MediaVideoVideo Ads: In-Stream or In-Page?

Video Ads: In-Stream or In-Page?

The advantages (and disadvantages) of both.


Another morning, another major media conglomerate announces it will monetize its video assets. Tuesday, CBS announced plans to create a 24-hour video-based news Web site featuring free video clips of its journalists’ reporting. An obvious attempt to capitalize on the burgeoning online video ad market, it fuels a fire already burning in advertisers’ (and analysts’) bellies.

All this buzz surrounding video inventory raises a question that doesn’t get the attention it deserves: when should a campaign utilize in-stream video advertising, and when should it utilize in-page video advertising? There are advantages to using one, or both, as part of an effective campaign.

So let’s examine the two.

Where the Buzz Is

In-stream video ads are often what all the excitement’s about. They typically run before (pre-roll) or after (post-roll) a requested video online. You might want an in-stream ad if you want to run a standard :15 or :30 TV spot. If you’re only concerned with increasing the frequency of a broadcast-style ad, this is the place to be at a minimum.

Make sure you take advantage of increased exposure time with adjoining ad placements. The most recent versions of publishers’ media players make this standard. After a consumer’s exposed to a :15 spot, for example, she sees a supporting 300 x 250 ad unit adjacent to it. This maximizes exposure time and the opportunity to elicit a click. Click-through is good when there isn’t much measurement from simply streaming an in-page video.

Also consider an in-stream ad if your TV spot is fairly irrelevant to the content it precedes (but hopefully is relevant to the demographic). You’ll have a captive audience. In-stream advertising is among the most expensive online ad formats. It’s also shown to a captive audience that can’t click away — unless they decide not to watch content they requested.

Many advertisers simply dump their TV spots onto the Web. Sure, that’s the least expensive (read: practically free) way to produce online advertising. It also may be the least effective. Spots that play well on 26 in. TV screens will look distinctly different (and possibly be less effective) when they run in a 320 x 240 pixel window.

Additionally, if the same message can be delivered in 10 seconds (a nonstandard broadcast ad length), why not edit the original down? This year, Cadillac ran an ad to promote the fact its cars can go from 0 to 60 mph in under five seconds. The ad itself was five seconds long — and probably the most effective video ad I’ve seen this year.

Advertisers don’t take enough advantage of the medium’s interactivity. Richly interactive in-stream advertising can turn an informational monologue into a dialogue with consumers. Many rich media vendors offer solutions in this vein. Click-throughs can increase dramatically with interactivity.

Better Measurement

In-page video ads haven’t receive the same notoriety as in-stream, primarily because they don’t make publishers as much money. Running in IAB-standard-sized ad units, in-page video ads offer a less expensive alternative, but they require more production time and a comprehensive understanding of what works. Yet interaction with this video ad type is more measurable because more content and more choices are delivered to the consumer.

These ads can begin to play either as the page loads or upon request. Both offer distinct advantages and drawbacks. The video is seen by more people if it plays while the page loads. Yet it’s likely to be played without sound (which normally requires a consumer interaction), lessening the impact.

Video playing upon request means fewer people actually see the video. Those who do asked to see it, making it more effective. Interactions with this video ad form are also more measurable than the standard in-page video ad.

We run a lot of in-page video inventory for our clients and we’ve seen consumer interaction time as high as three minutes on many campaigns. The reason isn’t only because we can have many minutes of video stream to an ad, but also the fact it can be supported by significant amounts of information and interactivity.

In-page video also offers video manipulation, allowing consumers to expand the video or to make it full-screen. Having this kind of control empowers consumers to have a more effective branding experience and to view the video more than once. If a video is engaging or entertaining enough, it can happen.


Video should be a major component of any online branding campaign. Examine the multiple formats available. In-stream video costs more to run (but likely less per video stream) yet it offers a larger, more captive audience. It only works well when the message is relevant to the content and optimized for the medium. In-page video provides more content opportunities and costs less (but likely more per video stream). Yet it requires the advertiser to captivate the audience. The creative around the video is as important (if not more so) as the video itself.

Deciding which format to use? Make the choice an educated one.


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