What are Rich Media Ads?

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You’ve probably come across a rich media ad without knowing it — they can be difficult to distinguish from video or interstitial ads. Unlike standard ads, they take a lot of time, effort, and money to create.  

In this article, we’re going to tell you everything you need to know about rich media ads. 

What are rich media ads?

According to Google, rich media ads refer to “an ad that includes advanced features like video, audio, or other elements that encourage viewers to interact and engage with the content.”  The appeal of rich media ads is that they can expand, float, or use any number of multimedia methods to try to engage with the user. 

Since people spending a lot of time online already have what is referred to as ad blindness, or banner fatigue (which is when an audience becomes so tired of seeing ads everywhere that they begin purposely ignoring them), rich media advertising offers a dynamic way to grab their attention in a positive way that makes them want to interact with the ad. 

Image from SmartyAds

Rich media ads vs. standard ads

The differences between rich media ads and standard display ads are pretty obvious. As mentioned above, rich media ads are multimedia ads that really jump out at you and grab your attention. You can add audio, animations, video, or music in addition to regular text and images. 

Standard ads, also referred to as standard banner ads, are essentially your run-of-the-mill image ad. They’re not interactive, and they depend on basic images and text to attract an audience. By basic, we mean that the images are flat compared to rich media ads since there’s no animation or 3D element.

That’s not to say that standard ads don’t get the job done, because they can be quite effective when positioned well. That’s why they’re most commonly found at the top, bottom, or sides of a webpage. The catch is that the text of a standard ad is really your selling point, because not all products sell themselves, so the copy has to be as relatable and intriguing as possible to generate clicks.

Other minor differences between the two are the sizes of potential displays and costs. Rich media ads are more expensive and involved than standard ads, while standard ads have more display sizing options.

Standard creativeRich media creative
A single .html, .gif, .png, or .jpg file format of 200K or less Contains no video or expansionUsually only tracks a single click-through linkUsually exceeds 200KMay use multiple filesMay contain videoMay expand to a larger sizeMay include detailed tracking metrics on user interactivityMay track multiple click-through linksMay contain other special features (polling, send-to-a-friend, gallery, etc.)Some publishers may require a polite load
Chart from Google

Rich media creative types

Rich media ads can be applied to different types of ad formats and they include:

  • Banner – A creative with a fixed size and position on a web page or in a mobile app; a banner is the most basic rich media ad format. 
  • Dynamic creatives – Banner, expanding, interstitial, or VPAID creative types can also be dynamic. Dynamic creatives use a linked management profile that can change creative content on the fly, either manually or based on content rules.
  • Expanding – A creative that expands beyond its initial dimensions overtop of other page or app content. Expansion can take place after a user interacts (for example, by click, tap, or mouse-over) or automatically when the page loads (auto-expand). 
  • Interstitial – A creative that either floats on top of a page’s content or appears as a fullscreen ad during natural transition points in mobile apps, such as during launch, loading, and video pre-roll. 
  • Lightbox – Lightbox is a premium brand format for the Google Display Network; it is an expanding creative that works on both desktop and mobile. On desktop computers, a two-second mouseover expands the lightbox; on mobile devices, you tap to expand. When expanded, the lightbox takes over most of the available screen space to feature brand content, including videos, maps, games, and more.
  • Multi-directional expanding – A creative that expands in multiple directions, depending on where the ad appears in the page. 
  • Pushdown – An expanding creative that pushes down the content of a webpage when the creative expands, moving the web page out of the way to display the ad. 
  • VideoVideo can be included in all other formats. See VPAID below to learn about ads that are displayed within or alongside publisher video content instead.
  • VPAID – VPAID stands for Video Player-Ad Interface Definition. A VPAID creative is displayed in an publisher’s in-stream video player (like the YouTube player), and typically includes video content. 


Rich media ads are worth it. Nailing the perfect rich media ads can generate a large number of clicks and ultimately conversions, all because the ads are unique in that they’re interactive — and social media users are always looking to interact.

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