Outstream native, often referred to as in-article or in-text advertising, is a widely traded programmatic video ad format. It’s gaining tremendous momentum within the industry due to the availability of inventory across publishers, networks and buy-side platforms. There were initial concerns that these ads would disrupt the online experience, but unlike pre-roll ads that users are forced to watch, outstream ads provide users with a choice to pause the video or scroll down to continue reading. So we’re seeing high completion rates and low cost-per-completed views (on par with pre-roll), which means brands are now making a bigger case for outstream.
However, there are still many hurdles to overcome.
Brands are not sure how to create content for modern video formats
While outstream resembles its older brother pre-roll, it’s unique in the way it’s consumed. Outstream is the staple for mobile, so it’s highly viewable. However, sound is becoming a concern.
If we consider that the typical mobile experience includes listening to music or browsing the web on the way to school or work, this means most users are consuming ads without sound. Digiday recently stated that up to 85% of Facebook video is consumed without audio. Across the wider web, approximately 40-50% are viewed soundlessly. While we are starting to notice more videos accompanied by subtitles or high-impact text, the vast majority of this creative lacks these elements. All things considered, we can see that video creation for the modern web is still in its infancy.
Viewability is a challenge. Again.
Outstream had a unique opportunity to create an ecosystem for highly viewable ads. While most sites only load ads that are in-view, we are seeing some early offenders, indicating that you will likely have to work with a viewability partner to make sure your money is spent wisely.
Thankfully, due to the novelty of the format, it’s easy to tie viewability to click-through rates at a basic level. We’ve see that outstream ads loaded in-view yielded five to 10 times higher click-through-rates than their non-viewable counterparts.
Figuring out which format you are buying programmatically is hard
Considering that most platforms still have some undisclosed inventory, it’s no surprise that there are issues surrounding transparency. For companies that only create outstream video, it’s simple. However, for those that support multiple formats, it’s more challenging. Currently, very few exchanges or buy-side platforms that offer both pre-roll and outstream can easily separate the inventory due to the fact that it requires a lot of heavy lifting on their end.
Both pre-roll and outstream have a place in every media plan. Brands’ ability to choose only the format they are interested in when buying programmatically still requires a lot of improvement.
What’s Next for Outstream? As seen with native advertising, content creation and transparency remain the largest challenges for brands to adopt modern mobile-first formats. That being said, with these few barriers left to overcome, outstream is showing great promise and can swiftly rise to become the most prominent high performing channel for video advertising.
Vitaly Pecherskiy is a co-founder of StackAdapt