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Everything You Need to Know About Rich Media Ads

what are rich media ads

Ever since the late 90s, the effectiveness of traditional banner ads has been plummeting. As an increasing number of people got exposed to an ever-growing number of banner ads, more and more have become banner blind. Scientists coined this term in 1998. to illustrate the phenomenon that people began consciously or unconsciously ignoring all banner advertisements on websites worldwide. Luckily for advertisers, a solution for this issue exists today, and it came in the form of rich media ads.

This innovative ad format that started gaining traction over the last decade solved many issues that traditional banner advertising suffered from. Rich media ads felt like a breath of fresh air with their interactiveness, highly engaging visuals, and overall better user experience. They were the perfect solution for the bad taste that banner ads left in many peoples’ mouths. 

According to VIEO Design, 83% of consumers agreed that not all ads are bad, just the obnoxious ones. And yes, you have to agree that the old-fashioned online advertising methods like pop-ups and banner ads were obnoxious! 

So what are these rich media ads? What makes them so superior to traditional online advertising? How can they help improve user experience and drive more conversions? These are just some of the questions we’ll address in this extensive guide. So let’s begin with the basics!

What Are Rich Media Ads?

The definition of rich media ads is pretty straightforward — they are online advertisements that use rich media visuals to appeal to users. Rich media formats are things like:

  • Images
  • Animations
  • Video
  • Audio 

These can (and often will) include text too, but it will be mixed in with one of the above highly interactive visuals to stand out in the sea of generic adverts. 

an image illustrating standrad display ad vs rich media ad

The dynamic possibilities of rich media formats allow advertisers to easily catch users’ attention when scrolling down a web page. From movement in the form of animation and videos over attention-grabbing sounds to interactive elements like expanding the advertisement itself, hovering over it, or taking specific actions on it, rich media technology proved to be the perfect choice for revitalizing your advertising endeavors.

After all, what would you prefer to see on a website — a dull, static background brimming with all kinds of irritating banners or a dynamic backdrop that reacts to your on-site movements and actions, bringing the website to life?

We believe the answer is clear!

How Are Rich Media Ads Different From Other Ad Formats?

Rich media ads are quite distinct compared to other online advertising formats and carry plenty of benefits. Here are some of the most notable features of rich media ads that make them stand out:

  • Rich media ads focus on dynamic or expandable visuals, the opposite of standard display ads that focus on static images.
  • Rich media ads can be interactive, which does wonders for user experience. These ads often require users to interact with them before they start playing, giving viewers a choice whether to consume them or not.
  • Rich media ads can be designed in the form of a minigame, requiring users to perform specific actions or press particular buttons to experience them fully. That is what makes rich media ads the perfect choice for in-app mobile ads.
  • Advertisers can use rich media ads on all websites that support regular adverts, as they are compatible with Java, Javascript, and HMTL5.
  • Rich media ads offer marketers extensive performance measuring opportunities as they let businesses keep track of many different parameters. Advertisers will be able to track KPIs like interaction rate & time, display time, dwell & expansion rates, average view time, views, completions, pauses, rewinds, mutes, closes, and custom events.

Rich Media Ad Specs

FeatureRich Media Ad Specs
FormatHTML, .gif, .png, .jpeg, .mp4, .mov
File Size>200 KB 
Use of VideoVideo Supported
InteractivityExpansions, Sounds, Video, Actions
TrackingCan track multiple clickthrough links
CompatibilityJava, Javascript, HTML5
Special FeaturesPolls, Minigames

Why You Should Use Rich Media Ads

Before we begin exploring the different types of rich media ad formats, let’s clearly emphasize the reasons you should use them:

  • They Improve User Experience — User experience is closely related to your ads’ clickthrough rates, and rich media ads excel in that regard. These ads do not interrupt the users’ browsing experience while still being eye-catching enough to compel users to interact with them.
  • They Have Excellent Performance Measurability — Every seasoned marketer knows that data-driven marketing is the most reliable way of promoting a brand. That is why the sheer variety of user behavior and performance tracking metrics advertisers can monitor with rich media ads is invaluable to any data-driven marketer.
  • They Have Higher CTR Than Traditional Banner Ads — As we have already mentioned, banner ads are growingly ineffective nowadays, so it shouldn’t be surprising that rich media ads trump them in CTR. According to Adform, rich media ads sport whopping 267% higher clickthrough rates than banner ads! With such huge numbers at play here, you’d be remiss not to take advantage of them.
  • They Have Higher CPM — Rich media ads have high CPM rates, meaning they’ll bring publishers more ad revenue.

Now that all the benefits of these ads are as clear as day, let’s see what rich media ad formats are there.

Types of Rich Media Ads

Like most aspects of digital advertising, advertisers have plenty of choices between multiple rich media ad formats. There is no single best type out there, as different ads will suit various business needs. That is why your choice will entirely depend on your brand’s budget, means, and goals. Here is a short overview of the three general types of rich media ads, followed by some specific examples to help you decide:

1. In-Page Ads

image illustrating in-page ads

In-page ads appear in-between the contents of a web page or on the page’s sides as various types of banners. These ads don’t distract users from the contents of a web page too much as they usually disappear as users scroll down the page.  

2. Out-Of-Page Ads

image illustrating out-of-page ads

These types of ads aren’t bound to the web page you’re viewing and usually manifest in the form of various pop-ups. These types of rich media ads are the least favored among users as they negatively impact their on-page experience due to pop-ups. We suggest you avoid this format whenever possible.

