How Are Rich Media Ads Different From Other Formats?

Let’s be honest — ads can be boring. So it should come as no surprise that audiences have developed the ability to ignore ads as they explore a webpage. Between banner blindness and ad blockers, it gets more challenging to serve views or garner any real interaction. This is a big problem since ad campaigns aim to raise brand awareness and create conversions. And as the middleman dependent on helping advertisers meet these goals, publishers lose out too.

Thankfully, rich media ads are shaking up the industry and increasing interactions (sometimes forcibly so). Rich media advertising is rendering an impressive return on investment for brands. As a result, they’re highly in demand and very profitable. So any publisher interested in scaling their online advertising earnings, rich media ads will be necessary.

What are Rich Media Ads?

Rich media ads are creatives that incorporate dynamic and interactive content. They can convey text, images, games, video, audio, animation, or any combination of the few. Although they cost advertisers a pretty penny to make, the resulting conversions and increased interaction rate make them worth it. For example, eMarketer reports that click-through rates (CTR) for rich media ads outperform standard banner ads by a whopping 267%! As a result, they’re highly in-demand and possibly (dare we say) the future of display advertising. 

Incorporating rich media ad formats is an easy way for bloggers to increase engagement and viewability — and boost earnings! There are many different types of rich media ads to take advantage of. So whether you’re tired of the same old static ads/standard display ads or are just looking to earn more, here’s what to know about rich media ads. 

Rich Media Ad Formats

Banner Ads

A popular type to work with, rich media banner ads live at the top (header) of the webpage. Unlike regular standard banner ads, they include various interactive elements to boost engagement and appeal. For example, they can incorporate text and animated content and even be designed to react to user interaction. 

Being above the fold gives them high viewability, and their fun components help defeat banner blindness. As a result, these ads typically have high engagement and high CTRs. 

Any blogger a fan of the traditional banner ad has the potential to better their ad strategies with a rich media banner ad— we’re talking more money! 

Properties: fast-loading speed, dynamic, high CTR/viewability 

Expandable Banner Ads

In the same vein, expandable banner ads occupy a web page’s header. Like rich media banner ads, they incorporate everything from animation to video and text to draw a user’s attention. However, in addition to eye-catching media, they’re expandable ads—specific user actions (click, hovering over the ad, tap) trigger the ad to expand in size. Once expanded, the ad’s display time is on a set timer and returns to the original size once timed out. 

Properties: slower-loading speed (due to heavier media file), great for combating banner blindness, high CTR/engagement 

Pushdown Ads

Pushdown ads are another type of expanding creative. They give users a slight tease of content such as animation, video, or text while they’re scrolling. If the user finds the ad appealing and clicks or hovers over it, it expands. When it grows, the rest of the content on the page pushes down. As a result, the ad doesn’t obstruct the content on the page or disrupt the user’s experience. 

Properties: user-friendly, fast loading speed, supports multiple triggers

Interstitial Ads

Interstitial ads are full-screen ads that are highly effective in reducing banner blindness and user neglect. On mobile devices, interstitial ads are triggered when a user switches to another page on a publisher’s website. On desktop, they can appear as a regular ad unit with a fixed location or move along as a user scrolls the page. User interaction or transition points on a webpage will trigger them to expand. 

Properties: high viewability, high CPM rates, can be considered intrusive to users

Lightbox Ads

Lightbox ads work similarly to pop-ups. They begin as a static ad that takes over the screen when a user clicks or hovers (for two seconds or longer) over the ad. After the user triggers the ad, the screen will dim, and a ‘light box’ showing the ad will appear on the screen. These types force interactivity because the user must click to exit the ad. Like other rich media formats, lightbox ads can incorporate a wide range of content; video, game, animation, etc. 

Properties: minimizes accidental engagement, good user experience, won’t slow page loading speed

Slider Ads

These ads typically exist on the bottom of a user’s screen and move along with the content as the user scrolls the page. When the user stops scrolling, the ad will settle back into its usual position. Although any rich media element can be used in slider ads, they typically appear as video ads. Combining video and forced viewability results in high engagement and video completions. 

Properties: reduces banner-blindness, high CTR, don’t obstruct page content

How Are Rich Media Ads Different From Other Ad Formats?


The most significant benefit to publishers is that rich media ads force engagement. For example, interactive elements draw attention more than standard text ads. As users engage, interact, and view videos, publisher earnings increase.    


Traditional ad formats only support a single .html, .gif, .png, or .jpg file format. It severely limits their capabilities to be dynamic or support rich elements. On the other hand, rich media ads use more diverse and modern formats. They can use javascript and html5 as well, supporting larger file sizes and rich elements (such as video).

User Experience

Rich media ads can be a bit of a double-edged sword for user experience (UX). Compared to traditional ads, they’re much more intrusive— and some even go as far as forcing interaction. As a result, they’re not the most subtle and can disrupt user intent on a page. However, there are different rich media ad formats. So, publishers concerned with a better user experience can always work with friendlier types.

Negative user experience, in this case, is often offset by significantly higher interaction and engagement. It’s a great way to boost revenue but should be balanced. For example, you can place fewer ad units on a web page containing rich media ads.

Video Ads

Video content has taken off in digital advertising. As a result, video ads are in demand, profitable, and highly recommended ad types to work with. Although more traditional video ad types exist, they don’t force user engagement as much as rich media types. As a result, video is leveraged better ( and more successful) when coupled with a rich media format.

Tracking Metrics

Rich media ads provide better-detailed analytics for advertisers to use. For example, regular ads limit tracking to a single click-through link and impression. On the other hand, rich media ads track display time, views, full-screen video completions, pre-interaction enticements, and much more.

Lauren Aloia

Senior Account Manager, Publisher Development: Newor Media

Lauren is an ad tech expert with a wealth of experience spanning product development, ad operations, and data analysis. She currently works with Newor Media publishers to implement yield optimization strategies that maximize revenue from their programmatic inventory.