Mobile Ads: The 7 Types and Formats Every Publisher Needs to Know

Mobile Ads: The 7 Types and Formats Every Publisher Needs to Know

No two mobile ads are precisely the same. Choosing the right format and placement can make all the difference to your app monetization strategy.

If you’re a publisher looking to monetize your app, mobile advertising isn’t a phenomenon you can afford to ignore. As of 2020, in-app ad spend is worth $283 billion globally — a figure that is expected to reach $400 billion by 2023.

Mobile ads represent a lucrative opportunity, but not all placements have the same impact. Banners, videos, and playables affect audiences in different ways, influencing how they engage with ad content. That’s why publishers need to build placements to support formats preferred by their user base.

This article outlines the dominant ad formats within the modern mobile ecosystem while providing resources to effectively (and profitably) integrate them with your app.

Mobile ad type #1: Display ads

The term “mobile display ads” refers to a variety of visual ad placements that publishers can deploy within an app or mobile web page that are rendered alongside content and do not take full-screen control. Advertisers and publishers use the term to distinguish image-based ad units from other formats like videos or search result advertising.

Mobile ad type #1: Display Ads

Many advertising formats fall within the definition of mobile display ads, including banners, MRECs, and interactive animations. Most display ads leverage a combination of text, static images, rich media, video, and audio to engage users. The only activity that disqualifies an advertisement as a display ad is when it overrides user control of the mobile interface.

Today, the world’s largest display and mobile ad network is the Google Display Network, which can reach over four billion users across two million mobile apps and websites. Mobile display ads are also a core marketing strategy for brands outside of the Display Network, which deploy them via SDK networks (like Vungle!) and supply-side platforms.

Mobile display ads are an integral part of any comprehensive ad monetization strategy. Diversifying to include mobile display ads allows publishers to take advantage of the kind of high-volume media buys often placed by brands and other businesses prioritizing brand awareness over performance.

Average revenue earned: Across all display ad formats, average revenue in the United States is around $0.50 to $1.30 for every 1,000 impressions served.

To learn more, check out our full page on
Mobile Display Ads.

Display ads format: Banner ads

Display ads format: Banner ads

A subset of mobile display ads, mobile banner ads are small, rectangular ads that are deployed mobile screens and consist of animated or static images. Publishers typically affix banners to the top or bottom of the display during app or mobile web sessions. If users do not close or otherwise interact with a mobile banner for a certain length of time, publishers can have them refresh through additional campaigns drawn from either programmatic or SDK-based demand sources. Banner ads are currently among the most prevalent in-app advertising formats and appear across a broad range of app categories.

Average revenue earned: Between $0.50 and $1.20 for every 1,000 impressions served.

To learn more check out our full page on,
Mobile Banner Ads.

Display ads format: Medium rectangle ads

Display ads format: Medium rectangle ads

Medium rectangle ads (MRECs) are display ad units that use sizes that fall between small mobile banners and full-screen interstitials. MRECs drive the highest number of impressions in scrollable segments of apps and mobile web pages, such as social media feeds or blog posts.

When publishers leverage the inherent visibility of these kinds of placements, they can counter the effects of banner blindness that leads users to overlook familiar ad placements, generating up to 10 times higher CVRs than traditional banners on average.

Average revenue earned: Between $0.80 and $2.00 for every 1,000 impressions served.

To learn more, check out our full page on
Medium Rectangle Ads.

Mobile ad type #2: Mobile video ads

Mobile video ads are any advertising unit that includes video footage as a primary component.

Mobile ad type #2: Mobile video ads

In an in-app environment, publishers can deploy video ads as full-screen interstitials often paired with rich media end cards that detail a call to action. These are especially effective when deployed in situations where a publisher can reliably count on capturing user attention for a reasonable amount of time without interrupting their experience.

Many advertisers also opt to deploy video creative within banners, MRECs, and other display placements. Since publishers don’t necessarily know whether an ad will render static or video creative, as it’s up to the demand source to deliver the highest performing campaign, publishers need to make sure placements complement the surrounding content without disrupting the user experience.

Advertisers can include audio components in video ad creative, but most publishers mute sound by default unless users opt to engage with the placement. This option prevents ads from making unnecessary sounds when users aren’t necessarily expecting it.

Average revenue earned: Between $2.00 and $13.00 for every 1,000 impressions served.

To learn more, check out our full page on
Mobile Video Ads.

Display ads format: Rewarded videos

Video ad format: Rewarded videos

Rewarded video ads are a type of full-screen mobile video ad that only deploys once users opt-in to view them. Mobile publishers use this format to incentivize user engagement by offering some kind of in-app reward. The most common reward is virtual currency that holds contextual value within the app, but publishers may also provide other bonuses depending on the app category. For example, newspaper apps might offer free articles, or music streaming apps might provide a period of ad-free listening.

Rewarded video can be one of the most effective monetization strategies for publishers if they optimize placements effectively. When publishers match rewards to a hard virtual currency, they should consider how it aligns with their IAP strategy and overall in-app economy. Rewards should remain relevant throughout the entire user lifecycle. Consider starting with small amounts of virtual currency before scaling up rewards to maintain relevance.

Average revenue earned: Between $9.00 and $17.00 for every 1,000 impressions served.

To learn more, check out our full page on
Rewarded Video Ads

Mobile ad type #3: Native ads

Native ads are units that empower the publisher to control the ad experience, often by making
them assume the look and feel of the surrounding content.

Mobile ad type #3: Native Ads

Native ads commonly appear on social media feeds and search engines to blend in with organic content. Users tend to trust native ads over creative from traditional placements and are over 60% more likely to interact with them.

Average revenue earned: Mobile native ad revenues vary widely due to their diverse nature.

To learn more, check out our full page on
Mobile Native Ads.

Mobile ad type #4: Playable ads

Playables are interactive advertisements that allow users to experience some limited functionality of a promoted app.

Mobile ad type #4: Playable ads

The format most frequently promotes mobile games — hence the term “playable” — by depicting a truncated section of gameplay. For example, advertisers promoting a puzzle app could include a partially-completed puzzle that players solve using the mobile touchscreen.

Publishers can use playables as an opportunity to cross-promote games across their portfolio. Even when advertising a competitor’s game, many users prefer the interactivity of playable creative over sitting through a traditional ad. When optimized to match your app’s gameplay cycle, playable ads are mini-games that help break up content while learning about interesting new apps.

Most playable ads deploy as full-screen interstitials that last from 15 seconds to a minute. When the ad content finishes, users are presented with an end card and CTA directing them to the desired action.

Average revenue earned: Between $11.00 and $25.00 for every 1,000 impressions served.

To learn more, check out our full page on Playable Ads

Master your mobile ad monetization strategy

Understanding the available mobile ad formats is only the first step — publishers must select and strategically integrate placements that allow for the most profitable content to be deployed within their apps. Vungle offers complete monetization and in-app advertising solutions that help publishers consistently drive top revenue from their mobile app portfolio. Our experts will work with you to determine the best placements, drive consistent fill rates, and complement your existing user experience.

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