Mediavine Outstream Player

outstream ad example shown on an ipad screen

The Mediavine Outstream Player, which runs inside in-content ad slots, is the latest addition to our “decade of video.”

Key Takeaways

  • Mediavine is taking the decade of video to the next level with our Outstream Player.
  • Outstream videos ads appear in traditional ad slots and don’t require video from the publisher to run before (pre-roll), during (mid-roll) or after (post-roll). They’re basically animated display ads.
  • That’s right: Outstream allows content creators to serve video ads without their own video content.
  • Outstream is not new and has previously been used in various forms by Mediavine and other ad management companies, but its inefficiencies (speed, lack of player consistency and discrepancies) led us to develop and release the Mediavine Outstream Player in early 2020.
  • The Mediavine Outstream Player was created specifically for running outstream video, allowing us to control the quality, consistency and speed, as well as providing two times more revenue for our publishers and a better reader experience.
  • If you’re a Mediavine publisher, you already have our Outstream Player running.
  • Overall, outstream is not as lucrative as traditional video ads. So publishers, please keep creating video content for your sites.

As you’ve heard us say a few thousand times, video ads pay more than traditional display advertisements. It’s why we’ve pushed Mediavine publishers to produce video for years now.

When you think of video ads, you’re probably envisioning ads that run before, during or after your own video content — known as “instream” ads.

Instream video advertisements involve standard pre-roll ads (before the video content, the most common placement) as well as mid-roll (in the middle of the video, almost like a commercial break) or post-roll.

But there’s another type of video advertisement altogether — “outstream” ads, which (you guessed it) run outside of the content stream.

In essence, outstream is the opposite of instream, and we’re here today to tell you all you ever wanted to know about these ads.

What are Outstream Video Ads?

Outstream video ads are similar to the traditional pre-roll instream ads you’re used to seeing — the difference is simply that there is no content following them when once the ad is over.

screenshot of a Mediavine

Put another way, the ad is the video content the user is watching. It may even be easier to think of these as animated display ads.

In any event, when the ad is over, depending on the implementation, it will either collapse, give the user a chance to rewatch it or run another ad.

That’s it. No publisher-generated content after.

Outstream ads typically appear inside content surrounded by text, or inside of a feed, similar to where you might see a traditional video.

The big difference between instream and outstream? Earning potential.

Advertisers know there’s a big difference. In fact, when you send out a bid request, they are marked differently. (For my fellow OpenRTB nerds reading this, it’s the placement attribute of the video object.)

As a result, the amount advertisers are willing to pay varies widely.

It’s a popular (and probably accurate) assumption that users will be more engaged with pre-roll advertisements when they’re waiting to watch the content that follows it as opposed to a standalone video ad.

This is why typically most advertisers prefer instream and will pay more for it. Instream also tends to score higher in the metrics buyers look at when purchasing inventory, like viewability and completion rates.

But don’t be discouraged. While outstream may not perform as well as instream, these videos earn much more than standard display ads.

Think of outstream as a middle ground between the two — one with real potential, albeit with some drawbacks as well.

The Problems with Outstream Ads

The reason the industry has been slower to adopt outstream ads than you might think is that early on they were predominantly served by major players in the space, like Teads, in dedicated ad spots on webpages.

This meant publishers had to give up ad spots on pages where regular display ads could’ve run, only running an outstream ad there.

That would be fine, as long as it worked. But with their lower fill rates and the potential for errors with video ads (a whole separate topic), they often ended up actually hurting revenue rather than increasing RPMs.

Fortunately, things are turning around. Given the growing popularity of Prebid.js and header bidding, even the outstream dinosaurs are now competing in the same spots where traditional ads are served.

Now whichever ad bids the highest — whether it’s the outstream ad or the traditional display ad — will win the spot.

woman sitting on couch with dog, looking at her laptop

As you can imagine, video competing against display ads could become lopsided quickly. So why don’t you see these everywhere?

Well, even in standard slots and even in a global auction, outstream ads still have their issues when compared to display ads:

1. Separate Players Can Lead to Bad Experiences

The lack of coherent standards and best practices regarding outstream players is one of the biggest hurdles to widespread adoption.

Yes, outstream can compete in traditional display ad spots now, but that doesn’t make the entire process uniform. Typically, each outstream ad partner wants to run its own video player.

This can lead to an inconsistent experience and one that’s largely outside of publishers’ control. Some videos may not be muted; others might play before they’re in view; others could pause if you scroll past them.

Beyond those frustrating inconsistencies, there’s the speed component. If you have multiple outstream ads on a page and you’re loading multiple players on that page, expect a significant pagespeed impact.

