online video

A Buyer’s Guide to Navigating IAB Tech Lab’s New Online Video Guidelines

Yerko Olguin, Director, Client Services, Agency

May 28, 2024 | 6 min read

Online video (OLV) advertising spend will surge to $120B this year, marking a 14% YoY increase. OLV inventory refers to any digital video content that is not on a social media platform or a streaming service—think of surfing the internet, watching a make-up tutorial, or a video of how to change your car tire. It’s become a key channel for marketers, capturing growing audience share and attention. Last year, the average person watched 17 hours of online video content per week. 

Online video’s pull underscores the importance of video ads as a lucrative source of revenue for publishers. However, for buyers, navigating the realm of OLV inventory requires understanding the distinctions between the different types of video ads — particularly in the wake of the IAB’s amended Video Ad Format Guidelines, which introduced a new video field labeled video.plcmt. 

Last year, the IAB Tech Lab updated its 2022 Ad Format guidelines to enhance transparency in digital video, with the user’s intent front and center. Given the new guidelines via video.plcmt, many predict that once adjusted, less than 10% of web video will be eligible for Instream declaration, which would reduce the majority of web video that is currently marked as Instream. That is a huge shift for buyers to consider.

The silver lining is that this shift also creates an opportunity for buyers to reevaluate how they view and buy OLV supply. These changes signal greater transparency in supply. They also underscore how imperative it is for buyers to understand the supply they’re actually bidding on, its value, and how that inventory fits into their greater marketing goals. 

Redefining Online Video Using Video.PLCMT 

Given these revised guidelines, publishers must identify their video as one of the four placement types outlined by the IAB using 1-4 in the PLCMT field. SSPs will pass these declarations onto DSPs for buyers to target and purchase accordingly. Here is a breakdown of what each PLCMT value represents. 

1. Instream Video: This refers to content that has a clear intent from the user to watch about a topic that a user requested to see and is the main focus of a web page. Again, think of a recap of who wore what at the Met Gala on Vogue or the highlights of last night’s game on ESPN. Sound on is also a consideration point, but because some browsers may override auto sound on, that shouldn’t be a main attribute of Instream. Again, it’s all about the user’s intent to watch that video. 

2. Accompanying Content: This placement was previously considered Instream, but since user intent isn’t a clear distinction here, and it’s not the main content on the page, it now has its own designation. The ad still plays within editorial content and has pre, mid, and post-placements. For this placement type, the sound is off by default. You may find these placements on recipe sites, news sites, and any other page where the publisher has video content that is likely related to the article or content you are reading. 

3. Interstitial Video: Interstitial video includes full-screen video ads that appear between the user’s content-consuming journey. Interstitials cannot be scrolled past and take up the majority of the on-screen view.
They are found within apps as users navigate through them and slideshow-type content sites. Think of ads between page loads or gaming apps as you level up. Great for viewability, completion rates, and, most importantly, user attention due to it being the only content on screen. 

4. Standalone: Standalone refers to video placements that only show ads without any other editorial content. The format doesn’t matter; it can be a floating player, a slideshow, or a native placement. This describes what most advertisers picture when they think of “Outstream.” The importance here is that publishers deliver these units with the user’s experience in mind. 

An Underlying Opportunity

Many marketers and traders have said they only want to buy Instream OLV. However, that may be more challenging moving forward. According to the new definitions, there is less scale, and true Instream placements will create more competition in programmatic and increase CPMs. That is why buyers must understand the value of the other placements. 

While PLCMT 2-4 videos may not possess the same “user intent” as Instream videos, they offer several overlooked advantages.

Efficient pricing: Overall, these placements tend to be much less expensive than Instream due to the scale it provides. Brands can use them to target specific performance campaign KPIs and back into their goals.

Maximized scale: Advertisers can extend their reach, giving them more choice and scale across reputable publishers that provide a good end-user ad experience.

High viewability, while less intrusive: With user experience high on their priority list, many publishers strategically embed these placements to capture their viewers’ attention and deliver relevant, viewable ads.

Done right, OLV ads allow brands to maximize ad dollars by reaching audiences at scale while achieving their KPIs. They offer options for pre-roll, mid-roll, and post-roll ad units—all in high-quality, premium environments.

Leveraging Online Video Effectively

Publishers and advertisers need to strategize effectively to maximize the unique benefits of online video in the current market. 

As we mentioned, Instream is what we hear marketers want most, but these new classifications will limit the scale of Instream. In the past, accompanying content passed as Instream, and that is why marketers enjoyed lower CPM prices and great scale when buying “Instream.” However, that will no longer be the case. Publishers with true Instream understand the premiumness of their inventory and price it accordingly. If a marketer does it right, accompanying content, interstitials, and standalones will all play their part in achieving the scale and efficient pricing along with effective performance.

To help marketers navigate the newly labeled video inventory, Magnite can offer private marketplace deals (PMPs) for scarce video inventory and auction package deals curated to performance metrics, verticals, or audiences at scale for video. Examples of Private Marketplace Deals and Auction Package Curation that we offer include true Instream, high-quality accompanying content and Outstream, high viewability, and high completion with no MFA inventory.

These deals empower advertisers to partner with our premium publishers to reach viewers in quality, high-impact environments while hitting their KPIs. As experts in curated supply, we help the buy-side activate effective, scalable, and premium OLV supply—whether it be true Instream or high-quality accompanying content, interstitials, or standalones.

I, for one, am excited to see how this new field will help buyers and publishers transact with more transparency around the inventory they’re targeting. There will be initial headwinds, but over time, it will be for the better. 

For more information on Magnite’s online video advertising solutions, contact us at

Tags: Buyer, OLV

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