In the rapidly evolving landscape of online advertising, video ads have emerged as a powerful tool for capturing audience attention and driving engagement. Among the various video ad formats, instream and outstream video ads have gained significant popularity. But which is better? 

In this blog post, we’ll delve into the characteristics, pros, and cons of both instream and outstream video ads, helping you make an informed decision about which format suits your marketing goals and target audience.

What Is Instream Video?

Instream video ads are an online advertising format commonly used on various digital platforms within video content. These ads are designed to be displayed to viewers before, during, or after they watch a video online, typically on platforms such as YouTube, social media sites, streaming services, and standard websites.

Instream video ads are typically non-skippable or skippable only after a specific duration, depending on the platform and ad format. Non-skippable ads are played in their entirety before the viewer can access the desired video content. Skippable ads, on the other hand, allow viewers to skip the ad after a few seconds (typically five) if they choose to do so.

Instream video ads provide advertisers with an opportunity to reach a broad audience and engage viewers while they are actively consuming video content. However, it is essential for advertisers to strike a balance between effectively delivering their message and respecting the viewer’s experience to ensure a positive reception of their ads.

What Are the Types of Instream Video Ads?

Advertisers can use several types of instream video ads to reach their target audience. These ad formats vary in their placement and characteristics. Here are some common types of instream video ads:

  1. Linear Video Ads: Linear video ads are traditional video commercials that play before, during, or after the main video content. They follow a sequential, linear format and can be either skippable or non-skippable. Linear video ads can appear as pre-roll, mid-roll, or post-roll ads.
  • Pre-roll ads: These ads are displayed before the main video content starts playing.
  • Mid-roll ads: These ads are inserted at specific intervals during the video, interrupting the content.
  • Post-roll ads: These ads are shown after the main video content has been viewed.
  1. Non-linear Video Ads: Non-linear video ads are displayed concurrently with the main video content, typically as overlay ads or banners that appear on top of the video player or within the surrounding area. Non-linear video ads are usually skippable, allowing viewers to continue watching the video content without interruption. They are often less intrusive than linear video ads and can provide additional information or a call to action while the video plays.
  2. Companion Video Ads: Companion ads are static or animated display ads that are displayed alongside the main video content. They appear as banners or sidebars and are usually non-intrusive. Companion video ads can be used to complement the video message or provide additional promotional content related to the video. They are often clickable and may direct viewers to a landing page or website for further engagement.

To summarize, the types of instream video ads are linear video ads (pre-roll, mid-roll, and post-roll), non-linear video ads (overlay ads), and companion video ads (displayed alongside the video content). Each type of ad serves different purposes and offers various opportunities for advertisers to engage with their target audience during video playback.

What Are the Pros and Cons of Instream Video Ads?

Instream video ads offer several advantages and disadvantages for advertisers. Here are some pros and cons of using instream video ads:


  1. High Engagement: Video content has the ability to captivate and engage viewers more effectively than other ad formats. Instream video ads allow advertisers to leverage the power of sight, sound, and motion to create immersive and memorable experiences, leading to higher engagement rates.
  2. Broad Reach: Video consumption continues to grow, and platforms like YouTube and social media sites have large user bases, providing a vast audience for advertisers. Instream video ads enable advertisers to reach a wide range of viewers across different demographics, interests, and geographical locations.
  3. Targeting Options: Advertisers can target their instream video ads based on various parameters, such as demographics, interests, behavior, or contextual relevance. This targeting capability helps deliver ads to the most relevant audience, improving the effectiveness of the ad campaign and maximizing return on investment.
  4. Brand Storytelling: Video ads offer an opportunity for advertisers to tell their brand story, convey emotions, and build a connection with viewers more compellingly. Instream video ads allow for longer ad durations compared to other formats, enabling deeper storytelling and brand messaging.


