What Are Mobile Rich Media Ads Anyway?

On both desktop and mobile, “rich media ads” are generally understood to be a step up from static banner ads. They can include video, audio and other types of content that are designed to drive audiences towards interacting with the ad.

  • Can use video, audio, images and more
  • Also sometimes referred to as a “multimedia” banner
  • Often, but not always, made using HTML5 (Flash is still a thing, but not for much longer)
  • Can appear in-feed or fullscreen

The key to the success of mobile rich media ads is their higher levels of engagement. They’re simply better to interact with. And they can be, you know, fun (you can, of course, make super-serious mobile rich media ads, if that’s what your campaign calls for).

Mobile Rich Media Ads, Like A Knight In Shining Armor

First, in case you’re not familiar with the history of display advertising, here’s a little bit of background.
The first banner ad ever to grace the web enjoyed a CTR of 44%. Different times, eh? As with many new and novel things, people were interested in it. And as a result, they clicked.

knight in shining armor - mobile rich media ads

Spin forward 20-odd years and the digital marketing landscape has shifted rather. People view banner ads with contempt and suspicion – 54% of user don’t click on banner ads because they’re suspicious of them.
And then you have the 198 million users, worldwide, who will virtually never see a banner ad at all thanks to ad blocking.
Nowadays, advertisers can expect to see a CTR nearer 0.11% for standard desktop banners. These banners are essentially the same as the ads we first saw, 20-odd years ago.
global rich media ad statistics 2015
So, yeah. If you’re into digital marketing, looking at desktop CTR figures alone can make for some pretty depressing reading.
Mobile, though, fares better with standard mobile banner ads achieving 0.26%.
So, now here we are – with brands, agencies and ad tech companies trying to address the dwindling number of users willing to click on their ads. On the other side of the same issue, you have publishers who are facing falling ad revenues, thanks in large part to ad blocking.
Then, riding onto the field, you have mobile rich media ads.
In the early forms, mobile rich media ads delivered better CTRs than their static counterparts. Again, this can in large part, be put down to the “new” factor.
Users have become fed up with standard banners then suddenly they’re presented, maybe, a video or perhaps they’re able to interact with it in someway. This positive first response encouraged marketers, driving rapid growth in mobile rich media ad usage – with much of it being centered around video.

Why Are Mobile Rich Media Ads Better?

So, why do people engage with mobile rich media ads more than standard mobile ads? Well, a lot of it is down to the novelty factor. But there’s a lot more to it than that.

Stand Out From The Crowd

Mobile rich media ads give brands more time and creative real estate to let their ideas shine. With full screen ad units, they have the entire screen area to play with.
In-feed placements also benefit from mobile rich media ads – thanks to video and even interactive ad units like image galleries, panoramas and more. This creative freedom means brands, more than ever, are free to express their unique benefits. It’s no longer just about slapping some solid copy on top of a pretty picture. We’ve come a long way since then.


More and more these days, when you’re trying to engage your audience, time is of the essence. You need to present them with something that grabs them by the eyeballs and says “look at me!”.
Video and moving images go a long way towards achieving that. They draw the eye in. But mobile rich media ads are able to go further than that. By presenting audiences with novel ways to engage with an ad, they’re more likely to engage with it for longer.

More Interactions

With a standard banner, advertisers are essentially limited to a single interaction – tapping on the ad and redirecting their audience to a landing page. This landing page then needs to be optimized and performing well on mobile screens.
But with mobile rich media ads, the ad unit itself can contain a wealth of different interaction types. In the case of some campaigns, you can even get them to convert within the ad itself – removing the need for a landing page entirely.

More Data

Standard banners only give you two metrics: click-through rates and impressions. As a result, CTR has pretty much become the default metric that marketers are interested in. With good reason of course. But what if you want to know a bit more?
Mobile rich media ads allow for engagement rates and also rates of interaction for every individual element within the ad. This helps to take the guesswork out of optimization. Knowing precisely which elements or behaviors are delivering better results, makes focusing on what’s working easier.

Cost and Return

With Flash and, still to a large extent, most HTML5 ads are time consuming to produce, sometimes with production times measured in days or weeks. This long production time frequently leads to inflated costs. But all is not lost.
It’s now possible to use existing to media assets in mobile rich media ads, without the need for HTML5, flash, builders or anything like that. Easy-to-use, template based platforms open up the playing field, allowing not just agencies, but SMEs and more to tap into rich media on mobile.
What are your experiences with mobile rich media ads? Let me know in the comments, or drop me a line on social media. I’d love to hear from you.