Embracing Change: One Year After the IAB’s Latest Definitions to Video, and the Industry’s Adaption

Blog 4 min read | Apr 8, 2024 | Kate Vassallo


April 2023 marked a significant turning point in the video advertising landscape with the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) revising the definitions of instream and outstream video advertising. At JWP, we’ve closely followed these developments, understanding the implications for advertisers, publishers, and platforms alike. This post aims to summarize these changes and share our perspective on how the video ecosystem has evolved one year later.

The Evolution of Instream and Outstream

Historically, instream video advertising was straightforward—it was about delivering a pre-roll ad before the viewer’s desired content, ensuring a seamless experience. This format, particularly pre-roll instream video, has been the gold standard for engagement and attention. The reason is simple: it aligns with the viewer’s intent to watch a specific piece of content, making the advertisement more impactful.

Conversely, outstream video advertising has taken various forms, often pushing the boundaries of what is considered “video” to capture viewer attention. Whether through ads that loop or those that cleverly mimic editorial content with the aid of AI, the aim has been to monetize digital real estate for publishers lacking the means to produce their own video content. These disruptive approaches have served their purpose but not without complications.

IAB’s Response to a Shifting Landscape

The challenge has been the difficulty in programmatically differentiating between genuine video content and creative outstream solutions that merely resemble videos. This ambiguity likely prompted the IAB to redefine instream advertising to ensure clarity and fairness in the marketplace. The new criteria stipulates that a video ad must precede a sound-on or click-to-play video to be considered in-stream. While this move aims to safeguard the integrity of in-stream advertising, it inadvertently excludes traditional in-stream environments that are sound-off, highlighting a crucial gap. The challenge here has been a misclassification of content into one of the more ambiguous definitions, “accompanying content”.

JWP: Insight and Adaptation

At JWP, we’re uniquely positioned to understand and adapt to these changes. First of all, JWP is an instream video player, meaning that our player is designed specifically to support the publisher’s content that they create. Our access to and insights into publishers’ video and ad settings allow us to grasp the nuances of these definitions and their practical implications. Our products are designed to support delivery, engagement and monetization of premium publisher content and ensuring that advertisers buying inventory through JWP are accessing that content in true viewing environments.

The shift away from outstream, as mandated by the IAB, has been largely beneficial for advertisers who have enjoyed the high engagement and completion rates of in-stream. Also, now advertisers seeking this content are not accidentally paying instream CPMs in outstream environments. However, the exclusion of sound-off in-stream placements has posed new challenges, necessitating a more informed approach from advertisers. They now need to discern the quality of video inventory more critically, seeking out “Publisher Pre-roll” placements that guarantee the positioning of ads before professionally produced content.

The Data Speaks: The Advantage of Publisher Pre-roll

Our experience and data underscore the effectiveness of Publisher Pre-roll advertising. In 2023, we observed an impressive average of 85%+ in both viewability and video completion rates (VCR), with our Viewability on Completion (VOC) metric reaching 70.13%—double the industry benchmark of 35%. This success is attributed not only to our strategic ad placement but also to the contextually relevant content that resonates with viewers, driving meaningful engagement and conversions.

Looking Ahead

The IAB’s definition changes have been a step toward more transparent, effective advertising. For JWP, this evolution has been an opportunity to further refine our offerings and empower our partners with high-quality, impactful video advertising solutions. As the landscape continues to evolve, our commitment remains steadfast: to deliver exceptional value to advertisers and publishers by harnessing the power of video in the most engaging, transparent, and effective ways possible.

In the end, the journey through these changes has been about more than just adapting to new definitions; it’s been about leading the charge in creating a more authentic, viewer-centric advertising world. At JWP, we’re excited to pave this path, leveraging our insights, technology, and commitment to excellence to redefine what’s possible in digital video advertising.