  1. Ad Avoidance: Some viewers may skip or ignore instream video ads, especially if they are skippable after a few seconds. Viewers who are not interested in the advertised content may choose to skip the ad, reducing the ad’s effectiveness.
  2. Intrusiveness: Instream video ads can interrupt the viewer’s desired video content, potentially leading to a negative user experience. Intrusive ads may result in viewer frustration or annoyance, impacting the perception of both the ad and the advertiser’s brand.
  3. Ad Blocking: Ad-blocking software or browser extensions can prevent instream video ads from being displayed, limiting their reach to certain users who actively block ads. This can decrease the overall effectiveness of the ad campaign.
  4. Production Costs: Creating high-quality video ads can be resource-intensive, requiring investment in production, talent, and post-production. The costs associated with producing professional-grade video content may be a barrier for smaller advertisers with limited budgets.
  5. Viewability Concerns: Ensuring that the instream video ad is viewable by the target audience can be a challenge. Factors such as ad placement, ad viewability metrics, and ad fraud can impact the visibility and actual reach of the ad.

It’s essential for advertisers to carefully consider these pros and cons, along with their campaign goals, target audience, and available resources, to make informed decisions about incorporating instream video ads into their marketing strategies.

What Are Outstream Video Ads?

Outstream video ads are online video advertising formats that differ from instream video ads. Unlike instream ads, which are placed within video content, outstream ads are standalone videos placed outside of video content, typically within non-video environments. They are designed to be viewed within the content of a webpage rather than being inserted into pre-existing video content.

Here are some key characteristics and features of outstream video ads:

  1. Autoplay: Outstream video ads typically autoplay when they come into view on a webpage. Once the ad becomes visible on the user’s screen, it starts playing automatically without the need for the user to interact with it.
  2. Sound and Viewability: Outstream ads often play with sound, although most may start in a muted state, allowing users to unmute if they wish. Viewability is typically based on the ad being at least 50% visible on the user’s screen for a minimum of 2 seconds, ensuring that the ad is in a visible position to capture the viewer’s attention.
  3. Non-Intrusive Placement: Outstream video ads are placed within the content of a webpage, such as between paragraphs of an article, within a banner space, or within a social media feed. They do not disrupt the user’s viewing experience by interrupting video content.
  4. Scroll-Based or Time-Based Activation: Outstream ads can be triggered by user actions, such as scrolling down a webpage or after a certain amount of time spent on the page. This ensures that the ad is presented to users when they are actively engaged with the content.
  5. Responsive and Adaptive Formats: Outstream ads are designed to adapt to different screen sizes and devices, including desktop, mobile, and tablet. They can dynamically adjust their size and placement to fit within the available space on the webpage.

Outstream video ads offer several benefits to advertisers, such as expanded reach beyond video platforms, increased viewability, and the ability to reach users in non-video environments. They provide an additional avenue for advertisers to engage their target audience with video content, even when traditional video content is not present.

What Are the Types of Outstream Video Ads: In-slide Outstream, In-content Outstream, and In-banner?

The types of outstream video ads are categorized based on their placement and format within the webpage. Here are three common types of outstream video ads:

  1. In-Slide Outstream: In-slide outstream video ads are placed within slideshows or image galleries on a webpage. As users navigate through the slideshow or gallery, the outstream video ad appears between the slides or images. It provides an opportunity for advertisers to engage users with video content in a visually appealing and interactive manner.
  2. In-Content Outstream: In-content outstream video ads are integrated within the body of written content on a webpage, such as articles or blog posts. These ads automatically play when they come into view as the user scrolls through the content. They are typically placed between paragraphs or within white spaces, ensuring they are seamlessly embedded within the text. In-content outstream ads allow advertisers to capture users’ attention within the context of relevant content.
  3. In-Banner Outstream: In-banner outstream video ads are displayed within traditional display banner ad spaces on a webpage. These ads are often found on a webpage’s top, bottom, or sides alongside other static or animated display ads. In-banners outstream ads automatically play when they are in view, offering advertisers an opportunity to deliver video content within a familiar ad placement.

Each type of outstream video ad offers unique advantages and can be selected based on the specific goals of the ad campaign, the target audience, and the available ad inventory on the webpage. Advertisers may choose the most suitable type of outstream ad based on the user experience, contextual relevance, and the desired level of engagement with their target audience.

What Are the Pros and Cons of Outstream?

