Types of online advertising are rapidly changing. At the dawn of advertising, good click-through-rate might be a matter of placing a few banner ads on the landing pages while now advertisers have to compete for user attention.

Five types of online advertising performing best in 2020:

  • Native advertising
  • Video ads
  • Display ads
  • Full-screen interstitials
  • Expandable ads

Online media now define creative formats and mediums where display ads must be served. “Windows 95” era might be a cool time but today advertisers and publishers have completely different game rules to adapt to in order to make online advertising work.

If you can’t choose between types of digital ads for your ad campaign, the first thing on your mind will probably be their cost per click or cost mile. So, you will be right, but only partly, because the good creative also resonates to the users, it’s memorable and brings conversions well when the traffic comes from the relevant landing pages.

Types of web ads winning the world in 2020

The effectiveness of online advertising may depend on different things. Certain forms of online advertising showed impeccable efficiency in 2018-20 years because of the factors we will describe below in detail.

Ad types we've mentioned earlier produced such CTRs in 2020: native advertising - a leader among leaders that typically generates 10.4% CTR, the full-screen interstitial is following with 5-7%, closing the list are video ads and expandable 1.2% formats. Together these ad types qualify for 70% of ad spend taking place in 2017. When it comes to the average CTR across display ads, it was only as high as 0.1%. Nevertheless, it proved to be one of the most cost-efficient variant advertisers are ready to spend their budget on.


The most common misconception is - all advertisers want to serve the users large creatives that are placed at the top of a web page or occupy the whole screen. Indeed, sometimes creatives show the best results at the very bottom of the page or in the middle.

For instance, when the creative is located under an informative article that facilitates decision-making and so on. Smaller ad units, in their turn, can deliver much better results due to the fact, that they are non-intrusive, and contain engaging and interesting content. As users massively shifted from their personal computers to smartphones, mobile ecosystem has become the most fruitful ground for advertisers who strive to achieve higher ROI using affordable small and medium ad formats. In the in-app ecosystem, most popular ad resolutions are considered to be 300*250, 300*50, 320*50, and 728*90.

Native kinds of online ads

native online ads

Native forms of online advertising are those ad units that blend with the rest of the content on the landing pages, imitating their interface, design, and functions.

Native types of digital advertising appeared not a long time ago when it turned out that banners are no longer functional because of their aggressive approach, flashy creatives that distort the website’s interface, and user banner blindness.

The most common native ads are sponsored posts, recommended and in-feed content; they are served equally good on the mobiles and desktop. Native ads also pop up in the search engine results at the top marked as “ad” at the snippet.

Unlike other forms of internet advertising, native ads are viewed 53% more and shared in 32% of cases. They have a high engagement rate because such ad types bring value to the users providing them with useful and relevant content.

In order to make such ad effective advertiser should:

  • Mark sponsored material with “ad” tag
  • Make the material interesting and useful
  • Add the share functions to the creative

Video types of web advertising

video ad sizesVideo types of ads generally work 14% better in applications and 8% better on mobiles in comparison to desktop. On average, mobile video ads gather more shares and achieve better completion rates than those on desktop. For instance, rewarded video ads that function only in apps provide users with incentives for ad watching (in-game bonuses, items, etc.). In order to get the reward, users watch video ads instead of skipping them, which results in much greater completion and effectiveness style="float: left; max-width: 325px; margin-right: 10px;"

Apart from rewarded ads, there are other popular mobile and in-app ad units like natives and interstitials. 

Today video online advertising formats are not limited by the ads on Youtube. Advertisers can easily use freshly-baked interactive creatives and channel them to particular audience groups through programmatic advertising methods.

When it comes to the most popular video ad sizes, it's worth to point out, that they will depend on the width of the video player installed on the publisher's website. As a rule, small and medium video sizes (measured in pixels) don't irritate the view. This translates into better user experience and explains why they are usually preferred over large ones. 

