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Which is the Best Ad Format for Mobile Apps?

To help you determine the right ad format for your app, we've created profiles of 4 common formats: banner, interstitial, video and rewarded video ads. Review the pros and cons of each for smart decision making.

Pavel Golubev, Blogger

February 4, 2016

3 Min Read

The best.

Defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as:

“Better than all others in quality or value”

When you’re talking about a technical topic like ad formats for mobile apps, deciding what qualifies as the best can be a bit problematic. It’s often more fruitful to review each ad format in terms of strengths and weaknesses.

To take the subjective nature out of determining the best format, we’ve created profiles of 4 common formats with their respective benefits and drawbacks. That way you can decide which has the most potential to bring you quality and value.

Banner Ads

You’ve likely seen countless banner ads displayed on your screen. There’s a reason this format is the most popular: availability. They’re available for all screens, most apps and the majority of advertisers.

Banner ads are the standard format and tend to be one of the cheapest (if not the cheapest) to show. Typically, these ads have a high fillrate and low eCPM.

For example, we see banner ads perform at:

  • eCPM $0.28 across all ad networks integrated with Appodeal (worldwide)

  • eCPM $1.01 across all ad networks integrated with Appodeal (in the US)

Keep in mind that the message you’d like to produce will be restricted by the space within the format. Also, banner ads are easily ignored due to their ubiquitous nature. To grab the attention of your users, you’ll need to be extra creative and/or rely on some sort of animation.

Interstitial Ads

Interstitial ads occupy the corners, or interstices, of the screen. The nature of this ad format can be its greatest strength or weakness. By taking up the entire screen, the interstitial format forces interaction with the user.

This interaction may take shape in the viewing or immediate closure of the advertisement in question. Interrupting the user is best done wisely and used at natural breaks in the app. On the whole, this format brings in eCPMs 3 to 5 times higher than banner eCPMs:

  • eCPM $1.86 across all ad networks integrated with Appodeal (worldwide)

  • eCPM $5.14 across all ad networks integrated with Appodeal (in the US)

Video Ads

There’s a lot of talk that video advertising is where it’s at with online video ad revenue predicted to reach $5 billion this year.

All the chatter makes sense. Video brings an engaging format and narrative to your advertising strategy. The value and rich media add up to higher eCPM rates.

We’re seeing video ads perform at:

  • eCPM $3.08 across all ad networks (worldwide)

  • eCPM $6.27 across all ad networks (in the US)

Keep in mind that it may be difficult to reach users with poor internet connections. Overall though, there appears to be no stopping video ads.

Native Ads

Native ads were designed to blend in with the user experience, making them quite different from banner and interstitial ads. When this format adheres to the natural form and function of the surrounding user experience, it is successful.

Their less intrusive nature typically leads to higher CTRs, but their performance will vary significantly based on your app design.

Rewarded Video Ads

Rewarded video ads are most common in the mobile gaming industry. Tapping into the rule of reciprocity, users are offered a value exchange while interacting with the app. The users are rewarded for watching a video ad, typically in terms of in-app currency or level advancement.

A good incentive is often enough to convince users to watch the video to the end. By allowing users to opt-in, video completion and user retention rates are increased. The most effective rewarded video ads make for a more positive user experience.

Thus, determining the right ad format depends largely on your desired results and the nature of your application. However, there is one central concept to drive your quest for the best format—always put retaining and enhancing user experience at the top of your priority list.


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