Outstream video ads come with their own set of advantages and disadvantages. Let’s explore the pros and cons of using outstream video ads:


  1. Expanded Reach: Outstream video ads allow advertisers to reach a broader audience beyond video platforms. They can be placed within various non-video environments, such as articles, slideshows, or social media feeds. This expanded reach provides access to users who may not be actively consuming video content but are still engaged with other types of web content.
  2. Increased Viewability: Outstream ads are designed to play when they come into view on a webpage. This ensures higher viewability than traditional instream video ads, which can be skipped or ignored. Outstream ads often autoplay, capturing users’ attention as they scroll or interact with the webpage.
  3. Non-Intrusive Placement: Outstream video ads are seamlessly integrated within the content or layout of a webpage. They do not interrupt or disrupt the user’s experience with pre-existing video content. This non-intrusive placement allows for a more natural and contextual presentation of the ad, potentially resulting in a more positive user response.
  4. Creative Flexibility: Outstream ads offer more flexibility in terms of creative execution. Advertisers can leverage a variety of formats, such as in-slide, in-content, or in-banner, to deliver their video content. This versatility allows greater creativity and customization to align the ad with the specific webpage environment.


  1. Ad Avoidance: Despite their higher viewability, outstream video ads are still susceptible to ad avoidance. Users may quickly scroll past the ad or develop banner blindness, resulting in reduced engagement and ad effectiveness.
  2. Potential for Lower Engagement: Outstream ads may not always capture the same level of attention and engagement as in-stream video ads. Users may be less receptive to video content not directly integrated into their desired viewing experience. This can impact the ad’s overall effectiveness in terms of message retention and brand recall.
  3. Limited Inventory: Finding suitable placements for outstream video ads can be challenging, as not all web pages or content formats may support these ad placements. The availability of outstream ad inventory can vary, particularly in specific niche markets or websites with limited ad space.
  4. User Experience Considerations: Outstream video ads must be carefully implemented to ensure they do not disrupt the user experience or negatively impact website performance. Autoplaying video ads, if not properly optimized, can lead to slower page load times, increased data consumption, or user frustration if they impede access to the desired content.

It’s important for advertisers to weigh these pros and cons in relation to their campaign goals, target audience, and the specific context of the outstream ad placements. Careful consideration should be given to aligning the ad format, content, and user experience to maximize the effectiveness of outstream video ads.

Which Is Better – Instream or Outstream Video?

Determining whether instream or outstream video ads are better depends on various factors, including the campaign objectives, target audience, and available ad inventory. Both formats have their strengths and considerations. Here are some factors to consider when evaluating the suitability of each format:

  1. Context and User Intent: Instream video ads are displayed within video content, allowing advertisers to reach users who are actively seeking and consuming video content. This context can provide a higher level of engagement and alignment with the user’s intent. Outstream video ads, on the other hand, reach users in non-video environments, offering the opportunity to engage users who may not be actively seeking video content but are still engaged with other web content.
  2. Reach and Targeting: Instream video ads often have a broader reach, as they can be placed on popular video platforms like YouTube or social media sites. They can reach a broad audience and benefit from advanced targeting options based on demographics, interests, or behavioral data. Outstream video ads can expand reach beyond video platforms, reaching users on various websites and within different types of content. However, the availability of outstream ad inventory may vary, particularly on specific niche websites.
  3. Intrusiveness and User Experience: Instream video ads have the potential to be more intrusive, as they interrupt the user’s desired video content. This can impact the user experience and potentially lead to ad avoidance. Outstream video ads, on the other hand, are often designed to be non-intrusive, and seamlessly integrated within the webpage content. This can result in a more positive user experience, although it may also lead to banner blindness or reduced engagement.
  4. Viewability and Engagement: Outstream video ads often have higher viewability rates than instream video ads, as they typically autoplay when viewed on a webpage. This can increase the chances of capturing user attention. However, instream video ads within video content may offer higher engagement rates, as they leverage the power of sight, sound, and motion to deliver compelling storytelling.

Ultimately, the choice between instream and outstream video ads depends on the specific goals, target audience, and available ad inventory for the campaign. Advertisers may also consider combining both formats in their strategy to leverage the strengths of each and maximize their reach and engagement. Testing and analyzing the performance of each format in relation to campaign objectives can help inform future decisions and optimize ad strategies.

Start With Instream and Outstream Video Ads at Freestar

If you’re looking for an easy way to put video ads on your website, Freestar is here to help you get started. Publishers can use our monetization solution to set up and serve instream or outstream video ads in just a few clicks. Our monetization platform also has several advanced features and yield optimization tools.

Get started today!