Video-ads significantly contribute to seamless user experience on the publisher’s website and to the effectiveness of advertising campaigns. Here are the few tips to make them convert better:

  • The right duration (between 15 and 30 seconds)
  • Bright, engaging plot incentive
  • Vivid CTA

Display examples of digital ads

display-adsDigital ads that belong to the display incorporate an extensive pool of creatives: those can be video, textual, including pop-ups, flash banners, animated, and static images.

In the majority of cases, advertisers chose banner ads because of their cost-efficiency and ease of use, they are supported on many platforms, mobile or desktop and in different resolutions.

Different online ads that belong to display kind usually generate relevant traffic as they are supported by the variety of ad platforms that have targeting functions and retargeting campaigns.

The most popular display ad formats for desktop/mobile web are considered to be 300*250, 728*90, 160*600, 336*280, and 300*600

Display ads can improve brand recognition, raise awareness of the product and collect more leads during an advertising campaign. The main basis of serving display ads is choosing the right ad platform with targeting and equipping display creative with such elements:

  • Captivating offer
  • Selling content
  • Catchy design

Interstitial types of web ads

Interstitial types of online display advertising commonly used on the mobile platform and in applications as banners and videos.

Being among the best types of online advertising for a mobile platform, interstitial videos usually cover the whole user screen in-between game intervals, at the beginning of the app loading or the webpage loading.

After the banner ads are shown on the screen, their time expires and they disappear. It is important to let the user the option to click on the ad immediately or close it right away.

The fact that banner ads and videos usually appear at the logical interruptions makes interstitials less aggressive but, nevertheless, immersive and memorable. Interstitials on average achieve 70% higher CTR than simple banners.

Their most popular sizes are 1024*768 px for desktop and tablet. The most popular smartphone interstitial resolution is 320*480 pixels.

Interstitial-based types of online advertising campaigns will demand more advanced ad platforms with a higher capacity as a creative may have greater weight. It is recommended to serve interstitial ads programmatically and configure the asynchronous creative loading inside the app’s settings. What’s also important:

  • Place the ads in the apps with relevant subject
  • The app has essential intervals
  • Don’t overstuff app with ads (tune the frequency)

Expandable online ads

expandable ads

What are the best online ads that work best against banner blindness syndrome? Right, there’s no match to expandable online ads when the greater visibility should be achieved.

Expandable types of online ads display banners, typically appear in-app or in mobiles when they’re triggered by the user’s behavior such as mouse hover, click or tap at the adjacent area or page scroll.

Expandable banner ads may grow in size and reach much larger dimensions when the user activates them. Such form of online advertising is very memorable, interactive, and engaging, according to IAB their engagement rate is 25% higher than average.

Expandable online ads, however, can be highly annoying for users, that’s why specialists recommend serving them through the ad platforms which can eliminate the frequency cap in the campaign settings. It’s also important to:

  • Set measurement for interaction and expansion rates
  • Make sure creative shuts with hover or click-off
  • Set the right timing for creative (around 5-10 sec.)

All types of online advertising: launching

Different forms of online display advertising demand different approaches. The thing is, programmatic today can serve the most effective kinds of online advertising automatically, empowered with RTB protocol.

Advertisers pay for using a self-serve DSP platform that connects them to the publishers who use holistic SSP from their side to access the demand side. Each of the parties uses dashboards that allow automating deals, accepting only those that meet their preferences.

Advertisers choose what sorts of online advertising to serve, where and how to target, who should be viewing the ad (target demographics according to geolocation, IP, browser, etc.), and configures the budget spending options.

The publisher is also able to choose what varieties of online advertising to accept and serve on the landing pages, their sizes, positions and set the floor price, under which the deals won’t happen.

This way the platform becomes the tool that matches the right inventory to the right online ads helps to gain control over the placements and audiences.

If it is a long-term marketing strategy, it will most definitely require using different variants of online advertising, each added gradually for the new campaign or user segment. Some online ads will be added and others will be cut out as you test them, obtain the stats and identify the most optimal creative options for you.

Manage all types of online ads in one dashboard! Join SmartyAds platform!

Written by
Irina Kovalenko, CMO of SmartyAds
July 2018