How to Choose the Best Digital Ad Formats

Ad formats…everyone’s got them (we have few of our own). Whatever your campaign or monetization strategy, there are plenty of digital ad formats available. The problem isn’t availability, it is what formats to choose and how to coordinate them.

What are the best ad formats to use? It depends, but not on what you’d think

Let’s talk CTRs and conversion rates…specifically, why I’m not giving them to you:

  1. If you want them, there are plenty of readily available graphs from reputable sources
  2. CTRs are generally neck-and-neck for ad format type, e.g. display ads
  3. A percentage of CTRs includes bot traffic and accidental clicks
  4. Most importantly, mass produced statistics don’t provide you context.

And conversion rates? See above…WAIT, we’re anything but rigid, so here is a good rule of thumb:

Interruptive #ad formats tend to have a greater conversion rate than display ads, but users loathe them. CLICK TO TWEET
Whether you are an advertiser or publisher, remember that rule of thumb. It will help you decide which formats to use for a campaign or use on your website.

The underlying principle of the rule is user disruption; the costs of disruption to the advertiser and publisher increase with the level of disruption.

Nonetheless, there are a few finer points to consider when acting as an advertiser or publisher.

For advertisers, format diversification is key

When you work with ad networks, you face bidding mechanics and publisher restrictions: use multiple formats and you will maximize your reach.

The more popular the format is among advertisers, the higher you need to bid in order to increase the likelihood of reaching your target audience.

Strike a balance between allocating your budget toward pricier formats and spreading it across formats. Some publishers restrict specific formats, such as interruptive types.

What if a publisher’s traffic is your target audience, but the formats you deploy are restricted?

The devices that your campaigns will be viewed from should also factor in your campaign strategy. A large percentage of your audience will probably view your ads from mobile devices, which will influence ad format mechanics.

For example, when viewed in-app, interstitial ads are less likely to have a time lock, unlike their desktop counterparts.

For publishers, traffic is king

Your primary consideration should be your traffic’s disruption tolerance. Generally, the higher your content value, the higher your users’ disruption tolerance.

If you’ve ever visited an unofficial streaming site, you were likely bombarded with dozens of site-under ads (especially if they bypass adblockers). This only works because the content’s value outweighs the poor user experience.

Why are they using so many site-unders? Because site-unders typically have the highest payout. The higher the user disruption, the higher the payout will be.

Your monetization strategy should be a balance between payout and impact to the user experience. Should you include a site-under as part of your strategy? For some, it will make sense; for others, not so much.

Follow YOUR audience or traffic

There is enough statistical information available for you to identify overall trends. However, these trends can’t account for the unique factors that affect your audience or traffic.

You may be able to use that information to make initial choices about what digital ad formats to use or allow, but you’ll need to track them to understand what effect they’re having.

Advertiser or publisher, you must understand overall trends, follow feedback, and adjust your strategy accordingly…

…then you will be rewarded instead of penalized.


Here’s a little update from 2017 – we’ve added some highly effective formats to our selection, read all about it here. 

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6 comments

Profile picture of Shaji C A

Shaji C A on Jun 08, 2018 at 8:28 pm

nice

Profile picture of Youness suarez

Youness suarez on Mar 22, 2018 at 2:08 am

What is the best ad format for highest earnings ? Please respond to the question directly. Because we need to maximize revenue

Profile picture of Kyle Buzzell

Kyle Buzzell on Jan 04, 2017 at 4:22 pm

Thank you for the feedback Karson. Do you have anything to add as to how you choose formats?

Profile picture of Karson

Karson on Jan 04, 2017 at 12:43 pm

Your's is the inleeligtnt approach to this issue.

Profile picture of Kyle Buzzell

Kyle Buzzell on Dec 07, 2016 at 5:27 pm

Hello Salman, Every ad format has its pros and cons...typically balanced in terms of disruption. It depends on a number of factors including whether you are operating as an advertiser or publisher, the value of your content, the goals of your campaign, etc. In short, there is not one 'best' format.

Profile picture of salman

salman on Dec 07, 2016 at 12:17 pm

which one is best format please tell me?

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