2. Outstream Ads Are Slow

Again, speed kills. Video files are much larger than traditional display ads, and some outstream players themselves can be hundreds of kilobytes — the size of multiple well-optimized images.

That often means slower ads, which will hurt your user experience and potentially your site’s Core Web Vitals.

Slow down your site enough and running these higher-paying ads may not produce more revenue due to the collateral damage.

3. Discrepancies

This is the big one.

Discrepancies are the differences in payment between what a publisher’s ad server reports compared to the advertiser or ad exchange.

Unfortunately, these discrepancies are quite common with outstream, or any video ads, because the ad server counts an outstream ad once it wins the auction and starts to render.

Meanwhile, the ad exchange will only count it once the video ad has fired its impression tracker.

In order for the video ad to fire its impression tracker, the video file must successfully load and start to play, typically for one second.

Due to ad error rates and the complex nature of video in general, a lot of ads simply don’t load in time — or at all.

Some outstream players end up failing up to 70% of the time.

Suddenly those high-paying video ad CPMs don’t seem so high — but here’s the good news: You’re with Mediavine, and we solve for these things.

How? We built our own outstream player, of course.

Introducing the Mediavine Outstream Player

Built to the latest IAB VAST and VPAID specs, Mediavine released its own extremely lightweight and fast outstream player in 2020.

Most video players, including the Mediavine Video Player, are complex and built to handle things like adaptive streaming, playlists, playback controls and many more features that aren’t necessarily needed for outstream.

Historically, outstream players were built using the same technology as full-fledged video players, such as the Prebid.js players that relied on Video.js.

But for the Mediavine Outstream Player, we started from scratch and designed it to do exactly what it was meant to do.

Take a VAST or VPAID ad and play the advertisement. That’s its only job, and with this philosophy, we knew we could create a smaller, faster player that eliminated all of the roadblocks listed above.

Since our player loads quickly, a much higher percentage of ads actually load and play than you see with traditional video players.

This means a huge reduction in discrepancy adjustments, which means Mediavine publishers are running the highest paying outstream ads online.

Also, since we control the experience, we can regulate the quality of the ads and eliminate the annoying variables we discussed above.

Mediavine’s Outstream Player limits how many ads play on a page and ensures that they don’t play while offscreen — significantly mitigating the speed, bandwidth and battery concerns associated with outstream.

Most exciting of all? Since it’s our player, we’ve been able to increase the competition and create a more vibrant market.

The Mediavine Outstream Player + The Mediavine Exchange

We recently announced the Mediavine Exchange, an exclusive Server-To-Server header bidding solution that we architected internally.

One of the most exciting things about this is that the Mediavine Exchange is built off the OpenRTB — the universal platform for transacting digital ads — which allows for lots of custom integrations with top SSPs and DSPs.

Without getting too technical, by running on OpenRTB, we’re able to connect to partners that did not previously support outstream.

Basically every major exchange — Magnite (formerly Rubicon), Pubmatic, Xandr, OpenX, Index Exchange — is on board, and the result is the largest, most efficient outstream auction ever created.

That’s the power of the Mediavine Exchange, which Mediavine publishers alone have access to and which is designed to increase revenue dramatically over traditional client-side header bidding over time.

How to Opt In to Mediavine Outstream Ads

In one form or another, if you run ads, you’ve run outstream for years as it is, whether you’re with Mediavine or another ad management company.

Publishers who work with Google AdExchange, or native exchanges like Triplelift, or dedicated players like Teads — a.k.a. everyone — have already been running these ads to various degrees.

So, in short, you are already opted in.

What we’re telling you today is that these ads will be rendered more efficiently for Mediavine publishers with the custom-built Mediavine Outstream Player.

A faster, more consistent and more lucrative experience awaits.

When Does This Launch?

Again, it’s already in effect.

The Mediavine Outstream Player debuted in early 2020 as part of our efforts to combat RPM declines in the initial wave of pandemic-related economic shutdowns.

This initiative is a part of why Mediavine publishers saw the smallest revenue declines in the industry, despite the incredibly challenging circumstances, and many enjoyed a record Q4.

Why Are We Talking About it Now?

Mediavine likes to wait until our technology has been fully tested and is operating at close to maximum efficiency before we announce it.

In an industry where companies often issue press releases about products in the concept phase or early-stage development, Mediavine waits not just until we’re up and running, but until we’re truly ready for primetime.

The Mediavine Outstream Player is.

With more exciting features powered by the Mediavine Outstream Player coming in the next few months, we knew now was the time to unveil this game-changing ad experience our engineers built.

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