A quick guide of the best online advertising formats

Nowadays there are an infinite number of online advertising formats. Having a digital advertising campaign is a basic requirement for every marketing team, and a fundamental part of an Inbound Marketing strategy. 

Although all marketers are very well familiar with digital advertising, it is important to remember that there is a wide range of creative options, formats and platforms to choose from. 

In this article we will take a look at a quick guide of the best online advertising formats out there, as well as the main creative trends. Let’s get started!

Available formats in Digital Advertising:

best online advertising formats

When you understand how many advertising formats there actually exist, that’s when you start to master the wide world of digital advertising

But keep in mind that new formats emerge every couple of years. It’s almost impossible to master all of them. 

Although marketers and channels are constantly evolving, some of the most popular options remain video and display ads. Both formats can be purchased on a cost per click (CPC) or digital impressions basis.

Video Ad Formats:

video online advertising format

It can’t be denied that we are in the era of video. Given the rise of video content across all digital platforms (especially social media), online advertising formats have evolved in the same direction, giving video more relevance. 

Digital video advertising has positioned itself as an integral part of any performance marketing strategy. Recent studies confirm that 54% of users want to see audiovisual content from their favorite brands or companies. With this in mind, the question is not whether to use video ads, but where to start.

A good starting point could be Youtube. As the second most visited website in the world, YouTube is the favorite meeting point for viewers and advertisers. This platform significantly helped to revolutionize the video era, and to this day it remains one of the favorite platforms for all performance marketers

Here are some of the main formats that YouTube offers:

– Skippable and non-skippable in-stream ads: This type of video ad plays before, during or after any YouTube video or any of Google’s other partners. I’m sure you’ve seen them on more than one occasion.

– Discovery Video Ads: For this type of video, YouTube offers discovery ads to promote videos in search results or on the YouTube homepage next to another related video. They are also very common.

– Bumper ads: This type of video ad is characterized by a maximum duration of 6 seconds. They are designed to reach a wide range of viewers on YouTube and other Google partner websites with a short and memorable message. 

– Out-stream ads: This is the only type of ad that does not appear on YouTube, but does appear on Google’s partner websites and video apps. They are also mobile-only ads that start playing with the sound off, allowing the user to un-mute if they wish. 

– Header ads: Used by brands to get noticed. Featured header ads play automatically without sound for up to 30 seconds at the top of the YouTube home feed.

In addition to YouTube, there are other platforms that also allow video ads, such as Facebook and Instagram. After all, social media users watch more than 100 million hours of video on the platforms every day, making it one of the biggest advertising channels in existence.

These are some of the main digital advertising formats that the Facebook and Instagram ad platform (Meta Ads) allows:

– Slideshow: This ad format allows you to turn static images and text into a simple and quick video. 

– Stories format: This format is one of the most popular formats for digital video advertising. It has more than 1.5 million viewers across Facebook, Instagram and Messenger. Its popularity is due to its mobile-friendly vertical orientation.

– Carousel ads: This is one of my favourite formats. It allows advertisers to display up to 10 images or videos within a single ad. This makes it possible to increase user engagement and tell a story.

– Collection:  This ad format uses a main video to hook users. It has four smaller images in a grid that provide a quick loading experience after clicking. This allows the advertiser to combine the power of video advertising with the instant gratification consumers crave.

– Playable Ads: These interactive ads allow users to try out an application experience, typically a mobile game, within the ad itself. They often use video to engage viewers and encourage them to interact.

– Instant Experience Ads: These mobile-optimised ads load instantly and can combine video, photos, carousels and tilted images.

– In-Stream Booking: These ads are used to show videos in exclusive content, such as Facebook Watch. This format is perfect for reaching younger audiences in a brand-safe environment.

Display Ad Formats

display online advertising format

You can’t spend 10 minutes on the internet without coming across display ads. Mainly used for brand awareness and customer recruitment, these popular advertising formats can be found on websites, apps and social media.

These ads come in a variety of different formats and sizes. They generally use a mix of visual creative – static images, GIFs or video – and concise text to communicate the message.

Most display ads are placed on the Google Display Network, Facebook Audience Network and Twitter Audience Platform. Although display ads can take many forms, these are the most popular formats:

– Still image: A unique, unmoving image, usually accompanied by text.

– Animation: This kind of ad uses between 5 and 10 seconds of looping video or GIFs.

– Interactive format: This display ad format requires viewer participation. For example, answering a survey, playing a small game or entering personal information.

– Video: In contrast to animated display ads, which are only a few seconds long, video ads are longer, but usually no longer than 30 seconds.

– Expanding ads: This display format appears small at first and becomes larger when the user makes a certain interaction, such as clicking or hovering over them.

There are many ways to make display ads. You don’t need a professional photographer to take a fantastic photo to make a good ad. In fact, you may not even need to use a camera.

Sometimes something as simple as a graphic, along with your logo and brand name, can be enough to make an image ad effective. Crowding a small image ad with tons of information can also be damaging to the effectiveness of your ad. Remember that sometimes less is more. 

Make sure you communicate all the information you want to convey with as little clutter as possible. If you find it difficult to communicate everything in a single image, you may need to choose another ad format, such as video.

Other Available Ad Formats

available online advertising format

In this world of digital advertising, marketing creatives are constantly innovating new formats, making the options more and more abundant. Here are some of the most commonly used online advertising formats

– Banner ads: Banner ads are the oldest and remain one of the most popular and economical options. Typically appearing at the top or bottom of the screen, banners are static images that are often used to create brand awareness or take users to an external website.

– Native Ads: I’m sure at some point you’ve been browsing your favourite app and seen a branded post that looks exactly like the content surrounding it. These ads are designed to take on the shape and function of the platform.  Often, the only indication of their true nature is a small “sponsored” tag.

– Rich media ads: Defined by variety and personalisation, mobile rich media ads can incorporate video, animation, interactive elements, GPS functionality and other mobile-specific features.

– Interstitial ads: These ad types take up the entire mobile screen, covering the interface of your Apps. These ads are most effective when used in a place where it makes sense to pause, such as between levels of mobile games.

As you have seen, the different kinds of ad formats are not mutually exclusive. You can use a combination of many of them to enrich your digital advertising strategy. The important thing is to find the formats that best suit your brand and serve your marketing goals. 

Even with a good knowledge of the different digital advertising formats, platforms and creative practices, you will still have questions about what kind of advertising content works best for your brand. 

Fortunately, you don’t have to figure out all the formats on your own. At DDigitals Agency, we’re experts at taking digital advertising campaigns to the next level. We use a combination of leading-edge analytics technologies and years of industry experience. 

Truthfully, to find the most effective advertising strategy to achieve your marketing goals, you’ll need to study the data. What works and what doesn’t. Use machine learning to test and analyze a wider range of different ad types.

If you want to learn more about Google Ads Campaign types, you can check out one of our recent posts: How to choose the best Google Ads campaign type.