A guide to best mobile ad types and formats

5 July 2019

At the beginning of 2019 (According to We Are Social and Hootsuite’s research) there are 3.9 billion active mobile internet users. That means that almost 78% of all users daily appear online either via mobile web or in-app. This fact inevitably boosts ad growth. Let’s run through best mobile ad types and formats.

Depending on where specifically user will interact with ads, it can be categorized as mobile web advertising or in-app ads. The key difference is simple: mobile web ads are placed on mobile versions of websites and platforms, while in-app ads are displayed in various applications, as it comes from its name.

Both options bring their benefits to advertisers – and users. Here’s a brief overview of what advertisers can get by placing ads each way.

Mobile web advertising

So far, users spent 13 minutes a day on mobile websites, according to eMarketer. By 2020, that will likely drop to 12 minutes daily. However, even though users spend more and more time in apps, mobile web ads still offer advertisers a wider range of properties in terms of ad formats.

Also, with mobile web ads, advertisers can reach audiences using standard ad formats, like mobile web banner, video ads, and more making it much easier for advertisers to make a creative that would be perfectly displayed on desktop and mobile devices.

Thus, mobile web ads are great for cross-platform ad campaigns, letting to reach an audience across a variety of platforms using just one version of an ad. Besides, compatibility creates a better user experience for the customer, who will be more apt to click on an ad that looks like it belongs on a site.

Mobile web ads is also a cost-effective option. Due to responsiveness and auto-resizing of ad formats, advertisers will have no trouble when new smartphone and tablet screen sizes and resolutions are launched as they won’t need to create new ads in all kinds of changing sizes.

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Learn how you can do that with Admixer Mobile Ad Server

In-app advertising

The most significant advantage in-app ads bring to advertisers and app developers is the amount of time that users spend with applications. Conforming to eMarketer, 89% of mobile usage time is spent in-app.

Alongside with this, in-app ads provide a better user experience. Even though ‘nobody likes ads’, apparently, some advertising is more tolerable and even found attractive and likable than others. With this in mind, advertisers can focus on in-app ads to create better ad experiences.

Being less distracting, highly interactive and engaging, and better controlled and managed in-app advertising keeps attracting the interest of advertisers and brands.

Along with the growing army of apps users, advertisers’ interest and willingness to invest into in-app ads keep increasing, too. A study conducted by Forrester found that 70 percent of advertisers and agencies spending at least $1 million every month on digital advertising are going to increase their in-app ad budgets in the following 12 months.

What’s so attractive in placing ads in the application? First, in-app ads is a great solution to address various goals: increase conversions, user retention and engagement, brand awareness, and drive overall revenue generation.

Plus in-app ad fits nearly every vertical, from social media, news and entertainment apps, to shopping, education, fitness, healthcare, banking, messaging apps, games, and beyond.

Advertising in games

Since gaming apps are among the most popular apps in terms of audience amount and time spent, these formats are worth mentioning separately from general in-app ads.

Game Ads

There can be various types of mobile advertising: rewarded video, offerwall, and interstitial ads.

Rewarded video ads intend rewards of benefits to a user for watching the ad, offerwall may contain lists of items a user can pick in exchange for receiving in an in-app reward. As for interstitials, we’ll touch upon this format later in the article.

These formats are great for promoting special offers, new arrivals, upcoming events, and more. Game ads work for a wide range of verticals: sports, beauty, ecommerce, beverages, even real estate companies, and so much more brands can leverage game ads. The main point here is relevance to the audience, context of the game, and right ad placement.

Generally, this type of ads brings the best out of in-app ecosystem: the interactivity, engagement, and memorable user experience.

Pros:

  • High interactivity
  • Cost-effective
  • Universally supported

Playable Ads

This format represents an interactive type of ads that give users an opportunity to try out the demo of an app or game before installing it.

All interaction takes place in the ad unit directly. The best part is that users like these mini-games because of it’s pleasant mobile phone advertising experience and full involvement. Playable ads typically last from 15 seconds to minute.

