In Digital Advertising – What is Rich Media and why use it?

What is Rich Media?

Technically Rich Media refers to an ad that contains one or more of the following features:

  • Video
  • Expandable panels
  • Interaction Tracking
  • Polite Loading
  • Floating Effect*

(* Floating ads are sometimes referred to as “Out of Banner “ads, although this phrase has also been coined to describe all types of Rich Media ads in some ad servers)

Why use Rich Media?

As outlined at the tail end of the last section, Rich Media offers Advertisers the chance to make more of an impact with creative that is more engaging for the user than standard Display ads or Search ads. Rich Media is really collaboration between the third party ad server and the Publisher. Implanting a Rich Media ad onto a Publisher website is going to draw user attention towards the ad due to the nature of its animations, in doing so it is possible for ads to be created that completely hide the Publisher’s content. This is where the phrase “out of banner” comes from as some Rich Media ads literally spill out of the space they were designed to fit inside.

Since Rich Media causes a longer loading time on a page and potentially could conflict with the Publisher’s own content and code, the Publisher must be on-board to accept Rich Media before it is inserted into the Media plan for an Advertiser campaign. Typically a Publisher will offer Rich Media at a higher CPM to Advertisers and Agencies for specific ad spots. Ads occupying these spots will need to adhere to set of specifications defined by the Publisher which will have been created to ensure that within the confines of the specifications, the page and the user will not be overtly affected by the engagement with these ads.

At a higher cost of CPM and a bigger drain on the marketing budget for the campaign, one might question how to prove that Rich Media is offering more value than standard display. The answer comes from the possibility of tracking interactions. As detailed in Chapter 5 – Reporting, Rich Media goes beyond impressions, clicks and conversions to provide metrics that explain both what the user is engaging with and for how long. These triggers and timers allow the Advertiser to determine how a user engages with the creative (allowing for improved creative optimization) and provides a new window on effectiveness by looking at “engagement” on interaction as opposed to clicks to assess performance. It is safe to say that when looking into the working parts of a Rich Media ad, there is more complexity than there is for a standard ad which means a greater opportunity for creativity. Greater creative paves the way for awards for creative developers and designers which in turn attract good PR for Advertisers and for Creative Agencies. The most impressive designs eventually become adopted at an industry level and it is thanks to the standardisation of formats by the IAB and collaborating publishers that we now have formats such as the “Rising Star formats” which circumvent the standardisation of Rich Media from becoming too diverse and unmanageable from both a development and testing perspective.

To find out more about the role of Rich Media with Ad Serving Technology, buy a copy of: Ad Serving Technology – Understand the Marketing revelation that commercialized the Internet – available now from Amazon:


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