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5 ad formats that will boost your brand

5 ad formats that will boost your brand Michael Tuminello

It's like the difference between watching a movie in a theater or on a 14" TV -- or a glossy full-page magazine ad vs. a small classified. Yes, format matters. Online, larger ads that occupy a bigger portion of the screen and use high quality images and video can make a big impact on results. In fact, it's the creative that drives performance. According to comScore, the creative has four times the impact on results as the media plan does. An analysis of 400 campaigns indicates that the creatives contributed to 52 percent of the overall results, while the media plan contributed to just 13 percent.

5 ad formats that will boost your brand

Furthermore, research by Dynamic Logic on mobile banners shows that while average creative has a positive lift in brand awareness, message association, brand favorability and purchase intent, the bottom echelon of creatives has an adverse effect on performance. The lowest performing creatives actually reduced brand awareness by 2.7 percent, brand favorability by 4.9 percent and purchase intent by 4.0 percent.

The question is, with online branding becoming more important for advertisers, how can creative formats be best used to build a brand? According to eMarketer, users spent 25 percent less time reading newspapers and magazines over the past two years while devoting 10 percent more time to the internet -- and a whopping 50 percent more time consuming mobile. As users spend less time with magazines, advertisers must find new ways of delivering a powerful branding experience. The good news? Today's most compelling display ad formats do the job.

To track the most effective ad formats, we looked at engagement across 300,000 creatives from the MediaMind database. We based our results on dwell, one of the most telling metrics for measuring the effectiveness of branding campaigns. Dwell rate measures the proportion of impressions that were touched by the user's mouse for more than one second. Average dwell duration measures the length of exposure.

This metric was independently evaluated by comScore in research that showed that dwell is linked to higher brand effectiveness and is more relevant than a click count. The research showed that users who were exposed to campaigns with high dwell were three times more likely to search for brand-related keywords and 70 percent more likely to visit the advertiser's site. During the visit, users view more pages and spend more time exploring the brand on the site.

Here are some of the ad formats that generated the highest engagement from users and can create a powerful online branding experience.


If you want to get ample space for your brand without forcing users to leave the publisher page, Sidekick is the ad format for you. Sidekicks were chosen as one of six IAB Rising Star units, formats selected by experts from the IAB out of a pool of 36 ads. Sidekicks work by elegantly pushing the publisher content aside to give the brand center stage.

The results speak for themselves. Compared to a polite banner, the average sidekick delivers 60 percent higher dwell rate and 37 percent higher average dwell duration.

5 ad formats that will boost your brand

When Royal Caribbean wanted to promote its new cruise ship "Allure of the Seas," it needed an inspirational ad format that also delivered lots of information to prospective travelers. Sidekick was a natural choice, offering rich interactivity and opening into an entire microsite with hot spots to explore the ship plus videos to explore the ship's decks in-depth -- all without leaving the publisher's page.


Ever noticed where your gaze lands when a webpage loads? It's probably at the top of the page, making this the most strategic point on the publisher's webpage for advertisers. Pushdown banner leverage this focal point while expanding the canvas for the brand message.

Pushdown banners are loaded much like regular banners, but when the user triggers the ad, the banner pushes down the publisher's content, giving more space to the advertising message. Although they take up a large portion of the screen, it's a very subtle format, because the user need only scroll down to view the publisher's content.

Like the Sidekick, pushdown banners are a one of the IAB Rising Stars ad formats.On average, users are 164 percent more likely to engage with a pushdown as compared to a regular polite banner (as measured by dwell rate.)


Sports and beer go well together, but Buffalo Wild Wings took the pairing one step further. In its pushdown banner on ESPN, Buffalo Wild Wings showed what can be a great use of a piece of paper when you really want to have a nice cold beer. Timed during the football and college basketball season, this ad's physical punch line was well suited to the pushdown format.

Homepage takeover

Perhaps the king of ad formats, homepage takeovers can be a great way to deliver an impactful branding experience. It is a favorite for launching new products and movies, in part thanks to dwell rates 32 percent higher than polite banners and average dwell duration 67 percent higher.

5 ad formats that will boost your brand

The well-known fashion brand Diesel used a homepage takeover to launch its new perfume "Fuel for Life." Advertising perfume online is no easy task, as you need to convey the essence of the scent through a banner.

But using a homepage takeover, Diesel was able to cover the full screen with denim, the product for which Diesel is best known. Diesel embedded within the ad a video featuring two stunning models, an oversized bottle of the perfume, and music.The two models fool around with the giant bottle of perfume, creating a playful but sensual scene that captures the Diesel brand.

Messenger ads

Tiny but enormously effective, messenger ads take advantage of the idle minutes of waiting that occurs during a chat session to deliver the advertising message. While users wait for their friends' replies, they are much more likely to engage with the ad. Dwell rate is a remarkable 193 percent higher than polite banners, while average dwell duration is 163 percent higher.

5 ad formats that will boost your brand

Nike used this highly visible format to help launch its new running shoe, the Nike Free. Messenger ads may be small (240x60 pixels), but they open to a full-screen application upon a click. This Nike application allows users to view video details about the shoe, explore videos and even download PDFs explaining Nike Life's new approach to running shoes.

This ad takes a whole new approach to online advertising, delivering the entire brand experience within a banner and without requiring a visit to the Nike website.

Video extender

Video extender formats are simply too cool to ignore. A small button allows you to drag and expand the video over content to any size you want, and the video continues to play while being resized. This ad format is designed to provide the ultimate user experience while dragging the video. User engagement with these video ads is phenomenal, with dwell rates 103 percent above polite banners and average dwell duration is 39 percent above polite banners.

5 ad formats that will boost your brand

Video extender allowed Motorola and CBS to use a video on a text site in a highly engaging way. This campaign used a relatively long video asset, and long video constrained to the size of the banner can be a drag. With the video extender, Motorola created a modular, nonintrusive video that allowed users to access the large, high quality video that boosts recall.


As users shift more time from traditional media such as magazines and newspapers to online advertising, advertisers must recognize ad format as a quintessential part of the creative. From the tiny messenger ad to the home page takeover, the right ad format can really make a difference for your brand.

Michael Tuminello is senior manager of product planning at MediaMind.

On Twitter? Follow iMedia Connection at @iMediaTweet.

"Blank billboard on blue sky" image and "Construction site craneimage via Shutterstock.

  Michael Tuminello is Director of Product at Innovid, managing the iRoll® format family and the creative tools for building them. He was previously responsible for rich media and creative at Mediamind, including the Mediamind Workshop,...

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to leave comments.

Commenter: Jon Clarke

2012, February 22

I so totally agree, we seem to have as an industry concentrated on price, pushing it lower and lower to satisfy clients, but what we've not done is use the amazing qualities digital media offers in creating engaging ads. I'd point you to look at www.Adbars.net to where we got so fed up with the status quo we decided to do something about it and see results 20-60x better than normal ads. We then didn't just sit on it we decided to offer it to other agencies and advertisers too and publishers are enjoying better prices that can be supported as the results for the client are far superior to what they normally do.