Advertising bridges consumers and brands, and modern technologies make it possible in a cost-effective and less time-consuming way. Advertisers test various tactics, platforms, and formats to make their interactions through mobile ad formats more effective. So, the approaches to mobile rich media ads change now and then.
This constant pursuit of better options for ad campaign optimization factors into experiments with different types of ads, formats, and sizes. That leads to increased investments in digital advertising. In 2023, ad spending is expected to reach $509 billion, up 6% from $481 billion last year.
What mobile ad formats, types, and sizes are advertisers allocating their ad budgets to nowadays?
The shift in advertisers' choices of mobile ad formats over the years
The first mobile in-app advertising ad unit was delivered in 2009. In a few years, it superseded the other known ad formats and snatched over income on the mobile market.
As time passed, mobiles became customary for users and mobile advertising faced massive changes because users' behavior altered drastically.
With over 90% of Facebook's ad profits coming from mobile platforms, it's hard to understate the importance of a correctly tuned and robust strategy for mobile ads.
The reality is trickier. No universal, standard, or magic mobile advertising format works perfectly on all types of platforms or devices. In fact, different sources may suggest various specifications and placements.
For instance, while some experts suggest that the best mobile banner ads should be 300*250, the IAB suggests 300*50 and 320*50 (also known as the mobile leaderboard for fixed-size mobile banner ads).
However, nothing will give a better impression on ad unit performance than particular in-app or mobile web ad type testing, but we can give it a good starting point.
Instead of installing new applications and surfing the web, user attention is now focused on fewer apps with all necessary functions built in.
Understanding that developers moved to in-app ad surroundings that suggested using such attractive mobile advertising formats as social, display advertising, and other ads challenged advertisers to search for typical video ad formats and types to benefit from a mobile marketing campaign.
When we talk about standard IAB sizes, there's no need to dig deep into analytics to notice that large mobile banner ad sizes have become prevalent within the past few years.
Let's have a look at the best mobile ad formats and best mobile ad sizes that lead the race in the industry and their strengths and weaknesses for mobile ad campaigns.
Mobile video ads
According to HubSpot, video content is at the top of the list of high-performing ad formats, as more than half of users prefer video to other ad formats. That is why 92% of marketers continue to include this ad format in their marketing strategy year over year.
Nevertheless, it's important to understand that not all mobile video ad sizes perform equally well. Common mobile display ad sizes featured in the picture above generate better engagement and enhance average eCPM if the video duration is between 15 to 30 seconds — sufficient time for memorizing the ad without causing user irritation.
The rewarded video ads are considered one of the most popular forms of video marketing. These ads incline users to watch full-screen videos commonly found in mobile games. Advertisers opt for this format as it allows for generating about 46% of revenue.
Pros and cons of video ads for advertisers
Users enjoy video ad content, and video ad formats offer one of the highest eCPMs in the mobile ad category. Moreover, mobile video ads can grab users' attention, increasing the chance that an ad is seen and making your product visible to a wide audience. As a well-yield-generating mobile ad format, video ads should be captivating, emotionally provoking, and of high quality to bring the best result.
Mobile banner ads
Mobile banner ads are an increasingly popular advertising format. The form of banner ads ranges from animated to static ad units popping up on the user's screen while they use an app or a mobile website.
The banner ads emerge on different spots around the screen of mobile devices, and this mobile ad unit is traditionally the simplest one in terms of implementation.
Most companies and brands use mobile banner ads because they are relatively cheap and effective when ad campaigns aim to raise brand awareness and boost conversions. The average CPMs for mobile banner advertising range between $0.50 and $1.20, making mobile ad banners profitable due to their decent viewability rate.
89% of respondents made a purchase after watching a video on mobile web or in-app.
The best mobile banner ad sizes are 320*50, 300*50 for smartphones, and 728*90, 300*250 for tablets. However, it's important to choose proper sizes and experiment with placement to avoid the so-called banner blindness effect caused by the massive popularity of standard banner ads.
Pros and cons of banner ads for advertisers
Banner ads are lightweight and simple and don't take too much time when emerging on the mobile web or in-app interface. At the same time, banner ads may fall off the radar as many companies now can afford more eye-catching, sophisticated types of mobile ads to attract more users indulged with a variety of creatives.
Mobile interstitial ads
Interstitial ads are widely used in digital advertising. Interstitial ads spring up on mobile web pages but are most common in apps and gaming worlds. Because of their high impression rate, interstitial ads lead to interaction with an ad, which means a wide reach and more conversions.
