As more and more people have broadband Internet and high-speed cellular data service, online video is becoming more popular than ever before. When you search something, video results are often featured on the top because it is visual and can deliver a lot of information within only a few seconds. Video publishers and platforms like YouTube and many smaller website owners are enjoying a huge increase in traffic and they all monetize that traffic with in-stream video ads. In-stream video advertising is divided into 2 types: linear video ads and non-linear video ads. Video ad servers can serve and track these ad formats with the industry standard: Video Ad Serving Template, also known as VAST.
Linear Video Ads
Linear video ads are familiar to many people because they are similar to traditional TV ads. The ad plays before, during or after the main video content in the same video player. Thus, its official name is in-stream linear video advertising.
It’s typical 15-30 seconds long but 15 seconds is often considered the optimal duration because online users have many choices and patience is in short supply. To accommodate this behavior, the vast majority of in-stream video ads have a “Skip this Ad” button. Skippable ads reduce the impact of ad interruption and lets viewers stay in control if they indeed want to see the ad or if they are not interested. The end result is a positive experience and a win-win situation for both the viewers and the advertisers. However, video advertising is flexible and there are times when you might want non-skippable ads, which force the viewers to see the ad, often in exchange for a longer, more valuable, playback or fewer ad breaks.
When the viewers are committed to watching the video playback, they are willing to encounter accompanied ad breaks. You can make it an even better experience if you can deliver interesting and relevant ads with proper ad targeting. For example, a video game ad would fit very well into a gaming channel. With event tracking, advertisers know the viewing progress of their video ads. Those ads that have a high number of Complete events are highly effective and should be studied further.
Pre-roll video ads
A pre-roll ad plays before video content can be viewed. This order has a major advantage because viewers are willing to watch the ad, or at least the first few seconds of a skippable ad, so they can continue to see the main content. Impressions for pre-roll ads are high.
Mid-roll video ads
A mid-roll ad plays in the middle of the video content. Depending on the length of the main video, there might be one or multiple mid-roll ads. After the mid-roll ad finishes, the main video resumes. It is important to time the ad placements at suitable breaks or risk becoming a major distraction. Because the viewers are already in the middle of the video playback, they are often willing to continue through these ad breaks. Thus, impressions for mid-roll ads are also high.
Post-roll video ads
A post-roll ad plays after the end of the video content. Its viewability rate and impressions are quite low because it is at the very end and viewers already watched what they came for and have little motivation to continue. Creative and smart advertisers should make these post-roll ads very short and be as direct as possible. It is a good idea to include an attractive offer and a call-to-action right away so the viewers can make a quick decision to find out more about the offer or end their watching activity.
Non-Linear Video Ads
Non-linear video ads are a bit different from linear video ads. This format is not a video inserted into another video so that is why it’s called a non-linear ad. It does not block or disrupt the main video playback like a linear ad. However, it displays at the same time the video plays so it is still considered in-stream video ads. It is displayed over the main video content, typically with images, text, video or a combination using HTML code. Because of its positioning, they are called overlay ads.
It is a good idea to configure overlay ads at a position that minimizes obstruction of the playback content, typically the bottom 20% of the video player. The goal is to encourage viewing and engagement/click, which pauses the playback and opens the landing page in a new tab or window, separately from the current tab. Overlay ads typically have a Close button or can be configured to auto-disappear or auto-refresh after a number of seconds, typically 5-15 seconds.
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