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An Introduction To Various Programmatic Ad Formats That Generate Sales

Are you a media buyer working for an agency? Perhaps you’re a client-side digital marketer? This article is for anyone looking to get a deeper understanding of online programmatic ad formats. Don’t forget to check out bonus content at the end of this article.

As a programmatic agency, we have first-hand expert experience using all of the ad formats listed in this article. We wanted to share the love about the numerous ad placements available for purchase across various ad exchanges.

We’ll talk about the differences between native, sponsored content, display, remarketing ads and other major advertising formats that you can use in your programmatic ad campaigns.

Before we get started, remember that you should think about these formats in the context of online media planning and channel strategy and the importance of using a mixture of channels to deliver a performance-driven programmatic advertising campaign. There is no ‘right’ format; you’ll need to use a mixture of formats to deliver the most effective campaign. So think carefully about crafting a media plan that leverages each format for the benefits you require specific to your use case.

Suppose you are looking to run a multi-market (as opposed to national) programmatic campaign. In that case, it’s important to understand the various digital advertising formats available, as you’ll need greater flexibility to reach your audiences through the ad space eco-system, which varies by market.

Programmatic Advertising Formats

At the London-based programmatic agency Advant Technology Ltd, we use a combination of the formats listed here to reach the ideal customer at the right point in the buyer journey and ultimately deliver the best possible ROI.

So let’s begin by looking at some of the differences between the various ad formats to run an effective programmatic campaign, whether that be display, native or video, which can all be bought through multiple platforms, using automated bidding across programmatic DSPs.

Programmatic Advertising Formats include

1. Display Ads

2. Native Ads

3. Video Ads

4. Audio Ads

5. Connected TV Ads

6. Digital Out of Home Ads

Programmatic Native

Defined as “ads that live within a publication but have been formatted to match the look and feel of the site on which they reside.” Programmatic technology has enabled this technology to scale over the past ten years and is now the prevailing format in online advertising.

Generally, for programmatic native ads you need an image, a headline, a logo and a short description

Programmatic Display Advertising

Defined as “any marketing message that is displayed to users whether in an online publication, email, or mobile app. Display ads appear in many forms including images and rich media.” They typically are not sold on a pay-per-click instead they are sold on a cost-per-impression model (CPM) available through demand-side platforms (DSP).

Interstitial Ads

Interstitial ads are defined as “ads that appear on a website page and block the content for a few seconds before allowing it to be read.” Interstitial ads, also known as full-screen takeover advertisements, work within a user’s window of attention by temporarily blocking out all other content displayed on their device. Interstitial ads work well for advertisers who want to maximize the screen real estate available when a user browses the internet, and they can come in many forms such as video or banner.

Interstitial ads are known for having a higher click-through rate (CTR) than other types of advertisements because they take up such a large portion of the screen, although some argue that many of the clicks are accidental.

In the early 2010s, a significant portion of websites implemented interstitial ads on their sites to make revenue.

While interstitial ads are still used to this day, the desktop advertising space has shifted away from this format due to its intrusive nature. Apple and Google have made efforts to phase them out there possible.

Example Interstitial Full Screen Ad
Example Interstitial Full Screen Mobile Ad

Audio Ads

Audio ads are defined as “ads that play before or during audio content.” Audio ads work by playing within the user’s window of attention. It’s a format that is newer in the programmatic ad buying industry, and more and more agencies are adopting it as part of their marketing strategy.

There are many ways for advertisers and agencies to effectively use audio ads to target ideal customers, including podcast sponsorships and pre-roll advertisements. The key difference between audio ads and other types of ads is that because they take up the user’s sense of hearing rather than sight, they are slightly more passive than other types of advertisements.

This is why they are often used in conjunction with other media types. Audio ads are particularly effective when you do not have a landing page or generating traffic is of low priority.

Try to make audio ad creative attention-grabbing to keep users focusing on the ad through our the duration resulting in great success.

Audio Programmatic
Programmatic Audio Advant Technology

Video Formats

Video formats/video ads are clips that play before, during, or after the user’s desired content. Video formats vary significantly in length and style, but they typically range from ten seconds to two minutes.

The key to effective video advertising is capturing the viewer’s attention within the first few seconds of play.

Video Advertising

Search Ads

Search ads work by allowing advertisers to bid on specific keywords related to their product or service. The ads then appear in various placements depending on which platform. For example, if you use Google Ads, they will appear at the top of SERPs in Googles search engine. They can be highly effective for advertisers who want to drive sales to their website because there is intent behind a users search.

Email Ad Formats

Email ads are defined as “ads that appear within email inboxes.” These ads work by popping up within an inbox, and they are highly effective because marketers can use email data to determine which campaign should be targeted at which person.

So there you have it, a quick guide to various programmatic ad formats.

As a bonus, let’s also take a look at some of the targeting methodologies you can apply across these formats to reach your audience efficiently, reducing advertising costs and increasing your ROI.

