Mobile ads: which format is best for you?

Every new media format mimics its predecessor. The first movies were basically theatre plays on film. The first websites looked like newspapers.

It takes time for people to break out of the old thinking and use the new channels to their full potential.

So now, with movies, instead of one camera filming people talking round a table, we have cinematic achievements such as, er, Transformers 4: Age of Extinction.

The same process of evolution is coming to mobile advertising. Why were the first mobile website ads rectangular banners? Partly because they were modeled on newspaper ads.

Banner ads remain highly visible, but now there are many more formats to choose from. This makes perfect sense. After all, today we live in a world of mobile apps, and the mobile handset is more than just a static blank screen. Ads should therefore take advantage of the many features of the phone: GPS, accelerometer, video and audio, vibrate etc.

Here is a simplified round up of the main mobile ad options.

Standard banner ads

300×50 pixel ads may be unexciting. But they do have benefits. They are familiar and they do not interrupt the user experience. You can produce and deploy them quickly.

After call ads

These are targeted ads displayed at the end of a call. The biggest benefit of this form of advertising is that this method generates more impressions than other advertising formats. On average after call ads generate five extra impressions per user per day. That means an additional 150,000 impressions per month for every 1,000 users.  After call advertising is a very subtle way to show ads which doesn’t compromise the user experience.


These are full-screen ads that cover the whole interface of the host app. They’re best used during a natural pause in the app flow. Most interstitials give users the option to close them. This ad format allows for a clearer call-to-action, and more creative content like video, sliders, maps and so on.


An expandable is a bit of banner and a bit of interstitial – a banner that grows bigger when tapped.


These ads force a user to scroll through an ad that appears on top of content. They sometimes scroll at a different speed to the main content and can hover at the top.

Video ads

Since the arrival of 4G and retina screens, video has become a viable option for mobile. Naturally, the impact of video ads is greater than static banners. But advertisers still have to be careful. They should be mindful of the data consumption they are ‘forcing’ on users. They should also think twice about using audio in autoplay videos. Today, there are many flavors video ads around including 360 video, rewarded video and native video.

Native ads

Native ads are designed to look like the medium they sit inside. They are nothing new. A TV commercial is a native ad; it uses the style and vocabulary of TV to impart its message. In mobile, native ads come in various forms – the ads that Facebook plants in people’s user feeds, for example. Studies show that native ads are very effective, and can yield 4x more click-throughs than ‘regular’ formats.

Augmented reality ads

Here, users can click on graphics that are overlaid on the screen when a user points the camera at a real-world object. Companies like Blippar have tried to popularize this format for years. But lately both Apple and Google have launched standardized SDKs to support the tech, so maybe AR is now ready for the big time.

Clearly, there’s no single best option for mobile advertising. Banners work well for simple product awareness where no click is required. They’re cheap and easy to implement. Conversely, video ads attract much more engagement but carry the danger of eating up user’s data allowances and interrupting their app experience.

Thanks to tech improvements, the consensus around what makes a good or bad ad is always changing.

Recently, the industry body IAB (Internet Advertising Bureau) unveiled its new ad unit portfolio. It even includes guidance on emoji ads!

Meanwhile, Google also has plenty of advice about Android advertising on its developer site.

Of course, we are deeply interested in the evolution of the space. Advertising is a key to the commercial success of our developer partners. That’s why we will be at the Mobile Monetization Summit Madrid on November 14th and 15th. If you’re around, drop by and say hello.