What’s the Difference Between In-Stream and In-Banner Video Ads?

Reading time: 5 minutes

Video is a very powerful ad format. 

According to recent surveys, video ads[5] help marketers to better influence their audiences by driving up ad sales up to 85%. Moreover, a recent study conducted by VidMob found that businesses using video ads to display certain emotions, such as surprise, within the first few seconds yielded a performance increase of 360%!

This would include in-stream ads and banner ads[2] displaying videos as well —which is exactly what we’re going to talk about in this article. To learn more about the difference between in-stream ads and in-banner video[3] ads, and which are best for your advertising needs, keep reading.

In-Stream Video Ads

In-stream ads are the video ads that usually appear on video players where users go to watch series and other types of content. The ads themselves run for 15 to 30 seconds at a time, however, 15 seconds is considered the optimal time frame, and there’s usually an option to “skip this ad” so that the user experience doesn’t get interrupted.  

In a nutshell, in-stream video ads[1] are broken down into two different formats: Linear and nonlinear, and either format can include a banner ad that gets displayed outside of the video player. 

Let’s take a closer look:

Linear Video Ads

Linear video ads are a basic format of in-stream video ads. They act like TV commercials in that they intentionally interrupt the main video content to advertise a product or service. Linear video ad formats often include interactive components or are followed up by the aforementioned banner (companion) ad. 

These types of ads also tend to take up the entire space of the video player, and they’re referred to as linear simply because they are played in a specific sequence that falls in line with the main content. 

Therefore, there are three types of linear video ads:

  • Pre-roll ads, which are shown before the video’s main content
  • Mid-roll ads, which pop up in the middle of the content, acting as commercial breaks and will often pop up more than once depending on the length of the main video content
  • Post-roll ads, which come up at the end once the main content has concluded. These typically come in handy when a user is waiting for another video to play automatically

As far as which works best, here’s the takeaway:

Mid-roll video ads tend to have the highest completion rates. This is because the viewer is already fully immersed in the content. Therefore, he or she is more likely to wait it out and allow the ad to finish so they can get back to the main content.

Another unique feature of linear ads is that they allow for an interactive component to be added. For example, clicking a link to get more information, downloading a demo file, or even subscribing to a newsletter. They can also be a mix of video, static images, animations, and even text to cater to the user experience.

Nonlinear Video Ads

Nonlinear video ads are commonly referred to as “overlay video ads.” Nonlinear or overlay ads usually run simultaneously with the main video content that a viewer is watching. This allows for a non-interruptive experience as the viewer can continue to watch their video content with the non-linear ad off to the side — without stopping the main content.

Nonlinear ads may also be designed using video, static images, animations, text, or all four. They’re also designed to only take up a small portion of the screen so they can continue to play and entice the viewer to check out whatever is being advertised. A unique feature of nonlinear video ads is that if a viewer does decide to engage with an ad, the video of the main content will automatically pause until the user closes the ad. 

If the user decides not to interact with the ad at all, however, it may disappear on its own, minimize itself leaving a reminder button, or simply continue to keep playing until the viewer engages. 

Companion Video Ads

As previously mentioned, companion ads are also used. These types of ads are in-stream video ads that play alongside the main video content in various forms, including rich media[4] or wrapping. 

Companion video ads come in several sizes as well, with the primary goal to serve as a reminder ad to maintain a brand’s visibility. These ads do not appear on their own, however, as they’re designed to accompany the linear and non-linear ads to boost their efficacy.

In-Banner Video Ads

In-banner video ads take on in-display, in-page video, interstitial, incentivized video, and in-feed formats. These banner ads typically consist of 300×250 pixels whereby the videos are embedded and can expand into a large interactive panel or work to redirect viewers to the specific domain where the video ads are hosted. 

Picture a thumbnail image or video screenshot with a short description that you can click on or hover over to enlarge.

In-banner video ads are less popular among marketers compared to in-stream ads simply because they’re newer to the advertising scene. However, you’ve likely come across these types of ads more frequently than you realize if you spend a lot of time on YouTube or websites utilizing the Google Display Network. You may have also heard these types of video ads referred to as “discovery ads,” as they tend to appear natively in contextually similar video search results. 

In-banner ads come with one major benefit: When viewers click on the video or video thumbnail, they don’t realize right away that they’re actually clicking on an advertisement. This is because in-banner ads don’t interrupt the user experience by pausing the main video content or taking up the whole screen. 

Instead, in-banner video ads subtly appear on the sidebar or very top of the search results without forcing users to watch them. Instead, they allow the users to choose whether or not to view by clicking, which makes them more suitable for brands that want to promote product or service awareness rather than try to push for conversions. 

Video advertising is an incredibly powerful tool that can put your brand directly in front of the eyes of potential customers — and make the most out of their attention. Regardless of the format you choose — in-stream ads vs in-banner ads — you’ll likely start seeing more conversions in impressions, clicks, and sales conversions.

In today’s increasingly competitive digital world, you really can’t afford not to at least try them out.

1. in-stream video ads. In-stream video ads are shown before, during or after a video gets played.
2. banner ads. Banner ads are image-based rather than text-based and are a popular form of online advertising. The purpose of banner advertising is to promote a brand and/or to get visitors from the host website to go to the advertiser's website.
3. in-banner video. In-banner video creatives are played in standard banner placements rather than in video players. AppNexus serves these creatives with the JW Player for Flash to enable playing in the banner placements. Any banner placement may accommodate an in-banner video creative if allowed by the publisher.
4. rich media. Advertising appearing in a ‘richer’ form. These units are outside of the standard ad sizes and usually include special placements and movement. Examples of rich media units include skins, sponsor bars, pushdowns, rising stars.
5. video ads. Video ads are ads that display within video formats. Many different variations and types of video ads exist. They can serve before, during or after the video plays.

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