School of Ad Tech Part 3: Hit Advertising Success with the Right Mobile Ad Format

Welcome to the third installment in our new series “School of Ad Tech”, where we demystify the basics of ad tech for our readers. In the previous editions of this series, we’ve acquainted our readers with the most important ad tech acronyms, and explained why the concept of LTV is an important one for app marketers.

In this post, we’ll break down the various ad formats to help app marketers decide which works best for their app marketing goals.

Until recently, mobile marketers treated mobile advertising in the same manner as desktop website advertising. Static banners that were so typical of desktop ads were repurposed for mobile, not realizing that a mobile environment behaves much differently from desktop. The static banner ads have now evolved into more dynamic and interactive formats to engage users on mobile. The mobile environment is different from desktop web in not only in the way users consume mobile but also in the vertical space that tends to have one sections on top of another for an entire page. Smaller screens also mean fewer ads per page.

For these reasons, mobile marketers must understand the new platform and learn how to leverage various mobile ad formats for success. Over the last few years, mobile advertising has evolved into more dynamic and interactive formats. Different ad formats offer different end results. Which ad format is right for a mobile campaign depends on a variety of factors that mobile app marketers must ask themselves before starting a campaign. While there is no general rule of the thumb, the primary question that advertisers must ask themselves is to recognize their campaign goal and the target audience. The choice of ad format also depends on the type of advertising campaign, i.e. performance or branding campaign.

We’ve put together a primer on the most common ad formats to help app marketers understand the different options that they can experiment with for different campaign needs:


What: This is one of the most common ad formats that everyone recognizes from the time of desktop web advertising. Traditionally, banner ads were limited to static images or text, and evolved to add an animated element. In mobile advertising, banner ads are typically static or animated and appear either at the top or bottom of the screen.

Pros: Banner ads on mobile have a wide reach and are typically supported by almost every publisher at low costs. For small businesses, banner ads are a quick solution to get some customer outreach and brand awareness.

Cons: Banner ads suffer from “banner blindness” — that happens when users consciously or subconsciously develop an ignorance to banner ads. This means that such ads on mobile have typically low click-through-rates and engagement, leading to poor conversions.


What: Interstitial ads are designed to be placed between content at an app’s transition point. This may be between activities, levels of a game etc. Interstitials are rich and often interactive in their nature and vary in size, although the most popular size is 320×480 pixels. The large size offers the space for more effective storytelling, thereby making the ads more compelling and attractive.

Pros: Being interactive in nature, interstitials offer higher engagement. Unlike banner ads, there are less chances of an accidental click.

Cons: Advertisers must be careful about placement of interstitial ads so that they follow the natural transition and flow of the app for user engagement, otherwise users may perceive these ads to be obstructive. For effective engagement advertisers must also think about at what frequency these interstitials appear within the app. Don’t force your users to click on the by preventing them to complete a desired action within the app. If, for instance, an ad appears after every level of the game, it may drive users away.


What: Mobile video advertising is growing three times as fast as spending on desktop video and is on an upward rise. Combined with the power of sight, sound and motion, mobile video ads occur within the app and are usually around 15-30 seconds. Mobile video ads have further distinction between skippable, non-skippable, pre-roll, and in-roll. , such as where users watch the short video clip to gain some credit within the game, are also gaining popularity.

Pros: Video ads convert better as they offer higher engagement. According to a report, mobile video ad campaign have an average CTR of around 13%, as compared to the same campaign on desktop which has a CTR of 5%. This is particularly of advantage to gaming companies and performance-focused campaigns.

Cons: Long video ads that do not have a skip button can annoy users and often be perceived as intruding, but they offer over 90% completion rate. On the other hand, skippable video ads, which enable the user to skip an ad, offer better user experience but low completion rates.

Native Ads

What: Mobile native ads are a kind of format of advertising that blend seamlessly within the content of the app in a form and function that is similar to the app’s surroundings. Native ads can be understood as the sponsored content or advertorials on web pages. Such ads can be in the form of texts or links embedded within the content of the app. On social media channels such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, native ads are very popular as they seamlessly integrate with the user’s feed. Studies also claim that native social advertising will account for around 40% of social media ad spend by 2017.

Pros: By naturally blending in with the user experience, native ads look like a part of the app, thereby are not disruptive to a user engaging with the app as compared to other formats. According to a study, 25% more consumers look at native ad placements more than traditional banner ads.

Cons: Native advertising perform the best when they are highly tailored for each publisher. This means a lot of work goes into the creatives and, often, individual ads need to be created for each publisher platform. There is also the issue of whether native ads in general deceive the audiences and lead them to click on these accidentally.

Rich Media

What: Mobile advertising formats have evolved to be more advanced and this is where rich media formats come into play. Rich media ads are type of mobile ads with advanced features such as VFX, video, audio etc. that encourage viewers to interact with the ad.

Pros: Rich media ads offer more engagement as audiences tend to be attracted by the audio-visual elements. Allowing for a great playground for effective storytelling, rich media ads lead to higher recall value and, thus, can be a preferred formats for brand campaigns.

Cons: Because of their sophisticated creatives, rich media ads are not only expensive to produce but also require good bandwidth speeds for users to experience the content.

“Help, Which Ad Format Do I Choose?”

Sorry, advertisers, but there’s no one answer to that question! While understanding the pros and cons of each format will equip advertisers with a better knowledge of ad formats, testing different ad formats for a campaign is one way to see which ad formats bring the most value. Advertisers must know and understand their goals to see which ad format brings them the most value for their ad spend. By getting insights into the target audience, advertisers can ensure that the ad campaigns bring high relevance and are most likely to be accepted by the users.