Mobile advertising uses various ad types, each standardized into many sizes and form factors. Knowing when to use the right ad formats in the appropriate contexts is critical to ensure the optimal performance of ads displayed on your site, app, or digital property.
Learn everything you need to know about the most popular ad formats in the most common contexts and discover the top 10 best-performing ad sizes across all mobile devices.
Rich Media Ads
In digital advertising, “rich media” refers to ad units that combine audio, video, and interactive elements. Rich media technologies allow for ad creatives that users can interact with in more ways than simply clicking and being redirected to a different site or app store page.
While most rich media mobile ads typically combine audio, video, and dynamic displays, some contain more advanced features allowing for more complex ad creatives. A typical example is rich media ads for mobile games: many such ads are fully playable demonstrations or snippets of the advertised game that conclude in a link to the game’s app store page.
Rich media ads are interactive and employ multiple technologies to engage viewers more effectively than simpler ad formats. However, their relative complexity results in a significantly larger file size, requiring users to have up to 100 times more bandwidth to display correctly.
Common Rich Media Ad Sizes
Mobile Standard Banner Ads
The banner ad is one of the oldest standards of digital advertising and one of the most frequently used to this day. This form factor usually employs rectangular ad units to display image-based creatives, either static or animated. The primary difference between a mobile banner ad and an equivalent for desktop computers is the banner’s size.
Banner ads intended for display on smartphones and equivalent devices are typically shorter to accommodate their smaller screen resolutions.
In contrast, banner ads optimized for tablets more closely resemble desktop banners in size, offering more space to display ad creatives.
Common Mobile Ad Sizes: Mobile Standard Banner Ads
Mobile Swipe Ads
A swipe ad is an ad format specifically designed and optimized for use on mobile devices. Swipe ads are a variation of animated banner ads. However, instead of displaying a single creative, they use simple rich media technologies to display multiple image creatives (usually 3 to 5), automatically swiping to the next after every 10 seconds.
Users can manually view images or skip through the creatives on a mobile swipe ad with a swiping motion. Tapping the ad usually redirects to the product page, although some swipe ads may activate a full-screen ad instead.
Swipe ads are a compromise between banner ads and rich media ads, employing simpler rich media technologies while being more engaging and interactive than standard banner ads.
Common Mobile Ad Sizes: Mobile Swipe Ads
A native ad is an ad unit designed to resemble or blend into the content. They generally achieve this by matching the visual design and elements of the content surrounding the ad and appearing indistinguishable from the content at first glance. For example, a native ad in a text-based environment like a blog may take the form of sponsored links using the same fonts and styling as the rest of the blog post.
Other examples of native ads include in-game advertising in mobile games, news-feed ads on social networks, promoted results in search engines, and promoted articles in content recommendations. Native ads that employ image-based creatives tend to use standardized form factors like their banner counterparts.
The primary benefit of a native ad is its resemblance with the content the user comes for, increasing their attention and driving engagement rates up. They are also less intrusive than other formats, resulting in a more positive experience for the user.
However, native ads are more time-consuming to produce (they must be equally as engaging as the content), and their effectiveness can be more challenging to measure without the right analytics tools.
Common Mobile Ad Sizes: Native Ads
In-App Ads or Interstitial Ads
An interstitial ad is another type of digital ad exclusively designed and optimized for mobile devices. This ad format exploits the technologies used in mobile applications to automatically inject ads in between specific actions or triggers inside a mobile app, creating a distinctive transition to and from the content. Consequently, they are one of the best mobile ad formats to ensure the users view the ad creatives.
Although app developers and publishers can implement interstitial ads in virtually any mobile app, users most commonly encounter interstitials in mobile games or highly-interactive applications. An interstitial can, for example, appear after a user has completed a game session, displaying a short ad (30 to 60 seconds) before they can resume playing.
By nature, interstitials are impossible to avoid. They are designed to appear instantly in response to a trigger condition (usually a specific action within the application). This factor makes interstitials both highly viewable and potentially very disruptive. Many mobile advertising networks impose strict rules on the usage of interstitials to ensure the user experience (UX) has a minimal impact and to avoid annoying or distracting users.
Common Mobile Ad Sizes: Interstitial Ads
Mobile Video Ads [In-Video] Ads
Mobile in-video advertising uses ad creatives specifically designed to appear in video content. They are designed to display in video players, such as video-sharing platforms (e.g., YouTube) or built-in players on other websites.