Programmatic Remarketing

Remarketing ads are defined as “ads that show up when a user browses the web after having visited a brand’s website.”

The key difference between remarketing ads and other types of ads is that remarketing ads are designed specifically to target people who have already visited a site or product before.

This makes remarketing great for eCommerce sites, as they can show follow up ads with personalized offers and discount codes to people who have browsed but not yet completed a purchase.

Remarketing works by analyzing the browser history on a site and then displaying related ads based on the information it finds.

Programmatic experts will generally plan a spend allocation of 10-20% of the total campaign to this targeting strategy.

Contextual Programmatic

Contextual ads are defined as “ads relevant to the context of the website in which they are placed”.

The content on the webpage determines the context of the website. This targeting strategy can be used across display, native, text and video advertising formats.

Contextual advertising has become popular for its efficiency and ability to generate accurate results for advertisers. Contextual advertising is also GDPR compliant because it is a form of online marketing that does not require any personal data to be transferred.

Since the context of the webpage only triggers the ad, no personal data is transmitted to either party, which means that it does not fall under GDPR.

Contextual advertising has become increasingly popular because it provides users with ads relevant to their interests and needs. Contextual advertising is expected to grow in popularity because of its efficiency compared with other online programmatic formats.


IP-targeted ads are defined as “ads targeted to a specific location based on IP address.” IP-targeting works by collecting data from the user’s computer or device IP.

IP targeting is widespread in B2B marketing, where you want to target a specific company list. They are an efficient way to reach target account lists (TALs) great for driving cost-efficient lead generation.


Geo-targeting allows advertisers to choose the region of the world in which their ads will be shown.

The advantage of using geo-targeted ads is that advertisers are able to show the ad only to the people in their location. For example, if an advertisement for a restaurant is displayed on to someone based in New York City, it cannot be seen by anyone else in the world.


So there you have it, a simple breakdown of the various formats and targeting methodologies.

If you’re looking for a digital marketing agency that can help with your campaign strategy and execution, we’d love to talk.

At Advant Technology, our agency team of experts is ready and waiting to partner with you to create an effective format strategy or marketing plan that drives sales by considering how your customers think. Our team would be happy to provide more information about what we do best: creating successful programmatic advertising campaigns.

Contact us today if any questions come up during this process – we’re here to answer them all!

Extra reading:

Programmatic ads definition

Let’s begin with a quick definition of programmatic, which is defined as “ads purchased programmatically through software automation it can be purchased via real-time bidding (RTB) or programmatic direct”.

Programmatic ads use technology to decide where, when and even how much they should be shown to the viewer based on the advertiser’s criteria set by the agency that manages the campaign.

Did you know that programmatic advertisements became popular with publishers because they allowed for increased revenue and better optimization of display advertising space?

Benefits and features of programmatic advertising

Programmatic advertising is good for both buyers and sellers because it helps them know what they are doing. Marketers no longer have to use guesses since using data to make decisions is good. Advertisers can also reach people who are on their mobile phones more quickly than advertisers can on computers.

Let’s dive into some quick tips which apply no matter the advertising format.

Set your objective

For example, are you launching a new product or service which you want to raise awareness for? Or do you have an existing product/service that needs to re-engage with its consumers because it is being outsold by the competition?

Set your ad spend budget

When planning where you will spend your advertising dollars, you need to make sure you are spending a sufficient amount per channel so you can test the channel/platform or programmatic ad format properly.

A programmatic agency will help you plan a reasonable budget per platform.

It’s important to balance your budget and make sure that the media/channel you are using can deliver on the ROI required for your campaign – this is where researching before starting an advertising campaign will help.

Programmatic DSPs Demand Side Platforms

There are many DSPs to choose from; some DSPs only offer display, whilst others will provide a full range of formats from programmatic audio ads to good old banner ads. Note, enterprise-level DSPs usually have a monthly fee of about $10,000 USD, which equates to $100,000 in ad spend, although this varies from DSP to DSP.

Know the target audience

Knowing whom you are targeting, what’s important to them and where they are spending their time online is key if you want your advertising campaign to be ROI-driven. Think about what channels are popular with the people who fit your target audience.

Think about the creative

Think about the context of the product you are selling. Do people need to see it visually, or perhaps they only need to hear about it? A programmatic audio ad on the likes of Spotify could be more efficient.

Maybe a combination of the two will create the most significant impact, the highest brand awareness and the most sales.

Programmatic advertising costs

Bigger impact formats like desktop skins and pre-roll video are obviously more expensive than display ads, which are less likely to garner a user’s attention, so think about this trade-off when considering what formats will deliver the biggest bang for your buck!

Unlike search and many social platforms, most programmatic display ads are not sold on a pay-per-click instead, they are sold on a cost-per-impression model (CPM).

You need to consider the effective CPM, the total media cost, any additional DMP fees, and ad tech fees when buying ad space.

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