Digital Ad Formats | Ultimate Guide for Beginners

#Ad Types
digital ad formats

Many publishers who have decided to display programmatic ads discover that there are many ad formats out there but have no idea how they look. 

In this article, you will learn about digital ad formats–standard, rich media, and video. This guide is for every publisher out there who wants to see how many programmatic ads are there and which are the most used for mobile and desktop.

Table of Contents:

Standard Ad Formats


One of the most popular ad formats available. They usually have static elements–image or text. This ad format is less intrusive than other ad formats, and users usually click on them intentionally. 

They are lighter than the rich media and video ad formats, meaning they can load faster and appear on the site quicker.


Sticky ads are automatically hidden if there is a banner beneath, and they usually are in-view when a user scrolls the page. There are no ads on top of each other on desktop and mobile devices. Sticky ads can be easily hidden by clicking the close button in the corner of the ad. 

Sticky ads have higher CPMs than banner ads, so they help to increase the publisher’s ad revenue.


Native ads ‘blend’ into the publisher’s content because they appear where they fit most naturally. As a result, they mirror the website’s look and feel and provide a non-intrusive advertising experience. Native ads usually appear in social media feeds or as promoted search results. 

Native ads are custom-made for every page and can include video, recommendation blocks, promoted listings, and more.

Learn more: Native Ads vs Display Ads | Everything You Should Know


AMP ads are a form of mobile ads that are faster and lighter than standard banner ads. These ads are capable of loading within ≈1 second. AMP ads are built using AMP Open Source components and do not contain arbitrary JavaScript. They can be displayed on both AMP and non-AMP pages and are safe from malware. 

Learn more: AMP ADS: What They Are and How To Get Started?

Rich Media Ad Formats


Interstitial ads are interactive, full-screen ads that are displayed when a user switches to another page. They increase a website’s ad diversity, minimize “banner blindness,” and improve overall ad engagement. This ad format has higher CTRs compared to standard ad formats. 

Interstitial ads include not only images but also animated content. They have limited frequency capping to reduce intrusiveness.

Learn more: What are Interstitial Ads and Should You Use Them?


Expandable ads expand in size when users trigger them by clicking on them. These ads are time-based, which means that after some time, the ad will retract back.

Learn more: How are Rich Media Ads Different from Other Ad Formats?

Video Ad Formats


Instream video ads appear inside pre-existing video content and require a video player. Publishers are usually paid on CPV (Cost per View) or CPM basis. 

  • Linear ads

Linear instream ads are video ads that appear before (pre-roll), during (mid-roll), or after (post-roll) a pre-existing video content. They are typically from 6 seconds up to a minute long, but viewers can skip them after 5 seconds.

  • Non-linear ads

Non-linear ads are image or text overlays that appear during video content playback without disrupting it.

  • Companion ads

A companion ad is a display ad that appears around the video player. It usually has a clear call to action.


Outstream video ads are designed to play outside of video content and do not require a separate video player on the publisher’s website. They don’t prevent the viewers from seeing the content as users can scroll past them or dismiss them. Publishers get paid when the video is viewed for at least 2 seconds.  

  • Interstitial video (mobile)/ Video overlay (desktop)  

Full-screen autoplay video. Interstitial video ads are only used in mobile environments, for example, in mobile game apps in-between the rounds. There is no agreed alternative for desktop; however, an overlay video ad is the closest one. A video unit hovers over the content and closes automatically when the video ends. 

Setupad offers app monetization for web-based applications.

  • In-read video ads

In-read outstream ads usually begin once they’re over 50% visible to ensure the highest engagement. The video will autoplay, but if the user decides to scroll through, the video will pause. They resemble native ads and appear within content, inviting a user to interact with them. These ads usually autoplay without sound.

  • Video slider ads

Video slider ads at first are visible within the article as a video. This ad slide in or fade in at the bottom of a page and stick to it while users scroll. To display this ad format, the publisher needs creatives based on third-party codes. This type of ad format can be created as a video or banner slider ad.

Learn more: Outstream Video Ads | Advantages and Disadvantages

Final Thoughts

Make sure that your displayed programmatic ad formats comply with Google policies to avoid unnecessary penalties. If you currently monetize your site with Google Adsense or Setupad, you don’t have to worry about it! 

About Alise Zaiceva
Alise is a content marketing manager at Setupad. She’s passionate about content and helping publishers scale their businesses through powerful digital marketing strategies. In her free time, she expands her knowledge of tech.