Interstitial ads offer different dimensions that build an immersive user experience thanks to the new mobile display ad sizes expanding on the whole user screen. These mobile ads pop up when the person opens an app, navigates it, or switches among the pages or modes.
Text, graphics, and rich media creatives are all examples of interstitial units. They come in the form of text, graphics, video, rich media, or playable ads. And they are often resistant to ad blockers on mobile devices, making them more productive in generating conversions.
Because interstitial mobile units have the propensity to compromise user experience, they should be carefully built into the app to prevent hampering user flow. According to Google, they should be "displayed at natural moments in an app's flow, such as when switching between tasks or between stages in a mobile game".
Mobile interstitial ad sizes are usually 320*480 or 1024*768 pixels. With this, interstitial ads cover the user's full screen, catching attention at best. They can, however, result in a non-intrusive advertising strategy if executed clumsily. Ensure that the ad placement and timing do not obstruct user flow.
Pros and cons of interstitial ads for advertisers
A standard interstitial ad can deliver an immersive ad to the end user, so advertisers can be sure that users will see the ad. On the flip side, interstitials can cause more irritation among users and thus have a negative impact on mobile ad campaigns.
Native ads are easily integrated display advertising ad units. This type of ad belongs to the list of formats advertisers often use to engage with their target audiences. They don't heavily affect the user's comfort because they are harmonized with the rest of the textual or video content.
Furthermore, this form of advertisement is highly related to the content on a website, blog, or app. As a result, your viewers will be more comfortable viewing published ads because they are interested in them.
According to the data, users are 25% more inclined to engage with native marketing content than a banner ad.
This ad format is often called the best mobile ad format due to its proven efficiency in generating 53% more views than a banner ad. In fact, a third of users (32%) report being ready to share the native marketing content with friends or relatives because those mobile advertising formats are known to be often confused with the actual website content. Thus, native is a very popular mobile ad format.
A study observed that native marketing content has a higher click-through rate than a traditional ad, which means that advertisers gain more conversions, clicks, views, or other activities if they choose an inventory in line with their niche.
Pros and cons of native ads for advertisers
Mobile native advertising mimics the content and design of the app or website where it appears. So, on the one hand, native ads are more engaging and show better interaction with website or app users.
However, the downside of native advertising lies in the fact that it can be misleading for potential customers (if not tagged properly) and may also factor in a turn-off for people, causing a decrease in traffic.
Unlike many other simple formats, native ads require outstanding design to blend with the surrounding content.
Mobile rich media ads
A rich media ad is a combination of several interactive elements designed to make an ad responsive. Rich media incorporates a variety of beautiful and engaging content types, such as images, videos, graphics, animations, etc. They're made to stimulate user action.
Unlike the typical banner ad, rich media content is not static and adapts to different mobile screen sizes. Advertisers can choose a placement for this ad format across a webpage and expand, minimize, and resize it.
Rich media advertising formats exist within the app ecosystem and on website versions adapted for a mobile screen. These ads have a fluid design that adapts to the user's screen and mobile device motions, enabling advertisers to reach broader audiences.
Standard and drop-down rich media mobile ad units are considered the most popular among advertisers. However, different formats of rich media ads are designed to achieve different purposes.
A study mentions that rich media advertising increases user interaction, improves brand recall, and enhances message recall. This elicits impression growth and increases ad revenue from your display advertising campaigns.
Pros and cons of rich media ads for advertisers
With the help of expandable ads, and because they are not static banners, it is easy to overcome banner blindness syndrome. Still, avoiding user frustration while using expandable rich media ads is also important. Besides, expandable ad units can be heavy in size, which can cause latencies and poor page load times that affect the user experience unless the unit weight is optimized.
Popular mobile ad sizes
The popularity of ad sizes can change with time and is often influenced by user preference and popular screen sizes at a particular time. However, standard banner ads have remained the same for years.
As of now, the following mobile ad sizes engage users the best.
The ad slot of 300*250 pixels is also one of the best mobile ad sizes. This ad size is called a medium rectangle, and many advertisers create their mobile ad campaigns with this size in mind. Medium rectangles allow advertisers to enhance their ad campaigns.
This ad type is similar to the 300*250 rectangle size with little difference. The similarities between both mobile ad sizes make them popular among advertisers.
Google recognizes the 320*100 size as one of the most popular banner sizes. It is often referred to as a large mobile banner and is served by the Google display network. It is tailored to fit the dimensions of most devices. While the large mobile banner is efficient, placing your ads on the spot with other large mobile banners may frustrate users.