Mobile video ads typically interrupt the video content the user came for to display the ad creative. Three types of in-video ads exist; pre-roll, mid-roll, and end-roll. Each type is named after the location of the ad creative in the video content: either before, in the middle, or after.
Common Mobile Ad Sizes: Mobile Video Ads
Scratch Banner Ads
A scratch banner ad is a specialized mobile ad format with interactive elements. Scratch ads hide the ad creative behind a layer and incite the user to “scratch” or “wipe” the layer off to reveal the link or ad underneath, using gestures similar to scratchcard tickets.
Scratch banner ads typically don’t use standardized form factors, instead adapting to the device’s display size as needed. This particularity makes scratch banners a relatively versatile category of mobile ads.
Mobile Cube Ads
Like swipe ads, the mobile cube ad is a variation on standard mobile banner ads that employs multiple ad creative simultaneously. However, instead of featuring swiping motions, a mobile cube ad places six image- or video-based ad creatives, one per side, on the user’s screen.
The cube can either automatically rotate or be manually rotated by the user using swiping motions, allowing them to view a specific creative. While mobile cube ads are relatively new in the mobile advertising landscape, they are highly versatile, with a high potential for novel ad campaigns.
What Are The Best Mobile Banner Ad Sizes?
1. Medium Rectangle (300×250)
The medium rectangle, 300 pixels wide and 250 pixels tall, is one of the most popular and frequently used mobile banner ad sizes. Medium rectangles consistently perform well on top advertising platforms and networks.
Their rectangular but almost square shape is ideal for accommodating nearly any type of ad creative, from static images to interactive ads, making it one of the best mobile ad sizes for all types of campaigns. In addition to mobile banners, the medium rectangle format is also frequently utilized in other ad types, such as rich media ads and swipe ads.
2. Double Rectangle [Half Page] (300×600)
The double rectangle, also known as the half-page banner, is typically 300 pixels wide and 600 pixels tall. This form factor is known as a “half-page” because it is just over half the height of the most common screen resolution on desktop devices: 1920×1080, also known as 1080p.
Double rectangle banners are primarily used to display ads on desktop versions of websites due to being ideally suited for filling up the page’s margins. When configured this way, double rectangle banners remain prominently visible without breaking up the content, preserving user experience.
On mobile devices, where the screen resolutions are much smaller and don’t allow for as much margin space, this ad format is large enough to cover most of the screen of a typical smartphone. Consequently, it is less used as a traditional webpage banner but is a common choice for some interstitials and other full-screen mobile ads.
3. Large Mobile Banner (320×100)
The large mobile banner is 320 pixels wide and 100 pixels tall, making it a mobile equivalent to the classic desktop webpage banner ad. This form factor is ideally suited for breaking up mobile webpages with ad creatives without significantly disrupting the user’s experience.
For example, they can be used as banners to split a mobile webpage with primarily text-based content into two halves. The ad creative serves as a separator with minimal distraction.
Another common use for large mobile banners is for “sticky” ads displayed at the bottom of certain websites, games, and applications. These sticky banners remain on the screen even when swiping or scrolling the page, showing small ad creatives and acting as an overlay without directly breaking up the page content.
4. Expandable Display Ad / Interstitial Ad Format (320×480)
The expandable display ad often referred to as a standard interstitial ad, is typically 320 pixels wide and 480 pixels tall. These dimensions are an IAB standard ad format. It is often selected because it typically covers most of the screen in most smartphone models, if not the entirety of the screen space.
When used in interstitials and other rich media full-screen ad units, the 320×480 ad format is one of the highest-performing across all ad networks, making it a suitable choice for ad campaigns requiring high viewability. Although it is done more rarely, this ad format can also be placed directly into the content of mobile pages, similar to the medium rectangle. The format is also commonly used amongst all mobile ad formats for achieving high CTR when displaying mobile banner ads in some mobile ad campaigns.
5. Tablet Banner / Full Banner (468×60)
The tablet banner on mobile devices is identical in size to the standard full banner on desktop: 468 pixels wide and 60 pixels tall. In the past, before mobile devices entered common usage, desktop display resolutions were much lower (usually 1024×768), making the full banner a natural choice for displaying at the very top of a webpage.
