The Difference Between In-Stream and Out-Stream Video Ads

You’ve probably seen both in-stream and out-stream ads, but do you know their differences and how they can impact your digital marketing goals? Read on to learn all about these video ads!

In stream and out stream video ad examples

Knowing the different types of YouTube video ads can help digital advertisers strategically create and place video ad content. Your goals for the video ad, your budget and your audience all play a factor in choosing the best type of video ad for your purposes.

In this blog, we’re breaking down the difference between YouTube’s in-stream and out-stream ads so you can make the best and most informed video ad decisions for your digital marketing goals.

1. In-Stream Ads

These video ads are the ones you’re probably most familiar with as a consumer and as a digital marketer. There are three main types of in-stream video ads:

  • Pre-roll
  • Mid-roll
  • Post-roll

In-stream video ads are the video ads directly attached to a piece of video content you’re watching. Pre-roll ads show before your selected video plays, mid-roll shows in the middle of the content, and post-roll shows after. Since all of these video ads are directly attached to the video the consumer chose to watch, they are in-stream ads.

For example, if you search in YouTube for a video about how to change your car’s cabin air filter, then click on a video in the search results, you will most likely have to watch a few seconds of a video ad–before you can skip–prior to your cabin air filter video playing. Your chosen video may also have a mid-roll in-stream ad and a post-roll in-stream ad.

Two additional but important characteristics of in-stream ads are as follows:

  • The video ad’s sound must automatically play when the video loads
  • The consumer has to have taken some action indicating they wanted to watch the video they selected
If the video ad plays before a selected piece of content, but the sound is defaulted off, it’s not an in-stream ad, it’s an out-stream ad.

2. Out-Stream Ads

Out-stream ads have the following characteristics:

  • They play alongside content that the consumer didn’t necessarily request
  • Their default sound is off or muted but they still play automatically

Out-stream ads are typically the video ads that play in the middle of an online blog, news article or the like. They are also the video ads that play on the sidebar of the webpage or as a pop-up. Out-stream ads will typically play when a user scrolls onto them and pause when the user scrolls away. However, they can play in an “in-stream” format, but, if the sound is default off and the consumer didn’t necessarily request to watch that specific video, it’s still considered an out-stream ad.

3. How to Choose Between In-Stream and Out-Stream 

As a digital marketer, it’s important to understand these differences to know how your ads will be served and the options online users have to skip, scroll past or interact with the video.

One study found that 65% of online advertisers allocated 40% to 100% of their digital marketing budgets to in-stream video ads and out-stream video ads received more budget than banner ads in 2022.  

Below is a chart by highlighting some key differences between the two formats. 

In-stream and out-stream video ads comparison

Overall, both types of video ads offer value and it’s up to the digital marketer to determine which type best serves their online marketing goals.

Final Thoughts

Video ads are impactful digital marketing tools and it’s important to stay up on the trends and be educated to know which format serves your goals best.

While it might seem like a toss-up between in-stream and out-stream ads, they have core differences that can make or break digital marketing campaigns.

To learn more about the world of video marketing, check out our resources! 

RevLocal is a full-service digital marketing agency providing personalized digital marketing plans to small businesses and multi-location brands. To learn more about what we do and who we are, contact us for a free digital marketing consultation!

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