Our guide to the best and worst mobile ad formats

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As the world becomes more smartphone-centric, failing to master mobile marketing is no longer an option. Here are some of the best and worst ad formats.

Mobile may have once been dismissed as a trend, but it’s clearly a tactic that’s here to stay, one so prevalent that it’s got its own trends. If you’re trying to reach consumers in 2016, your mobile marketing needs to be on point.

The first thing you need to know is a common misconception: that mobile ads aren’t simply desktop display ads resized to fit the smaller screen. Martin Doettling, chief marketing officer at Swrve, says that the experience is totally different and therefore, the ads must be, too.

“Your phone is always with you: it has a camera, sensor, location. It’s frictionless and it’s always in your pocket, ready to engage,” says Doettling. “You need to understand how it fits into the fabric of my life and my daily routine.”

Want to make sure you’re doing that right? Here’s your handy guide to the best and worst ways to advertise on mobile.

The best

Rectangles

Mobile devices have significantly smaller, less busy screens than desktop computers. This results in less ad blindness and classic display ads, while polarizing on desktop, perform well on mobile.

Google’s guide to ad sizes calls the medium rectangles (300×250 pixels) the best performers of the various mobile display ad sizes. Square ads tend not to perform as well, due to a much more limited inventory.

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In-app

Earlier this month, we wondered whether in-app ads are the future of mobile advertising. In-app advertising is enhanced by location data, giving marketers more context about what users are doing. Being in an app, someone is also naturally going to be more engaged.

Mobile marketing is all about location and context, according to Doettling. He adds that it’s crucial for the ad to fit in with the experience.

“For the call-to-action, give me a choice to rate something; let me say, ‘Yes, I like this’ or ‘No, I don’t like that,'” suggests Doettling. “The most personal way to have human interaction is by having a conversation. That algorithm drives a conversion, but you still perceive it as a conversation.”delta-instagram-ad

Native

The idea behind native ads is that they blends in with the experience seamlessly, rather than being too blatantly advertising-y.

“Take a magazine like Vogue or Elle. It’s this thick and half of that is advertising. People don’t care. It goes with the flow of what they’re doing and doesn’t interrupt,” says Juan Margenat, co-founder and chief operating officer at Marfeel. “How can we replicate that into a smartphone or an iPad?”

Being inherently more engaging, native ads result in quadruple the lift over traditional display ads for branded search activity, as well as six times the lift for generic search activity. eMarketer reported that mobile marketers are estimated to increase their native budgets by 25 percent over the next year, mostly at the expense of banners.

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The worst

Interstitial

You can’t help but notice interstitial ads, full screen pop-ups that are typically deployed during the transition point of an activity. But not all attention is good attention, and interstitial ads are the epitome of disruptive. Earlier this week, video ad tech company Teads released a study which found that 88 percent of consumers find pop-ups intrusive and annoying.

Interstitial mobile ads are commonly used to promote apps, a practice Google started penalizing back in November. Platforms like Pinterest and Yelp still do it all the time, though the former says, “Pinterest works better if you switch to our iPhone-friendly app,” demonstrating some value to the user.image1

If you Google a business and click on its Yelp review, the interstitial asks you if you’d like to read in the app or on the mobile website. Do you notice how only one of those options is presented on a bright red button?

Banner

Many marketers default to banner ads because they’ve been around so long, they seem like a safe choice. However, that longevity can also be problematic, as people are so used to banner ads that they don’t even notice them. And while a mobile screen can result in less ad blindness, the same can’t be said for banner ads, since smaller screens mean faster scrolls. For that reason, Google recommends putting banner ads at the bottom of the page.

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March research from BannerSnack, a San Francisco company that specializes in this particular format, found that 54 percent of consumers find banner ads untrustworthy, to boot.

“Banners are useless. They don’t annoy much, but the results are terrible. People don’t see them and they’re a waste of real estate space,” says Margenat.

It depends

Video

In the fall, Millward Brown Digital found that the average 16- to 45-year-old watches 204 minutes of digital video a day, one-third of which occurs on a mobile device. A short while later, AOL reported that marketers were increasing their mobile video budgets by 18 percent, as spend continues to skyrocket.

Video is all the rage, mostly because people just like the format. According to Millennial Media, video ads receive five times the engagement as banner ads.

But while video is an inherently good format, not all advertisers use it for good. Like pop-ups, preroll video is seen as hugely disruptive, causing 41 percent of the respondents in the aforementioned Teads research to download ad blockers. And then there’s autoplay, which we can all agree is the worst, right?

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