320*50 (mobile leaderboard)
The 320*50, or the mobile leaderboard, has been one of the best ad sizes for years. Like the 320*100 banner, a mobile leaderboard is also designed to suit the screen size of most mobile devices. This ad size helps to reduce the possibility of intrusive advertising.
Expandable ads have become more popular in recent times. Plus, they are more user-friendly and less intrusive. The 320*480 resolution supports expandable ads perfectly and suits most devices. They also enhance rich media ad results.
Learn more about new opportunities with SmartyAds mobile ad formats.
Optimization recommendations for advertisers
In trying to increase mobile ad revenue, advertisers should improve their approaches and avoid some common mistakes. One negative impression made through the ad may cross out all the endeavors to hit the customers' hearts.
What dos and don'ts should advertisers follow to achieve their marketing goals?
Improve the quality of ad creative
Be concerned about the quality of ad creatives and the messages they convey. Users are more likely to engage with high-quality ad media that relates to their values and needs.
That is why advertisers should avoid excessively intense colors, low-quality visuals, and creatives overloaded with text and messages that don't align with the company's vision and norms.
When telling your audience about the product and its features, keep messages short and emotionally appealing while ensuring your visuals are eye-catching. Ad media that isn't up to these factors has a significant negative impact on the brand reputation and desired result.
Avoid generic ads
Give a personal touch to your mobile web ads, in-app ads, or other types of advertising you display to the audience. Address directly to your consumers and make them feel special. As a result, you can boost engagement because personalization converts better than non-specific video ads or banners.
In other words, prepare ad creatives for different user segments to reach out to these people and meet their needs. With programmatic advertising opportunities, you can successfully deliver each creative to the right audience by narrowly targeting your consumers based on multiple factors, including gender, location, interests, etc.
Ward off long video ads
Therefore, opt for short videos. Video ads lasting from 3 to 6 seconds are more likely to be watched, causing no bad impact on users.
Place your ads on trusted platforms
The survey states that in 2022, users spent 6.6 seconds with a mobile ad when it covered 80 percent of the screen. The time spent decreases with the lower percent of the screen cover.
When we take into account the first half of 2023, this time has hardly changed. Still, this data clearly shows that the proper ad format and the quality of ad inventory influence the audience reach and viewability of your ads.
Whether you work directly with publishers or via ad networks, take a look at the platform's performance and the audience. So you'll get a comprehensive picture of the feasible result for your mobile ad campaign.
Adopt data analysis
Do not place ads randomly and rely only on other's experiences. Test, analyze, draw conclusions, and experiment with each ad format.
If experts say, for example, that video ads or interstitial mobile ads perform better than mobile interstitial ads or rewarded video ads, it doesn't mean that it will work the same way for your product.
You should conduct research and rely on credible data. Find tools and solutions that give you this analysis.
Embrace A/B testing
A/B testing is a method of comparing two options to find out which works better. It would be best to compare various ad placements and formats and how users react to them. This way, you will know which ad types have the most positive ad impressions on an ad campaign.
To sum up
A few years ago, mobile ads were only displayed in banner format. Today, there are multiple display formats. In the future, mobile advertising will only become more creative and innovative. More formats will emerge as the industry advances, powered by cutting-edge solutions.
That's why advertisers should spot new display trends and adapt them to their marketing goals. While doing this, it is crucial to consider what works best for your audience so you don't scare them away.
Studying your audience's behavioral patterns and preferences while interacting with your creative across applications or websites will hint at the right ad display formats.
The truth is, there is no specific best, but rather a range of high-performing mobile ad sizes to perfectly fit your metrics and advertising objectives. Video ads, banner ads, interstitials, rich media, and mobile native ad formats are in high demand, so it's time to benefit from them.
Register at SmartyAds DSP to benefit from the technologically powered solution: launch and manage omnichannel campaigns across mobile, display, native, and video ad formats.
What rates help measure the success of mobile ad campaigns with different ad formats?
Click-through rate, engagement metrics, conversion rate, and return on ad spend are used to analyze the performance of various ad formats.
How to ensure that mobile ads are optimized for mobile devices with varying screen sizes and resolutions?
Responsive design principles enable ads to adapt to different screen sizes and resolutions. This ensures that ads function and play off properly across the screens on various mobile devices.
What are the trends in mobile ad formats?
Immersive AR (Augmented Reality) and VR (Virtual Reality) ad experiences and interactive storytelling formats are the latest industry trends. However, trends aren't the most important thing in advertising, but the mobile ad formats that align with specific campaign goals and are able to strike a target audience.
Irina Kovalenko, CMO of SmartyAds