What are Instream Video Ads: A Simplified Guide

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What are Instream Video Ads: A Simplified Guide

Imagine you’re casually scrolling through your favorite social media platform, immersed in a delightful mix of funny cat videos and engaging lifestyle content. Then, out of the blue, a video ad seamlessly integrates into your feed, capturing your attention without warning. These are known as instream ads.

These ads have become the spotlight, transforming the way brands connect with their audience. Today, we embark on a journey to unravel the artistry behind in stream ads, exploring their definition, uncovering the benefits, and delving into the strategies that make them stand out in the crowded digital landscape.

As we dive deeper into this blog, we will unveil a secret weapon: ad spy tools. These are the tools digital marketers use to gain insights into their competitors’ advertisement strategies.

Whether you’re a digital marketing enthusiast or a seasoned professional, join us in discovering the fascinating world of instream ads and how ad intelligence tools can be the game-changer in your advertising playbook. Ready to dive into the world of engaging, effective digital advertising? Let’s go!

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What are Instream Ads?

At its core, instream ads are short video clips strategically placed within digital content, often appearing before (pre-roll), during (mid-roll), or after (post-roll) the main content. Whether it’s a captivating story, a how-to tutorial, or the latest vlog, these ads seamlessly integrate into the content stream, aiming to capture the viewer’s attention in a non-disruptive manner.

What sets these ads apart is their ability to captivate audiences through storytelling and visual elements. Unlike banner ads or traditional display ads, in-stream ads leverage the power of sight, sound, and motion to convey messages more dynamically. It’s worth noting that these ads are not only a type of YouTube video ads; they are also available on other platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Snapchat.

Characteristics of Instream Ads:

Placement Variety: These ads can appear before your chosen video starts (pre-roll), interrupting the content at a strategic break (mid-roll), or concluding the viewing experience (post-roll). Each placement offers unique advantages in terms of viewer engagement.

Immersive Storytelling: Instream ads leverage the power of visual storytelling. With a limited timeframe, they aim to convey a brand’s message, evoke emotions, or prompt action, making every second count.

How Do They Work?


When you’re engrossed in a video on your favorite platform, instream ads seamlessly insert themselves into your viewing experience. These ads are carefully targeted based on user demographics, interests, and behaviors, resulting in a higher likelihood of relevance and engagement.

Instream Ads Formats

Now, let’s explore the most common in-stream ad formats that make these ads a versatile tool for advertisers:

Companion Ads

Companion Ads accompany the main video content, enhancing brand visibility without obstructing the viewer’s experience. These ads may appear alongside linear and non-linear ads, creating a cohesive brand presence.

Linear Video Ads

Resembling traditional TV commercials, Linear Video Ads are seamlessly integrated ‘in-line’ with the main video content. While they interrupt the natural flow of the video playback, they are known for their high profitability, offering some of the highest CPMs (Cost Per Mille). Despite their interruptive nature, these ads effectively deliver concise brand messages, making them a viable option for advertisers seeking broad exposure.

Non-linear Video Ads (Overlay Ads)

Non-linear Video Ads, also called Overlay Ads, take a different approach, appearing on top of video content without disrupting playback or obscuring the viewer’s perspective. These ads take up only a small portion of the screen within the video player, providing a subtle yet effective way to convey a message.

The primary distinction between non-linear and companion ads is their placement. While companion ads extend beyond the video player borders, non-linear ads remain within, ensuring they do not obstruct the viewing experience.

Difference Between Instream and Outstream Ads


Outstream video ads stand independently on web pages, separate from video content. They automatically play when users scroll into view, pausing when out of sight. Versatile, seamlessly integrating into pages without pre-existing video content, they offer advertisers broader placement opportunities.

While both in-stream and out-stream video ads share the goal of capturing user attention, key factors set them apart. Understanding these distinctions is crucial for advertisers making informed decisions about video ad placements.

Placement: In-stream video ads are strategically placed within video content, becoming integral to the viewer’s interests. 

Unlike native ads, out-stream video ads stand alone as embedded videos on a page; however, to maximize effectiveness, the surrounding content must also be highly relevant.

AutoPlay: In-stream video ads begin streaming when users play the video, allowing a brief window before viewers can skip. 

Outstream video ads initiate playback upon user scroll, automatically pausing when scrolled away, delivering a dynamic viewing experience based on user engagement.

Platform Compatibility: In-stream video ads are exclusively supported on Over-The-Top (OTT) and Connected TV (CTV) platforms, offering advantages in these environments. 

Outstream video ads can be easily placed on pages, even without video content, showcasing flexibility and seamless integration into various online environments.

Benefits of Instream Video Ads

Instream ads offer a range of advantages, making them a strategic choice for cost-effective and flexible marketing campaigns. Let’s take a closer look at the features that make instream ads an effective social media ads option.

Cost-Effectiveness: They offer a cost-effective alternative to creating and promoting original content. Furthermore, views on in-stream ads can be budget-friendly, with reduced costs if users don’t watch the complete ad.

