not exist.

The reason many publishers and advertisers may not have considered out-stream as a mobile ad unit is because they class it as video, when in reality out-stream is a rich media execution, similar to what advertisers have been leveraging for years. While out-stream does indeed make use of video content, it needs to be considered along the same lines as high-impact rich media advertising that is bought and sold programmatically.

This is key, as many publishers already sell rich media ads in addition to standard pre-roll video inventory. Many are therefore desperate to add more video, and make it available via exchanges and other platforms. But out-stream offers even more benefits for contextual targeting, using the content of a text-dense page to deliver a video ad that feels relevant to the reader’s interests. This delivers a positive user experience while also helping the publisher get a higher CPM because of the desirability of the viewer.

Out-stream is highly important to publishers, who are likely to have a much easier time incorporating it throughout their sites than they think. Publishers need to be aware which vendors they are utilising to help facilitate out-stream sales, and if they are losing any potential revenue to a middleman. Partnering with a knowledgeable ad server can make all the difference for a publisher, ensuring that they are selling their inventory with as few intermediaries as possible, thus maximising revenue.

It’s clear that out-stream benefits publishers who are willing to implement it, and what’s good for publishers is beneficial for advertisers too. Some marketers have been shut out of video, and CPMs are on the rise as competition increases for premium video slots. Out-stream creates a new wave of inventory that can be purchased programmatically, which allows the marketer to make informed decisions about the audience they want to purchase, and how much they want to spend to reach that audience. Marketers of all sizes and budgets should be expanding their buys to include formats that drive ROI and favourable user experiences, making out-stream a necessity.

Out-stream inventory does not require a major strategic overhaul by either advertisers or publishers, and it delivers a positive consumer experience that does not remove them from the page. As sales continue to boom, industry advocacy groups such as the IAB will help define standards that shape the market, ensuring that out-stream delivers the best possible outcome and experience for advertisers, publishers and consumers alike. Rest assured, as video and programmatic continue to grow in popularity, out-stream will play a major role in their prosperity.

Michael McNulty

Michael McNulty


Michael McNulty, Product Marketing Manager, Rich Media, Sizmek.