Native Outstream Video Ads: What They Are And Why They Exist

You’ve seen them everywhere – in between paragraphs of your favorite blog, or news story – and you may have wondered…wait, do they belong here? The answer is both, yes, they do and, no, they don’t.

Let’s start with this: What is native outstream video and why is it used?

Native outstream video is a daunting name for a very simple promotional tool. Native speaks to the story-driven nature of the video and the “like it was born there” relationship to the content surrounding it. Outstream refers to the placement of the video – situated between paragraphs of written digital content rather than in-stream with other video content as in the case of pre-rolls.

Native outstream video ads are desirable because they’re considered less disruptive and annoying than pre-rolls and pop-ups and more noticeable than tuned-out banner video ads. Another bonus is that they allow for longer, brand-building videos more in the vein of content marketing than spots. Native outstream videos are typically intended to add value – to entertain, educate, or inspire – while pre-rolls are geared toward driving sales or raising funds.

Native advertising is, statistically speaking, a good solution to the issue of “banner blindness” caused by the homogenous and loud nature of banner ads. Native advertising blends with the content on the page by offering similar messaging and/or look and feel rather than disrupting the flow of the page in the way that flashy, boxed in banner ads can.

When to Use Them

 A video ad promoting $.99 any-size drinks wouldn’t be a good choice for a McDonald’s native outstream video. But, an anthem would be. A sponsored short about food sourcing, or a funny story about a McDonald’s family picnic would be. And, a brand reputation spot really would be.

It’s important to choose pages and content that fits your brand’s message in order to create measurable brand lift. For instance, an airline may consider placing a video with a sustainability-related storyline on an eco-friendly blog or in a sustainable aviation article.

The content is generally shareable, intended to be shared, and is shared…to the average tune of 30% or higher earned media.

How They Help

When your brand runs a sales-driven pre-roll campaign there’s no expectation of earned media, because, well, there’s no earned media. This a major benefit to Native outstream. The content is generally shareable, intended to be shared, and is shared…to the average tune of 30% or higher earned media.

And, although the content is editorial in nature, there can be a strong CTA – to share, to visit the website, to request more information, etc. And, because of the editorial nature of the content, the viewer feels motivated to click out of interest rather than coercion.

Where They Go

There are a couple of placements for native outstream videos – called in-feed or in-read editorial videos. Here are a couple of examples.


In-feed videos appear on mobile devices within feeds and will generally have a description, headline and logo attached. The video automatically plays once in view.


In-read videos appear between paragraphs of written content. And, while the more native-seeming, the better, it’s meant to be a stand-alone branded message.

 To play or not to play

Different providers offer different options when it comes to native outstream advertising. One is the click-to-play option, which means the video will remain static until someone hits the play button. The second is responsive in-view native outstream which means the video is on auto-play as long as it’s at least 50% in view. Once the visible portion is less than 50% the video automatically pauses and will pick up where it left off once half of the video is in view again.

The Case for Native Outstream vs. Preroll 

Native Video “Push” Video
Format Click-to-play (voluntary views) Pre-roll (forces viewers to watch ad)
Length Typically over 30 seconds Typically 15 or 30 seconds
Marketing Goal When you want viewers to take action after the video Awareness
Cost-Per-View (CPV) $0.20 – 0.25 $0.10 – 0.12
Clickthrough Rate (CTR) 5-8% .5% – 1%
Earned Media 36% is typical

Source: Giant Media

While native outstream allows brands more flexibility, expansive reach, and more earned media, there’s one pretty big requirement. The video has to be good to work.

 The Hard Part

While native outstream allows brands more flexibility, expansive reach, and more earned media, there’s one pretty big requirement. The video has to be good to work. Good story, valuable message, and strong CTA are all essential.

When all the key elements are all there, though, the results can be far beyond worth it.


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