Mobile Banner Ads -
A Pillar of Mobile
Mobile banner ads remain one of the foundational monetization tools available to mobile app publishers. Here’s how developers can use them more effectively.
Every mobile app has its own unique monetization strategy — some rely exclusively on in-app purchases (IAPs) or subscriptions, while others incorporate mobile ads. But to stay resilient in today’s economy, a diversified approach is your best bet. So can you really afford to ignore the opportunity of mobile banner ads?
Banner ads may not be the most complex ad format, but they have staying power for a reason. It’s telling that brands like Amazon and Postmates lean on mobile banner ads to drive sales, while established apps like AccuWeather and Waze incorporate them into their monetization strategies. At Vungle, we’ve invested big in banner ads, too. Last year, we rolled out some major updates that allow publishers to fill impressions even faster, with enhanced cache optimization.
In this guide, we’ll explore the ins and outs of banners ads, including how to decide if they’re the right fit for your mobile app. Let’s dive in!
What are mobile
Mobile banner ads are small, rectangular advertising images displayed on a portion of the mobile screen. Banner ads are also the oldest of all ad formats, and while they may have originated on desktop, they have also become one of the most prevalent forms of in-app advertising. These ads can be static, animated, or video, typically sticking to the top or bottom of the screen through portions of the session. Mobile banner ads can be deployed via SDK, or programmatically, with the option to refresh if users do not interact with it for a certain period.
How much do
In the U.S., most mobile banner ads generate between $0.50 and $1.20 per 1,000 impressions served. While these may not be the same flashy CPMs as newer formats like rewarded videos, mobile banner ads play a critical role in any comprehensive monetization strategy. They are non-invasive and a great fit for brand advertisers looking to build awareness.
Why use mobile
Banner ads have a poor reputation in some circles — particularly when it comes to desktop web banners — thanks to banner blindness. This phenomenon occurs when users become familiar with standard ad placements on a web page and learn to ignore anything deployed in those spaces.
What not everyone realizes is that banner blindness is avoidable. It typically occurs when ads are boring, scammy, or irrelevant to the user. While it can be challenging to curate quality ad content via programmatic, some SDK networks (like us!) set a high bar to ensure brand safety and optimal performance. Furthermore, resourceful monetization managers have found that creating a “pop-in” effect by toggling banner ads to display after other elements have already been rendered can produce greater engagement levels compared to loading them along with the rest of the UI. With the right partnership, mobile banner ads still have value.
With the right creative and targeting optimizations, mobile banner ads consistently deliver value for publishers and advertisers alike
For publishers looking to monetize their apps, mobile banner ads represent a valuable placement that is easy to implement. Again, diversification is key. Publishers should consider pairing mobile banner ads with other placements, such as rewarded video. Using several different types of ads maximizes revenue while preserving, or in some cases, enhancing the user experience.
When deployed through a high-quality SDK network, mobile banner ads consistently generate incremental revenue from brand advertisers. Mobile banner ads are typically used to monetize free utility apps that see frequent, short-term sessions from users. For this reason, they can be especially effective in casual/hypercasual games, but they can be comparably valuable in mid/hardcore gaming apps, dating apps, social media apps, service apps, and more.
Mobile banner ads are a simple yet cost-effective method of promoting your app or brand. They place a lower demand on ad spend than other formats, yet they guarantee a high degree of visibility — partly because apps tend to display a single ad placement at a time. What’s more, mobile banner ads rarely suffer from the “banner blindness” of desktop ads due to their novelty and persistence on-screen, resulting in higher engagement.
Mobile banner ad sizes
Mobile banner ads come in various sizes, but generally take up a small portion of the screen, unlike full-screen interstitials. This helps advertisers promote their apps with minimal disruption to the user interface.
In terms of technical specifications, the following banner image sizes tend to be the most effective:
Smartphone banner ads
The IAB refers to this banner size as the 6x1 Horizontal. It’s also colloquially known as “micro-banner” because it typically shows up discreetly at the top or bottom of a smartphone interface.
This is the minimum banner size recommended for smartphones. While 320x50 is standard, some publishers may prefer this smaller size for greater subtlety.
Tablet banner ads
The IAB refers to this banner size as the 8x1 Tile. On some platforms, you may also hear it referred to as a “leaderboard” ad because of the large screen real estate it consumes. This mobile banner ad format is ideal for advertisers that wish to include more detail and prominent
MREC banner ads
MREC or medium rectangle banner ads are a larger display unit that typically appears interstitially or within content feeds. For example, these ads may appear after a user completes an action or navigates to a new part of the app. Where there is enough screen real estate, publishers may choose to display MRECs above or below content in lieu of an interstitial. On content streaming apps, MRECs can also be placed during breaks in the content stream. Such placements see strong engagement because they do not take over the full screen, but still include striking visuals, or even video.
Best practices for
mobile banner ads
While mobile banner ads do have inherent benefits, they do require optimization to perform effectively. Use the following best practices to make the most of each campaign:
As a rule, mobile banner ads should be placed at the top or bottom of the app display. Deploying ads in the middle of the screen disrupts the experience and is rarely welcomed by app users. The exception to this rule is MREC banner ads, which can be deployed interstitially or within content feeds. Just be sure to choose moments where the interruption won’t cause frustration to your users.
for paying users
Most users are happy to view ads because they know they provide revenue for developers. Some, however, prefer not to view ads if they’re already paying users. Experiment with offering a payment tier that disables full-screen ads, such as a monthly subscription, and consider limiting their use for high-tier purchasers.
Mobile banner ads should attract attention without disrupting the overall user experience. They accomplish this by keeping banners to an optimal size — one that is just large enough to tap or swipe — while implementing eye-catching designs, animations, or interactive features.
Mobile banner ads have a limited amount of space to work with — don’t fill it with paragraphs of text! Instead, rely on brief, to-the-point calls to action that clearly state what users should expect upon clicking the ad. Reserve a small amount of space for your brand logo, leaving room for any relevant imagery.
Target a variety
Banners are effective when deployed across a wide variety of apps where they can drive incremental growth. Don’t be afraid to experiment with utilities, media, and games.
Test and optimize
Always conduct A/B testing on different ad creative versions so you can optimize for engagement, particularly the click-through rate. If you're in need of a creative refresh, partner with a mobile ad network that will help you design and optimize creative as added value to your campaign. Those that incorporate machine learning into their creative optimization will show the strongest performance.
Mobile banner ad examples
Master your mobile
banner ad monetization
If you’re looking to get a start on mobile banner ads, Vungle can help. We offer complete monetization and in-app advertising solutions that emphasize quality creative and consistent fill rates, ensuring you get the highest return on investment. Even better, our team can work with you to uncover the strongest placements to complement your existing user experience.