Today, the full banner ad format has experienced a resurgence, partially due to the emergence of the smart tablet. Tablet display resolutions are similar to those used in older desktop displays, with the most common format being 768×1024: identical to the 1024×768 of old, but in portrait format instead of landscape.
These screen resolutions allow developers and publishers to reutilize this classic ad format for tablet versions of their web pages and other digital content, making it one of the most popular formats for mobile ads today.
6. Mobile Leaderboard (320×50)
The mobile leaderboard is a variant of the standard leaderboard format optimized for smartphones. The IAB standard mobile leaderboard is 320 pixels wide and 50 pixels tall.
Mobile leaderboards are a wide, narrow ad format that is relatively unobtrusive. They are typically placed at the top or bottom of the screen when using a mobile web browser. Due to their form factor, mobile leaderboard ads are optimized for use in portrait mode.
Due to limited space, mobile leaderboards typically display only static text or images. However, like large mobile banners, these units are frequently utilized in “sticky” ads overlaid on the content and remaining at the top or bottom of the page.
7. Large Mobile Leaderboard (320×100)
Large mobile leaderboards for mobile banner ads, for example, are similar to their standard counterparts but are twice as tall: 100 pixels tall instead of 50. This form factor makes them identical in size to the large mobile banner.
Consequently, large mobile leaderboards can be utilized in the same contexts as large mobile banners.
8. Standard Leaderboard (728×90)
The standard leaderboard is an IAB standard ad size featuring a width of 728 pixels and a height of 90 pixels. It is one of the oldest ad formats and was originally intended for displaying ad creatives at the top of a website.
In the past, when desktop screen resolutions were smaller, and internet speeds were slower, placing a leaderboard ad at the top ensured it would be among the first elements to load when opening a webpage. Though it is less common, standard leaderboards can also be placed in the middle of the content or at the bottom of the page.
Today, the standard leaderboard is experiencing a resurgence due to the popularity of smart tablets, as they fit the width of most tablet displays without modifications. It is almost twice as long and 1.5 times taller than the tablet banner, making it an ideal fit for tablet versions of websites and specific mobile applications.
9. Square Format (336×336)
One of the most versatile standard banner ad sizes is the square. It is the best mobile ad format. Although there are multiple square format sizes, such as 200×200, 250×250, or 300×300, one of the top-performing sizes today is the 336×336 square. They offer more space for ad creatives and can be placed in more locations.
Usually, a square format ad is the best solution for inserting ads in content where a rectangular ad of the same height would not fit. Square ads can also fit in margins like skyscrapers and half-page ads with no impact on user experience.
10. Wide Skyscraper (160×600)
The wide skyscraper is another IAB standard ad size, with a width of 160 pixels and a height of 600 pixels. Being tall and narrow ad formats, they are primarily suited for displaying text and simple graphics on the margins of a webpage displayed on a desktop screen.
However, developers and publishers can also use the wide skyscraper efficiently in many mobile banner ad contexts, such as the margins of a tablet-optimized website. Although it is considered less versatile than the half-page due to having just a little over half its width, the wide skyscraper remains a top-performing format.
Tips to Choose the Best Formats for your App or Digital Property
Follow these tips and tricks to optimize ad placement and find the best mobile ad sizes for your mobile banner ads & application.
- Research how your users interact with your application and adapt the size and placement of your ads accordingly. Ideally, the ads should neither harm the user experience nor distract them from the content.
- If you intend to implement rich media ads, research whether your users habitually have sound on while using your application. If most of your user base prefers using your digital property with audio disabled, a rich media ad relying on audio content may not be a suitable fit.
- Experiment with multiple sizes whenever possible. Avoid depending on a single format for all your ads; they risk not performing as well as a selection of ads with more varied sizes.
- Use analytics tools to observe the performance of your ads. Regular analysis and periodic retargeting provide you with the information you need to adjust your ad sizing and placement as efficiently as possible.
Need Help Optimizing Your Revenue? Contact CodeFuel Today
Finding the best mobile ad sizes and form factors for your website, blog, app, or mobile game can be daunting. Fortunately, CodeFuel’s team is here to help. We can help you find the best ad sizes for your mobile apps and provide assistance and advice on the best ways to monetize your digital properties. Get started with CodeFuel today.