The digital advertising industry is one driven by jargon. We all seem to speak a secret language that outsiders can’t understand. The challenge, however, is that the marketing landscape is evolving really, really quickly. Given the speed at which companies in that ad industry are changing, it’s important that we take a step back and regroup on our definitions. Let’s start with outstream.

Here’s a quick definition.

Long story, short

  • It’s a subset of native
  • It takes place outside of a traditional video player (vs. in-stream, which takes place within a video player)
  • It fits into editorial streams nicely
  • It often runs for an allotted amount of time, yet in many cases is still user-controlled
  • It can be customized to run long-form video

Role in the native advertising ecosystem

When your company produces a piece of branded content, there are numerous distribution opportunities. You’ll want to share that content with as wide an audience as possible—through social media, owned content channels, and content recommendation ads. You can also run that same content on a focused set of publishers that appeal to your exact target audience. Outstream enables targeting at the publisher-level.

Above all, outstream is user experience driven. It is less interruptive than pre-roll and provides more opportunities for engagement. Both sharing and interactive banners are possible to create. Outstream video can help support lead generation with integrated sign-up prompts. Marketers can even layer-in third-party data sources to create a comprehensive buyer journey picture.


The benefits of outstream are similar to native advertising as a whole. The goal is to provide a compelling user experience through storytelling: audiences should step away feeling engaged. Native doesn’t feel like a sales push.

Outstream takes native a step further. A recent (anonymous) Giant Media customer case study explains why:

A large personal health and fitness company recently launched a campaign, featuring creative across 13 regions. The complexity? Branding in each region needs to be different. Using the targeting capabilities that are possible with outstream, the advertiser tested the performance of its creatives in different geographies. From there, the company had a vantage point into its most engaged audiences. By doubling down on targeting these audiences, the advertiser was able to improve overall campaign performance.

Outstream is not only a promotion tool. Because it is engagement-driven, it is an opportunity for audience research and discovery. You can better-understand your highest value segments.

Getting Started

Creative targeting is the heart of a successful outstream campaign. There are several steps that an advertiser should take before choosing a marketing channel or implementing a distribution strategy:

  • Define your audience upfront. Design your content and distribution strategy to find these ideal viewers.
  • Refine that audience even further.
  • Create a piece of content that your audience would value watching. Focus on telling a compelling story–imagine that what you’re creating is a narrative and not an ad.
  • Define your marketing use cases for that single piece of content. Build out your distribution strategy. Commit to running a small test.
  • Expect, before you launch your first campaign, to commit to a process of testing and iteration. You’ll make process-related improvements over time. Don’t expect your first campaign to be perfect–even if you’re successful, there will still be areas to improve.

Choosing the Right Partner

Look for data-driven outstream partners and solutions. Companies with campaign experience can translate insights from past initiatives into future distribution strategies. In other words: learn from other marketers that were once exactly where you are now. Along the way, you’ll also improve the precision in your targeting.

The opportunity in the market is new. Choose a partner that can evolve with you over time.