Flexibility in Ad Length: These ads provide flexibility, allowing advertisers to adjust ad length based on platform or website specifications. Advertisers can choose between skippable or unskippable formats, tailoring campaigns to meet specific marketing goals.

Capturing Attention: By interrupting the routine, instream video ads momentarily disrupt viewers’ video-watching sessions, compelling them to pay attention, even if just for a few seconds. This interruption is essential for breaking through the online noise, particularly in a digital landscape where the average social media ad click-through rate worldwide is 1.2%.

Viewer Readiness: In-stream ads capitalize on viewers seeking video content, ensuring a receptive audience. Whether users have just clicked on the videos or reached the middle or toward the end, they are already immersed in the mindset to watch videos and thus ready to engage with the ads.

Compatibility with OTT and CTV Advertising: In-stream ads seamlessly integrate with Over-The-Top (OTT) and Connected TV (CTV), ensuring visibility during shows and movies on these platforms.

Best Practices For Instream Ads


Here are some tips to enhance your instream ads strategy.

Platform Analysis

Identify key platforms supporting in-stream video ads, focusing on giants like YouTube and Facebook. Utilize YouTube ad spy tools, such as PowerAdSpy, for competitor-driven platform analysis, guiding strategic ad placement decisions.

Compelling Content Creation

Craft engaging video content by leveraging insights from competitor analysis through ad spy tools. Understand trends, messaging strategies, and visual elements that resonate with the audience, ensuring your content stands out.

Simple and Actionable CTAs

Implement clear and concise Calls-to-Action (CTAs) in your Instream ads. Ensure your CTAs are simple and compelling, prompting viewers to take specific actions. A well-crafted CTA enhances user engagement and increases the likelihood of desired outcomes.

Competitor Insights

Optimize ad placement with insights from ad spy tools on competitor placements. Analyze successful competitors to strategically position your ads where the target audience is most active. Maximize engagement and conversions through informed placement decisions.

For competitor analysis, you can use ad intelligence tools like PowerAdSpy.

PowerAdSpy: Elevating Your Instream Advertising Strategy


Monitoring trending instream ads and strategies provides valuable campaign optimization insights. However, manually combing through data is time-consuming. This is where ad spy tools like PowerAdSpy come into play. Its advanced features and user-friendly interface empower marketers to delve deep into campaigns, gain actionable insights, and stay ahead in the ever-evolving digital landscape. Let’s explore how PowerAdSpy can elevate your marketing game to new heights.

Vast Database: PowerAdSpy, armed with a database of 500 million plus ads, offers unparalleled insights into platform opportunities for instream video ads. Analyze successful campaigns from various platforms, including YouTube and Facebook instream ads, to create successful strategies for your ads.

In-Depth Competitor Analysis: Dive into competitor analysis with PowerAdSpy’s AI-enhanced filters, enabling a comprehensive understanding of trends, messaging strategies, and visual elements. Craft compelling video content that stands out, with insights drawn from over ten supported platforms.

Save Landing Pages: Store and revisit landing pages directly within PowerAdSpy, streamlining your workflow and enhancing your ability to analyze competitor strategies.

Bookmark Favorite Ads: Bookmark standout ads for quick reference, creating a curated library of inspirational content that can inform and elevate your creative process, guiding your strategies on where to position your instream ads for maximum engagement.

PowerAdSpy is an advanced ad spy tool with multi-platform support for instream video ads. Navigate seamlessly across platforms like YouTube, Facebook, and more, optimizing your reach and engagement strategies. Ready to supercharge your advertising efforts? Let’s explore the possibilities.

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Challenges Of Instream Ads

Instream video ads come with their own set of challenges. Here are some common challenges associated with instream ads:

Ad Blocking: The prevalence of ad-blocking software can impact the effectiveness of instream video ads. Users who employ ad blockers may not see the ads, limiting the campaign’s reach.

Limited Ad Placement Control: Advertisers may have minimal control over where in-stream video ads appear. This lack of control can result in ads being displayed alongside inappropriate content, posing a risk to the brand’s image.

Intrusive User Experience: While disruptive enough to capture attention, instream video ads can sometimes appear as intrusive.

Ad-Compatible Video Player Requirement: For seamless integration, in-stream ads require an ad-compatible video player. As a result, you have to ensure your chosen platforms and publishers support the necessary infrastructure for delivering the ad.


Instream ads have emerged as a captivating force in digital marketing, seamlessly integrating into users’ online experiences. As we conclude our exploration, it’s clear that success in this dynamic field hinges on strategic implementation and a keen understanding of the challenges.

Balancing user experience requires thoughtful approaches, ensuring ads resonate positively with the audience. Leveraging tools like PowerAdSpy for competitor insights amplifies your advertising prowess.

With this knowledge, you can confidently embark on your Instream video advertising journey. Remember, innovation and audience relevance are key. By staying informed and strategic, you have the potential to create compelling campaigns, captivate audiences, and stand out in the evolving landscape of digital advertising. Ready to redefine your ad strategy?  Harness the power of instream ads with creativity and finesse.