3. Instream Ads

image illustrating instream ads

This ad format is restricted to video ads and encompasses pre-, mid-, and post-roll video ads. These ads play before, during, or after a video finishes and are among the best advertising options for publishers with a lot of video content. Instream video ads are regarded as better options for UX than their outstream counterparts.

Rich Media Ad Examples

The following examples of rich media ads are just some of the most popular types currently used on the market. Take a look at how professionals use them nowadays and their pros and cons before settling for any.

Banner Ads

image that illustrates banner ads

Didn’t we just condemn banner ads as ineffective? Traditional banner ads, maybe. But rich media technology brings an entirely new dimension to them, making them a feasible choice if not overdone

Here are some useful tips you can follow to implement banner ads into your rich media advertising campaign successfully:

  • Use Animations
  • Make Sure They’re Not Intrusive
  • Don’t Clutter Them
  • Use Them to Build Awareness

Not even rich media can do magic on banner ads, but it can make them useful if done correctly. As you can see from our advice above, the key to success with banner ads is to use them sparingly, not overdo them, and not have high expectations. In other words, rich media banner ads are a decent choice for a supporting advertising method, but not even rich media technology can make them a highly converting traffic source.


  • Cheap
  • Effective at building brand awareness
  • Easy to get started with
  • Available on all devices


  • Can easily clutter a page
  • Ineffective at driving meaningful conversions
  • Banner blindness is a growing issue

Expandable Ads

image that illustrates expandable ads

Expandable ads are a handy rich media ad type that allows users interested in the advertised message to learn more about it without redirecting them to a landing page. This ad type is an excellent choice for marketers who wish to make the most out of a banner-advertising model but want to optimize the user experience. 

There are two key things to keep in mind if you wish to give these types of ads a try:

  • Don’t Overdo Them — Users will likely be OK with an ad or two of this type, but having more of them constantly appearing may frustrate them. Keep in mind that an irritated customer is unlikely to convert!
  • Optimize Them for Mobile Users — These ads can be quite tricky for mobile users as their expansion may negatively impact users’ on-page experience. Once they expand, these ads might take up users’ entire phone screens, distracting them from a page’s contents. So don’t go overboard with their contents!

If you’re still skeptical about the effectiveness of expandable ads, don’t be. According to research by IAB, users exposed to expandable rich media ads were 25% more likely to convert than those exposed to regular banner ads.


  • Can include larger images and even entire videos
  • Excellent user experience since users choose whether to interact with them or not


  • Can be frustrating if overdone
  • Potentially detrimental to UX on mobile devices

Interstitial Ads

image that illustrates interstitial ads

Interstitial ads usually appear as a full-screen pop-up that users need to turn off to access a page’s contents. These ads are most commonly used in mobile video advertising and are most effective when used as CTAs once users finish interacting with a web page’s content. 

Although this type of ad can be considered disruptive, if it’s backed up with animations, rich visuals, or inviting users to interact with it, it can be quite a potent tool in any brand’s marketing arsenal. According to AppFlod, interstitial ads accounted for 70% of the mobile market ad revenue back in 2014. Unfortunately, these ads are nowhere nearly as effective on desktop, so consider how your audience accesses your content when deciding whether to use these ads.


  • Excellent exposure and brand recall rate
  • Highly converting on mobile devices
  • Supports animations and a variety of other rich media content


  • Some may consider them disruptive, especially if executed poorly
  • A significant portion of these ads’ CTR could be due to misclicks
  • More challenging to design and implement appropriately

Pushdown Ads

image illustrating pushdown ads

Pushdown rich media ads are an excellent alternative to expandable ads. Unlike their expandable counterparts, these ads don’t overlay the page’s content but instead push it down. Because of that, these ads support a variety of different rich media formats and usually get more impressions and interactions than expandable ads. Unfortunately, they still suffer from the same issues as their counterparts regarding potential UX disruption on mobile devices.


  • They don’t overlay content but push it down the page
  • Higher impressions than expandable ads
  • A wide variety of supported rich media formats


  • Can prove disruptive on mobile devices
  • Only effective if used scarcely

Slider Ads

image illustrating slider ads

Slider ads usually appear as an image or video acting as an outstream ad unit and appearing from one of the corners of the users’ screen and following them as they scroll down the page. Depending on how these ads are set up, they can be highly intrusive or effective in gaining users’ attention. 

For instance, if the slider ad appears as a sticky video ad with autoplay enabled, it’s likely to frustrate users. If the slider ad is too big, it will take too much of the users’ screen. That will likely result in their shutting it down or leaving the page. These types of ads are a double-edged sword, so be careful when implementing them.


  • Effective at grabbing users’ attention
  • They support a variety of rich media types


  • Can be highly detrimental to UX if not implemented correctly
  • Having an ad follow users scrolling down the page could be frustrating for many

Are You Going to Give Rich Media Ads a Shot?

Do you think rich media ads are worth incorporating into your marketing campaigns with all of the above in mind? We sure do!

These ads provide better ROI than most traditional forms of online advertising and offer various design options, ranging from animations and gifs to full-length videos. These possibilities allow advertisers to tell their brand’s stories in a much more compelling manner. At the same time, they offer the long-needed solution to banner blindness. And in a world where user experience is becoming more crucial by the day, these ads provide plenty of flexibility to optimize for it.

So what are you waiting for? Start brainstorming, choose the rich media ads that best fit your business goals, and start converting!

Best of luck to you!