Mobile Ad Formats – The Complete Guide For Advertisers & Developers

Mobile Ad Formats 1


Whether your goal is to build brand awareness or acquire customers, mobile ads are a vital part of any comprehensive marketing strategy. Smartphones are now more common than desktop computers, and audiences use them to play games, post on social media, or browse the internet. Meanwhile, app usage has surpassed that of the mobile web, prompting many advertisers to adjust their marketing strategies accordingly.

Furthermore, in-app marketing is a vastly different discipline compared traditional web advertising. To succeed, advertisers and developers must work together to come up with creative ways of leveraging new and compelling mobile ad formats to engage audiences.

The good news is that advertisers and developers alike have a variety mobile ad formats to choose from. Here are some of the core formats to help you get started.


Offerwalls are interactive in-app ad units that give users the opportunity to earn relevant rewards through incentivized actions. This allows developers and publishers to monetize their apps through contextually relevant offers while letting advertisers foster engagement with new audiences. In most cases, offerwalls take the form of in-app storefronts where users can complete objectives for virtual rewards like in-game currency.

Offerwalls can be deployed in any app, but are especially effective in free-to-play mobile games, where they provide an alternative method for engaged players to acquire in-game items or currency. Offerwalls can themselves be used as a vehicle for delivering other types of ad units, although rewarded ads tend to be the most popular with users. Other engagement opportunities include surveys or free trials for brand services.

Offerwalls are a form of value-exchange advertising, so their only hard rule is that users choose to engage with them, as opposed to interstitial formats which arrive unprompted. This has the added benefit of generating higher levels of engagement compared to unrequested advertisements, which in turn maximizes ad revenue for publishers. Pop-up reminders and notifications can still direct users to the offerwall if effectively integrated with the app’s native experience.

To learn more, check out our Offerwall page.

Rich media ads

In the early days of mobile advertising, most ad creative was delivered through largely static mediums like banners or image-based interstitials. Today, advertisers have found great success using modern web technology to feature more engaging experiences and the ability to respond to user input. Modern ad creative can feature video, audio, or any other creative element that enhances the user experience. What’s more, rich media can effectively attract user attention and provides higher engagement than standard creatives.

Facets of rich media advertising can be leveraged in a variety of other formats, most notably as interactive end cards for video advertisements. These are largely web-based interfaces that can include multiple calls-to-action that can direct traffic towards multiple destinations. Alternatively, rich media technology can be used to develop creative that is 100% interaction based, allowing audiences to engage with brands in new and exciting ways.

Mobile video ads

Mobile video advertisements typically last around 30 seconds and often conclude with an interactive end card that makes use of rich media ad technology. They are an evolution of static interstitial ads which were common in the early days of mobile advertising, reimagined to better support modern device capabilities and advertiser needs.

Mobile video ads are especially effective when deployed as full-screen in-app advertisements, while mobile web deployments are more limited. Mobile video ads can be employed as rewarded placements, or delivered as interstitials. In the case of the ladder, it’s recommended that developers carefully monitor and adjust the frequency of interstitial placements, as studies have shown unprompted ads can damage retention if used to excess. When necessary, interstitial videos are best delivered at natural breaks in user experience. For example, a mobile game should have video ads between levels or gameplay activities, not during gameplay.

For more information, check out our Mobile Video Ads page.

Rewarded videO

Rewarded video ads are among the most popular forms of advertising on modern mobile devices. They go a step beyond traditional video ads by offering users a measurable benefit in exchange for their time and attention. Whether delivered through an offerwall or a standalone placement, rewarded video ads can provide in-app currency, in-game bonuses, or other kinds of premium content that address the vast majority of users who may not be willing to convert on an IAP purchase but are still eager to engage.

Since their inception, multiple studies and in-market examples have emerged to suggest that rewarded ad placements are among the most well-received by users. Many customers know and understand the premise of value-exchange and are happy to engage with rewarded placements knowing that it supports developers and enables further engagement with the products they love.

To learn more, check out our Rewarded Video page.


Playables are short in-app advertisements that offer audiences the chance to experience a sample of a game or app’s core engagement loop. Instead of presenting users with a static interstitial or passive video, playables use touchscreens and other mobile device capabilities to create a small interactive demonstration. Naturally, they are well-suited to mobile gaming categories.

In their most common form, playables highlight a single gameplay mechanic from the advertised app. This gives players the opportunity to sample a game’s experiential value before installing it, usually from a storefront link within the playable itself.

Some common playable deployment examples include:

  • Puzzle-based playables might offer a simple challenge to solve
  • Platformers could present a short level that can be completed in a few seconds
  • Interactive storytelling games can present a single scene from a larger narrative.

Today’s mobile ad formats have transformed the way users engage with traditional marketing campaigns. Meanwhile, the emphasis on value-exchange advertising makes it easier to advertisers and developers to maximize performance and revenue.

Mobile ad format expertise is just one way the monetization and advertising experts at Tapjoy help our customers succeed. For more information on mobile ad essentials, contact the Tapjoy team today.

Looking to brush up your mobile marketing fundamentals? Take a look at our strategy article, “Mobile Ad Mediation – What Developers Need To Know”.

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