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Understanding Common Types of Digital Video Ads

Digital video ads are a vital part of any digital marketing mix. Video has spectacular ROI, a broad reach, and considerable savings over traditional television advertising.

Video views trump static images. Digital video engages viewers and prompts them to action at a greater rate than other forms of content.

This proven success has made digital video advertising very competitive, leading to innovative ways to leverage the unique topography of the ever-evolving digital world.

Streaming content continues to increase among web and mobile users, and the number of online marketing channels that support video advertising, such as mobile devices, continues to multiply.

Since digital video marketing is popular and effective (e.g., increases conversion rate) in comparison with other forms of advertising, has a lower advertising cost vs. traditional television commercials, and has deep market penetration as a multi-channel advertising platform, an intelligent digital advertising strategy requires that marketers understand the common types of digital video ads.

Linear vs. Non-Linear

All digital ads are linear or nonlinear, which is the video ad format.

Linear video ads play before, during, or after the main video content. Linear ads are the most common type of ad and the format to which most viewers are familiar. Television commercials run in this format.

Linear video ads also mimic television ads by running in the same video player as the main content. Typical spots are 15 to 30 seconds long. Linear ads are part of the program. In most cases, the viewer does not have a choice.

Nonlinear video ads play at the same time as the main video content. Nonlinear ads lure the viewer away by opening and running the entire ad in a new video player or click through to a business website.

When clicked, nonlinear ads will stop the main video content and play instead. Many nonlinear ads include a close button (x) and automatically size down to give the viewer an uninterrupted stream of the main video content. The choice is with the viewer.

Types of Linear Ads

Linear ads are called “in-stream” video ads and are divided into before, during, and after.

Pre-roll: The digital video ad plays before the main content “rolls.” For digital marketers, the pre-roll is prime time. Viewers must sit through the ad to watch the main content they’ve sought out. In some cases, a viewer must watch a full 30-second spot before the main content starts (non-skippable), but in other ads, viewers must only watch 5 seconds before choosing whether or not to continue (skippable).

Mid-roll: The digital video ad plays during the main content, sometimes more than once. When these ads play, the main content stops “mid-roll,” the advertisement plays, and then the main content resumes “rolling.” Like pre-roll ads, mid-roll ads can be skippable or non-skippable. Mid-roll ads are intrusive and stop the main content’s action but receive the most views because viewers typically wait until the (non-skippable) ad is over and the main video resumes.

Post-roll: The digital video ad plays after the main content concludes. As you can imagine, this post-roll is the opposite of prime time. Think of the moment a movie ends and the end credits scroll up the screen. The theater empties – fast. That digital video equivalent of that moment is the post-roll. However, if played right, a business can still push its brand and engage potential customers.

Each time a viewer watches a video on YouTube or On-Demand, regardless of platform, you will encounter in-stream linear ads. When done right, a brand’s video ad will be heard as well as seen, so the in-stream video becomes in-stream audio on audio streaming services such as Spotify or Pandora.

Types of Nonlinear Ads

Nonlinear video ads have an added layer of complexity because they can be “in-stream” or “out-stream.” Each category has its subtypes of ads.

Nonlinear: In-Stream

Like linear ads, nonlinear ads are “in-stream” but compete with the video’s main content for the viewer’s attention using a variety of devices, the main two of which are “overlay ads” and “non-overlay” ads.

Overlay Ads

An overlay ad is as it sounds – the ad lays over a part of the video content, typically the bottom quarter of the player.

Non-Overlay Ads

Non-overlay ads run at the same time as the video.

Nonlinear: Out-Stream

Out-stream digital video ads are stand-alone branded content that run “out-stream” or outside of the video player. Out-stream videos can be placed anywhere and remain non-intrusive and effectively communicate a brand’s message directly to the consumer.

On the page, the viewer can launch the ad or navigate away from the ad if they do not want to see it. Other nonlinear features, like overlay ads, can also be used out-stream.

Types of Out-Stream Ads

Out-stream ads are based on placement, or where they appear and run on a typical web page/ad network, and can auto-play or require action by the viewer to play.

In-page: Ad networks like Google Ads and Facebook Ad sell multi-sized placements of stand-alone video players for the sole purpose of running a digital video ad.

In-banner: Banner ads are the billboards of the internet and typically play in a static web banner or mobile app, except in the virtual world, you can manipulate their size by automatically collapsing or expanding them or allowing the viewer to do so. When a banner expands, it takes up the page, and digital marketers can pile on overlay ads, branded video players, and various other features to increase brand awareness and drive online sales.

In-text: Auto-play video ads placed inside an article, blog post, or user-generated content. The video player is visible to the viewer as he or she scrolls through the text, auto-plays once 50% of the player is visible, and auto-stops when the user scrolls past it.

In-feed: Digital video ads for social media marketing. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Linked In, Snapchat, and other social platforms have a content feed that includes social media ads. For example, if a viewer on Instagram is watching Instagram Stories story ads auto-play between content. Social networks that have story features usually have stories ads.

Interstitial: Ads that run between two content pages.

Nonlinear: Interactive

The most effective nonlinear digital video ads for audience engagement are in-stream interactive. Like other nonlinear ads, interactive ads compete for the viewer’s attention and stop the main content from running.

Suppose the viewer chooses to follow the ad. In that case, everything in the marketer’s arsenal – video, animation, graphics, buttons, tag lines, and other visual content – can become interactive elements to prompt customers to click a link that goes to a business website, enter contact information to receive a discount, or whichever angle to promote brand awareness and increase sales.

The Future of Digital Marketing is Video

The online world is fluid and changes at a rapid pace. Digital marketers must be one step ahead of consumer trends and technological features, like expandable ads, to unlock the internet’s full advertising potential.

Video advertising dominates the current landscape. Video has an economy of scale unrivaled by traditional advertising and other forms of digital advertising.

The digital video player is the new battlefield in the old war. Studies consistently show that digital video’s demonstrable ROI is unmatched, and its use by consumers and marketers alike will only increase.

If done right, a brand’s digital marketing strategy that combines business objectives, campaign objectives, advertising goals, creative elements (e.g., captivating images, organic posts) with the power of video will delight customers and exceed advertising objectives.

A brand’s investment in online content such as an Explainer Video or social media platform pays off in reaching its target audience. It creates a permanent library of digital assets that are accessible by active users well in the future.

Understanding the basics of digital video ads is the start of mastering advertising’s most advanced brand-building tool in history.

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