Pros:

  • Interactivity
  • High conversions
  • Users engagement and retention

Did you know that ads in games can be seamless and truly immersive?
Learn more – request a demo of game ads inventory: tsichko@admixer.com

In terms of interactivity and elements that encourage viewers to engage with the content, there are standard mobile display advertising and mobile rich media ads.

Standard mobile ad formats

Mobile banner ads

Mobile banner advertising is the most common format due to its simplicity and possibility to yield higher CPMs thoughtful placement. Mobile ad banners are displayed in static ad units often placed at the top or bottom of the screen of the device.

Mobile banner ad sizes may vary, but the most standard banner sizes are 320×480, 300×250 and 320×50 for smartphones and 728×90, 768×1024 and 300×600 mobile ad units for tablets.

One of the most popular banner sizes is 320×50 mobile ad. Its success is due to its low price for advertisers. Big brands can leverage its minimal space for mobile ad campaign focused on increasing of brand awareness, while mid-size and small brands still can use this banner size to put the essential information about their offer. Plus it provides great user experience, as a mobile banner is non-intrusive and doesn’t interrupt user from the content.

Mobile ad banners design requires a careful balance between eye-catching and bringing too distracting experience. Best mobile banner ads should highlight key features or provide an offer with a clear and compelling call to action without too much text though.

Some interesting findings on mobile banner advertising by InMobi: on Android, the highest banner ads conversion relates to lifestyle content (2.02%); on iOS, banner ads works best for classified content (2.7%).

When is it a good idea to leverage this ads type? If you want to increase your brand visibility for a comfortable price among people who are your potential consumers, then mobile banner ads can be a reasonable investment.

Pros:

  • Available on all screens
  • Available at low price
  • Fast and easy to deploy
  • Non-obtrusive for user experience

Native Ads

Native advertising on mobile appears in different sizes and forms. As it comes from the name, native ads are user-centric and organically fit into the context of the place where it appears. Accordingly, this format is perceived as relevant useful information in the flow that increases the chances for the ad to be clicked on.

Native ad imitates the appearance of the contextual environment, so its sizing might also be inherited, but it can be harder accessing the demand, so it might be better to try out 320×480, 300×400 or other typical sizes.

To bring great user experience and look seamless, the ads can come as an icon, feed or in-stream content. Here’s when it’s a good idea to use each of formats:

  • Icon ads that can be easily displayed in apps with a multi-tile layout, such as news and entertainment
  • Feed ads blend well with user-generated content in a chat list.
  • Rich in-stream ads mimic the app’s content feed – ideal for mobile ad campaigns in social networking apps.

This format is similar to banner ads, but it doesn’t take up some fixed screen space or the full display and it’s less of an eyesore and non-disruptive because of its”native” look and feel.

With this type, ads will appear contextually appropriate, for example displaying the ad of cosmetics placed in the middle of an article on a beauty blog. This seamless placement makes native advertising highly effective resulting in impressive CTR.

Native advertising presents a unique opportunity to share your brand story. The combination of visual, headline, and description allows advertisers to state their message clearly and convincingly, and give extra information on the benefits, values, and story behind the product or service.

Pros:

  • Unobtrusive and contextually appropriate
  • Higher CTR
  • Better ad engagement rate
  • Advanced user experience

Mobile Video Ads

This format is represented by pre-, mid- or post-roll videos seamlessly appearing in accordant place of the video. It’s supposed to be 320×480 or 480×320 sizes for smartphone and 768×1024 or 1024×768 for tablets. Also, 320×250 sizing is acceptable for outstream videos.

A typical video ad runs 15- or 30-second when user tap to play. With the growing popularity of shooting vertical video (mainly for social media), video ads also evolved to both horizontal and vertical options.

Accurate placement of mobile video ads can boost the high engagement of the audience. Specifically, placing it at a natural break in the users’ app journey is a good practice. Also, advertisers should think creatively when introducing a video to the users, as an attractive preview screen encourages users to play the video. To minimize the risk of frustrating the users, it’s a common practice to serve autoplay video with muted sound letting users turn it on and off.

According to numerous perspectives, mobile video play rates are higher on in-app (14.0%) compared to mobile web (8.3%).

