Linear in-stream ads are those that play before, during or after your video content, so the question is less about where you want to run video ads and more about when. Nonlinear in-stream ads are usually not videos, but they run alongside or within video content without taking over the entire viewing experience for the user.
The types of linear in-stream ads are relatively easy to understand based on their names alone. Pre-roll ads, for example, play before your main video content rolls. These are a relatively consistent favorite among publishers for two reasons:
- Users who want to watch one of your videos are usually motivated enough to sit through a few seconds of a video ad in exchange for viewing the content.
- That motivation yields better overall metrics, such as video completion rate, which translate to higher revenue.
If you’re worried about UX, pre-roll may be a solid option. Among mobile and desktop viewers, only 17% said pre-roll video ads disrupted their experience with the website or app they were using. For reference, that is a lot lower than the numbers for mid-roll and post-roll ads.
These ads play somewhere between the start and end of your video content. The exact placement of mid-roll ads is often critical to their success. Place them too late in the video, when the user has seen much of what they wanted to see in the content, and they’re not likely to be watched. On the other hand, if you place them too early, the user may feel that the rest of the experience isn’t going to be worth the time the ad takes.
The correct placement and frequency of mid-roll ads can lead to high completion rates. It’s often helpful to play around with placement to see what works best for your platform and target audience.
Post-roll ads run after your video content is complete. Immediately, you may see a potential problem. Who’s going to stick around after the content to watch an ad? It’s like sitting through the entire credits at the movie theater.
Some people do stick around after the credits, of course, but not that many. But what if the movie was a double feature? More people would stick around for the credits if another movie was going to begin immediately after. You can recreate that effect by allowing your video player to autoplay related video content after the completion of a video.
In-Content Video Ads
Video advertising doesn’t have to be limited to video content. Video ads that run independently of any accompanying video content are called in-content video ads.
These ads still require some kind of video player, of course, but they can appear in various places on your site. Here’s what in-content video ads can look like:
In-Article Video Ads
If you’re a publisher of text-based articles who wants to run in-article video advertisements, you can dedicate a large portion of any article page to a video player that runs ads. As the page loads, so does that video player. A video ad initiates, and when the user scrolls past the point of being able to see the original video player, the in-article video can detach from its location and dock to another part of the page to follow them as they read.
Corner Video Ads
With corner video ads, you can skip the part where the ad jumps from its original location and docks to the corner of the screen. You can simply have the ad live in a corner of the page, where it won’t obscure the user’s view of the content they came for. Like in-article video ads, corner video ads are meant to follow the user as they read or scroll.
Sidebar Video Ads
Most websites have a sidebar filled with navigational links, related content, publisher information and similar items. You can utilize that real estate for something a little more valuable: video advertising.
Similarly to a corner video ad, the sidebar video ad initiates on page load and pops out to dock to the corner when the user scrolls beyond the sidebar.
Pre-Content Video Ads
We have coined a term for another type of ad that doesn’t fit perfectly into either of the broader in-stream and in-content video ad categories. It’s called a “pre-content” video ad.
This ad type gets a special shout-out here because it can be highly effective. The idea is that you place a video ad in front of something the user really wants to see. It could be a valuable download or a game the user wants to play in a mobile app or even on a desktop gaming website. In any case, the user must watch the video ad in order to gain access to the content.
Other Video Ad Types
With the categories we have covered so far, we have mentioned the most popular types of video ads. However, there are a few other types of video advertising that deserve some attention.
Most common in mobile apps, rewarded video ads add an extra layer of motivation for the user to watch them. The incentive is a reward of some kind.
This can work in a lot of different ways, but one of the most common use cases is in mobile gaming. For example, if you are the publisher of an app that houses a platform game or first-person shooter, you could place a rewarded video ad immediately between the moment when the user loses their last life and the moment the game ends. The reward? An extra life.
Extra lives are an easy example, but you could offer a lot of things: in-game currency, special items or, outside of gaming, discounts on products or services.
Video Companion Ads
These aren’t exactly video ads, but they deserve inclusion on this list because they accompany video advertising. A video companion ad is a display ad that appears alongside or within a video player.
Picture a video player hosted on your website. There is some visual real estate along the bottom, top and sides of the square the player occupies. If you place an ad in one of those places, you have a video companion ad on your hands. In real-world uses, these ads often complement a linear in-stream ad from the same advertiser.
Another example of a video companion ad is the in-video banner. While your video content is playing, a small banner pops up along the bottom of the video but still within the video frame.
Interstitial Video Ads
Interstitial video ads share many qualities with pre-content video advertising. But instead of appearing directly before the content, they appear in between the phases of use of an app or website.
This ad unit, which will take up the entire screen, is most common in apps. It might appear between, for instance, levels of a game or between the point where the user initiates the game and the point when the game begins.
In-Banner Video Ads
It’s important to begin the discussion of this video ad type with a caveat: in-banner video ads are generally frowned upon in the advertising industry. That’s why Playwire doesn’t work with in-banner video. Still, this type of ad is worth covering so you can have a full understanding of what’s out there and some of the problems you can encounter with this type of inventory.
An in-banner video ad appears inside a display banner. These ads don’t use a video player. Instead, they live where a display ad would normally live. What’s the problem? From an industry standpoint, this is seen as a way to try to sneak a video cost per mille (CPM) inside a display impression. Beyond that, there are a few other issues with in-banner video:
- They’re bad for UX. That’s because users are not expecting a video ad inside a banner. These ads often play when the user’s cursor hovers over them, so an accidental hover over a banner video ad is going to trigger an unwanted ad.
- They’re heavy. Dedicated video players are built for speed when playing video, meaning they aren’t supposed to slow your site down. But banners are not built that way, so when they house a video, they can significantly reduce your page speed.
- Google doesn’t like them. These kinds of ads go against Google’s best practices for advertising. The last thing most publishers want to do is upset Google.
Fortunately, there are enough alternatives to in-banner ads to give you plenty of options without having to resort to this method.