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Understanding Common Types of Digital Video Ads

hand holding smart phone with play button for digital video ads


For brands looking to make an impact, it’s hard to ignore the numbers for digital video ads:

But understanding the various types of digital advertising options available to brands can be challenging as innovation in content delivery and shifting consumer behavior leads to newer opportunities and platforms. Here’s our guide to the most common types of digital video advertising.

Breaking Down the Types of Digital Video Ads

Digital video ads are divided into two overall formats: linear and nonlinear.

Linear video ads are most like traditional TV commercials and play before (pre), during (mid) or after (post) the streaming content. Examples include YouTube’s TrueView ads, where marketers only pay when users choose to watch 30 seconds or more of the video or when they interact with the ad.

Linear ads can be accompanied by a companion ad or may include interactivity options, including branded components of the video player. Examples are brand logos in the progress bar or within the control bar.

Nonlinear video ads (aka overlay ads) are companion ads that usually have overlay images or text. They run alongside content without disrupting the audience’s viewing experience. Nonlinear ads should be small enough for an unobstructed view and should invite users to engage with the brand on their own terms, either during their content or after.

Nonlinear ads can also be accompanied by their own companion ads.

What Are In-Stream Video Ads?

Both linear and nonlinear ads have their own subtypes of ads, as well. For linear, there are in-stream video ads:

  • Pre-roll ads: The video runs before the content that the user watches. This is prime marketing real estate since users are most engaged with the content at the beginning. Two examples include bumper and skippable ads.
    • Bumper ads are videos under six seconds placed before content where users cannot skip to continue to their intended YouTube video. They’re perfect for generating reach and increasing brand awareness, but messages should be short and memorable for optimum impact. Watch an example.
    • Skippable ads are longer and let users skip after five seconds of viewing to reach their YouTube content. Skippable ads have the most options for placements, either before, during or after the video. They can be shown on all device types in the YouTube app or on They’re best for repurposing content you are using elsewhere, and are most effective if the first five seconds are enticing or quickly grasped. Watch an example.
  • Mid-roll ads: Often, video content contains breaks of one to three commercials per content piece. Depending on the platform, these are either skippable or non-skippable.
  • Post-roll ads: As you can guess, these ads play after the content finishes. They’re often considered the least favorable spot, but since users frequently auto-play videos, you still gain exposure and engagement while viewers get ready for the next video.

What Are Out-Stream Video Ads?

For non-linear ads, there are out-stream video ad categories:

  • In-banner videos play inside of a typical static display banner on a variety of websites and mobile apps.
  • In-article videos are auto-play videos that are placed between article paragraphs and visible as a user scrolls down the page.
  • In-feed videos (social video ads) run in content feeds within news sites, blogs, forums and social media feeds.
  • Interstitial videos are shown as a transition or a break in the content. They’re most often seen when clicking on a link on a website page or while using an app.

As you can see, you have plenty of choices for reaching viewers with digital video advertising.

It helps to partner with professionals who understand this ever-shifting field. We have deep experience strategizing, producing and placing digital video ads as part of a broader digital advertising campaign for our clients. Are you ready to reach more viewers? Contact us today.