Recently, the IAB Tech Lab introduced its new Video Ad Guidelines, bringing significant changes to instream and outstream formats, as well as introducing four new categories for digital video ads. In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at these changes and understand how they impact the advertising ecosystem.

The IAB Tech Lab’s Video Ad Guidelines have made a few noteworthy revisions to instream and outstream video ads, aiming to enhance user experience and ensure transparency. Let’s dive into the specific changes for each format.

Instream video ads

  1. Ad duration and frequency: the new guidelines emphasize the importance of striking a balance between user experience and advertiser objectives by recommending shorter ad durations and limiting ad frequency. This helps prevent ad overload and excessive interruptions during video playback.
  2. Ad skipping limitations: to offer a fair balance between user choice and advertising needs, the guidelines provide recommendations on ad-skipping. Advertisers should set clear limits on the number of ad skips and ensure that users have the opportunity to engage with the advertising content while respecting their preferences.
  3. Viewability and verification: the guidelines set stronger requirements for ad viewability and verification. Advertisers are encouraged to adopt industry-standard measurement metrics to ensure accurate reporting and provide consistent transparency for all stakeholders.

Outstream video ads

  1. Contextual relevance and placement: the guidelines highlight the importance of appropriate ad placement and contextual relevance. Advertisers are encouraged to align their outstream ads with surrounding content to enhance user engagement while reducing ad fatigue. 
  2. User-initiated sound and control: outstream ads typically play without sound until the user initiates sound playback. The guidelines reinforce this approach, allowing users to have control over the audio experience while enabling advertisers to effectively convey their messages when sound is engaged. 
  3. Autoplay and viewability: The revised guidelines address autoplay concerns and recommend implementing viewability thresholds to ensure ads are only displayed when viewable. This ensures ads are seen by users in a manner that maintains ad effectiveness while providing a positive user experience. 

Introducing Four New Categories of Digital Video Ads 

The IAB Tech Lab’s Video Ad Guidelines also introduced four new categories of classification for digital video ads, designed to provide clarity and standardization in the industry. Advertisers also want to know what kind of ad they’re serving – whether it’s a pre-roll ad on a video the user wants to watch, an outstream ad in a news article, or something in-between.  Let’s take a look at the new additions:

  1. In-stream: In-stream refers to video ads that are inserted into the stream of video content, typically before (pre-roll), during (mid-roll), or after (post-roll) the main video content. These ads play within the video player of the content being viewed and are commonly found on platforms like YouTube, streaming services, and other online video content.
  2. Accompanying Content: A big driver of video supply, and previously labeled also as ‘instream’. These ads generally autoplay muted when scrolled into view, or are floated to the corner of the screen, with accompanying video content that may or may not be relevant to the article it is placed within.
  3. Standalone: Standalone video ads are those that are presented independently of any other content, meaning they are not inserted into the stream of video content. Instead, they are typically displayed on their own on a webpage or within an app, without being associated with specific video content. Essentially, the classic ‘outstream’ ad.
  4. Interstitial: Interstitial ads are full-screen ads that appear between content transitions, such as when a user is navigating between pages or screens within an app or website. They typically occupy the entire screen and often appear during natural breaks in the user’s interaction, such as when loading a new page or transitioning between app screens. Interstitial ads can include both static images and video ads.

The introduction of these new Video Ad Guidelines marks a shift in the digital advertising landscape, impacting both advertisers and publishers. Adhering to these changes allows advertisers to create engaging ad experiences while considering user experience, while publishers can ensure transparency and consistency in delivering high-quality content. These guidelines foster a healthier advertising ecosystem, and embracing them creates new opportunities for authentic connection, ultimately driving improved campaign results.