Mobile video ads are the best way to engage your audience and ensure your brand’s presence at the point of purchase. This ad type works great when appearing on native environments and is similar to all the other content in terms of format and style, like on social and regular media. Mobile video ads fit nearly any purpose – from promoting product or service to telling a brand story.

Pros:

  • Users percept video ads good
  • Focuses attention
  • Good for advertisers

Mobile Rich Media Ads

Mobile rich media ad formats can be represented by videos, GIFs, audio and other content leading the user to interact with the ad inside the mobile ad units without transitions to other pages or sections.

They can have numerous animated effects like expanding, unfolding, parallax, floating, and more – or stimulate user’s actions, for instance, “scratch”, swipe or shake the image on the screen to thereby boosting the conversion.

Looking for more mobile rich media ads?
Check creative formats, available in Admixer Ad Gallery.

As rich media ads are designed to catch the eye and engage, this may also pose an intrusive threat. Therefore, it is crucial to make sure that creative doesn’t go overboard.

On the other hand, according to IAB survey, interactive banners are 25% more likely to recall an ad than those exposed to static banners.

Pros:

  • Interactive and eye-catching
  • A simple process of implementing
  • Engaging user
  • Opportunity to measure the number of times users view the ad content

Here’s a sneak peek of several most engaging creative ad formats.

Interstitial ads

Mobile interstitial ad is a full screen advertisement that can be interactive and is displayed at the transition points like loading or closing the app, between game levels, while pausing or when the user is trying to switch the section in the app.

The most common sizes of interstitials are 320*480 and 480*320 for smartphones and 1024*768 and 768*1024 for tablets.

Interstitial mobile ads are adopted straight from the web and fit mobile devices perfectly. With this format, advertisers win user’s undivided attention and don’t have to worry about wrong click-throughs, as ads appear in between pages only without interrupting the user.

The interstitial mobile ads allow advertisers to create mobile ad campaigns fueled with beautiful and engaging content with high-quality visual and compelling copy. This can reduce the disruption factor for users. However, this type of ads needs to be managed properly in order to avoid the excessive frequency of views.

Normally, interstitial ad requires user action like to click a button to close the ad or swipe to navigate to the desired content. So when it comes to picking the right place and moment to place the interstitial ads, advertisers should pick carefully. For instance, when used in games, it’s better to put interstitial mobile ads within games with levels. Such a break is pretty naturally, thus showing ads won’t deliver any obtrusive experience for users.

As for use cases, interstitial ad is most attractive format for brand advertisers from nearly any domain.

Talking about the performance of this ads format, it has 2-3x higher CTR compared to banner ads (InMobi).

Pros:

  • Offering more ad space for a broader message
  • Visually compelling and memorable
  • High impressions and CTR
  • Interactive

Mobile Swipe Ads

Mobile Swipe is hugely adaptable and can be used in many ways like highlighting a product, demonstrating its usage or performing a product tour. Using habitual interaction with mobile device – swiping – this format invites users to swipe through the images, each of which goes as a single ad unit and with a link to its own landing page.

Pros:

  • Fits perfectly for online shopping platforms and ecommerce
  • Engage the audience

Scratch Banner Ads

Similarly to lottery tickets where you needed to scratch the shiny upper layer with a coin to reveal a prize, mobile scratch banner ad engages users to do that digitally. Using a finger a user “scratches” the banner on the mobile screen and reveals the image beneath.

Pros:

  • Works perfectly for special offers and discounts
  • Interactive and engaging
  • Entertaining

Mobile Cube Ads

Being one of the most popular ad formats, mobile cube allows advertisers to showcase up to six images and a video on its six sides. A cube can spin automatically or by swiping, engaging users to interact with one of the ad messages.

Pros:

  • Encourages audience to interact with the ads
  • Catchy yet unobtrusive

What’s next?

There are lots of types and formats of mobile ads and new ones appear from the nature of the case. Whenever you are ready to give a try with ad formats to drive your mobile ad campaign – contact Irina Kostiuk, Business Development Executive: ikostyuk@admixer.com.

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