Why AdX’s new in-stream classification provides opportunity, not disaster

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By Nick Evans,  Product Manager at Picnic

In the dynamic realm of programmatic video buying, Google’s AdX implemented the OpenRTB 2.6 standards on April 1st, 2024, heralding a significant shift in the landscape. This move, while initially unsettling, presents a unique opportunity for advertisers to redefine their strategies and embrace new advertising efficiencies.

Unravelling the Journey

For years, the in-stream vs outstream distinction has served as a beacon for video buyers to discern high-quality video inventory, while maintaining a scalable trading strategy.

Yet, like many systems, its efficacy has waned over time. A combination of high publisher yields for video players and the introduction of ‘audible & viewable on completion’ as health metrics led to an increase in video inventory that was technically in-stream, but lacked the quality that this classification had been intended to protect.

Small, floating ‘in-stream’ units flooded the market and delivered inflated video completion rates, without delivering much real value to advertisers. Essentially, media owner’s had found a way to game the system, and open-web video has suffered as a result.

Recognising the pitfalls,  the IAB and OpenRTB have intervened to restore integrity to the ecosystem.

A Stricter Definition

Prior to the shift, in-stream was broadly defined as: “advertising played before, during, or after the streaming video content that the consumer has requested.” 

This definition left a lot of room for ‘creative’ video player integrations that technically met this criteria, but not in the true spirit of ‘in-stream advertising’.

The new in-stream criteria marks a pivotal moment. No longer can mere technical compliance suffice. The new standards demand user-initiated starts, default sound-on settings, and a clear alignment of content with user intent. This evolution sets a higher bar for quality, ensuring that in-stream truly delivers on its promise.

Navigating the New In-Stream Terrain

With the supply of in-stream inventory now drastically reduced—estimated at a mere 10% of its former volume—buyers face a crucial decision. Do they overpay for scarce in-stream placements, or adapt to a new paradigm of quality assessment amidst the outstream deluge?

Enter placement targeting—a beacon of precision in a sea of uncertainty. By leveraging the granular data associated with each placement ID, advertisers can gain unprecedented insights into video quality. This approach transcends conventional inclusion/exclusion lists, offering a streamlined path to accessing premium inventory without the premium price tag.

The Future: Genuine Video Ad Quality 

The future of video buying lies not in lamenting the ‘disaster’ of in-stream scarcity but in seizing the opportunities that this change affords. 

Whilst placement ID video targeting might sound daunting, it can help you to avoid the newly inflated premium for the shrinking pile of in-stream inventory. Moreover, and perhaps most importantly, placement targeting offers advertisers a streamlined avenue to tap into truly high-quality video placements, ensuring positive ad experiences for your audience.

Eager to delve deeper into the realm of placement ID video targeting? Don’t hesitate to reach out: Nick@picnic.io