In this article, we'll cover everything there is to know about HTML5 rich media ads and how they can help you boost the performance of your advertising campaigns. But first of all, we should have a good understanding of what is a rich media ad :

Rich media ad definition

Understanding what is rich media ads, is pretty easy if you’re used to spend time on the internet. Indeed, when reading an article, browsing on a website, researching on your browser or even online shopping, you might have come across a media ad in a form of a banner, between text , on top of page or at the bottom promoting a brand , a service or a product.

These traditional regular banner ads, have now found their modern version : rich media ads.

Same concept here except that these banners are more interactive and dynamic than static, they now take the form of a media that includes video, CTAs, Audio …. rather than just images.

But don’t take our word for it. While looking for a more formal definition to give you we came across the one from Google Help Support and found it was one of the most clear, relatable and complete definition on the internet.

When asking what is rich media ads, Google answers :

Rich media is a digital advertising term for an ad that includes advanced features like video, audio, or other elements that encourage viewers to interact and engage with the content.While text ads sell with words, and display ads sell with pictures, rich media ads offer more ways to involve an audience with an ad.

In the light of this information we can now say that rich media ads are a combination of text & display ads, bringing the best of both with a more innovative, dynamic, differentiating and especially engaging aspect.

And what about HTML5 ?

Now that we have clear out what is rich media ad, you might be wondering why we call them HTML5 rich media ads ?

Well as you might have guessed it by now, adding interactive content to a media banner can be challenging as it adds weight to the file. The first rich media banners were really heavy and not really web optimized as their weight was slowing down the browsing journey. The HTML5 and LEAN standards are solving this problem optimizing files in order to make them more user friendly and offering a high-performance, fast and latency-free navigation.


Important : There are several rich media ads formats

Rich media ads really are a creative way to differentiate your brand. You have the choice between several format for your ads, here is a top 3 of the most used formats:


The classical choice rich media banners ads are the most common format used on web pages. These ads have the advantage of having a short creation time and are really easy to produce. Quick, easy and efficient rich media banners ads also have a low loading time and have a cost per impression that is medium to high. They are also fixed on the web page.

Rich media banners is used a lot by marketers especially small business as it is an affordable choice. It is also quite well accepted by most web visitors as we’re all so used to see them.

One point to take into account, as it is one of the most commonly used format, you’ll also have to face more competition.

rich media ad banner

Lightbox format

Lightbox ads are often recognizable by their square format. They are often found in blog posts, some product pages or news website. Their particularity is that they can expand whether it is an image a video an illustration or even a combination of these 3 interactive formats.

As you can see on these image, these rich media ads can expand when the user clicks on it, allowing brand to analyze more precisely the different levels of interests of their target.

lightbox rich media banner

Interstitial ads

These ads are mainly used on mobile. They are full-screen ads that covers the web page just like a pop-up!

It is also a video with sound or not that starts immediately when entering the web page, and the user has to close it to access the page. It can appear as more invasive than the other forms of rich media ads, but it has made its proofs as it has high viewability scores and a medium to high cost per impression.

Why you have to start using rich media ads ?

Now that we went through the rich media definition in details and its different forms, let’s get less theoretical and more practical, by seeing all the real and concrete advantages it could bring to your marketing strategy.

Creative freedom

Interactive & Dynamic

As said in the definition, rich media ads have the advantage of being more interactive than traditional ads. Including video in an ad is nowadays a real goal for a lot of marketers. Indeed, 85% of businesses use video as a marketing tool (Optinmonster). And it works !

84% of people say they’ve been convinced to buy a product or service by watching a brand’s video.” (Optinmonster)

According to Wyzowl they are 66% that prefer watching a video to learn about a product rather then read about it.

Rich media ads allow marketers to take advantage of this most liked format and please consumer, improving their experience, but also their brand awarness.

Creative & differentiating

The multiple different formats of rich media ads gives you plenty of choice to stand out and create the ad that fits the best your message, your goal and your brand identity. You can test different ones, see what works the best for your target, put your own touch to it, express your identity, be bold, original, efficient, straight to the point, poetic … really whatever you want. If anything rich media ads offers you more creative freedom rather that limiting your options. At first it can seem like a difficult exercise but you’ll quickly realize all the possibilities. To give you a better outlook on all the opportunities of rich media ads, here is a video about rich media ads that compares it with native ads but does a great job listing all its perks.

Web-optimized & Responsive

Among all its other advantages, it is responsive of course ! Rich media ads have formats that performs really well on mobile. As explained before HTML5 and LEAN standards optimized your files and make them lighter in order to guarantee a high performance online.

Talking Numbers

Engaging and cost-effective

It has been proven, rich media ads banners are way more engaging than traditional banners.

This is due to the invisibility syndrome, also called Banner blindness. Users are so used to seen fixed traditional banners that they don’t even see them anymore. When entering on a website their eyes go straight to the main content and they don’t pay attention to banners as it is part of their usual web journey. This is a challenge for online advertising in general: it is necessary to overcome users boredom that have to deal with banner noise all day long.

Adding dynamism and create something new and original can help counter that effect increasing qualitative views, engagement and brand notoriety

And it is not just words, there are numbers proving it too. According to Bannerflow a banner with video has a click-through rate 18,4% higher than others. This improved user-experience also helps rising the percentage of in-screens impression, as they are 66% higher for rich media ads than for all he other formats.

Also rich media being performing really good on mobile helps improve CTR as it is nowadays the best device for online advertising (especially out of office).

This is mainly explain by the fact that average time spent on mobile increased every year from 2,5%, reaching 4,5 hours / day in 2022 (insider intelligence)

Finally , according to the same source, if we compare rich media ads to traditional banner ads it performs 267% better.

rich media ads performance

Measurable results

click-through rate , engagement , adjustable strategy, testing, improve tracking …

Rich media ads also offer a better & easier tracking of performance. Due to its popularity among marketers, several companies now offer advanced tracking tools to measure performances. Different types of formats and media also includes that rich media ads come with specific metrics:

  • Interaction rate & time: % of users engaged and the average time spent on your ad
  • Average view time: almost the same here but it is compare to the total length of the video
  • Completions: a good pointer of user interest it is a rate that measure the average start and finish for a video
  • Dwell rate: excluding ads clicks it is the % of viewers that are making engaging actions on your ad.
  • Expansion rate: (for expandable formats) number of ads expansions / total number of impressions
  • Custom events and others : pauses, rewind, closes, mutes, mouse hover, down-loads …

Advanced tracking tools will allow you to follow these metrics in accurate numbers but also from multiple viewpoints.

It’s becoming easier

Finally we have to say that creating rich media  ads can seem at first a little bit hard and/or time-consuming, but really once you’re more aware of the formats and the creation process it is really much easier and worth it.

Plus, the web is full of amazing tools to help you do just that, from designing your content, to create your ad or track its results.

To design your content you can use image creation tools or video editing platforms specialized in HTML5 banner ads generation like Abyssale which is a much more efficient alternative to AdCanvas, Bannerflow, Bannersnack, MadYourself and of course Google web designer.

All these tools can help you to create rich media ads in-house, but if you really don’t have the time it may be more efficient for you to hire a freelance, there are a lot of them now that are specialized in creating and doing the set up for these type of ads. Finally it is maybe a good choice to hire a freelance graphic designer to create out-of-the-box visuals that will make you ad stand out !