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Rich Media: Definition, Formats and Examples

For any marketing strategy, the most crucial element of success is attracting your target audience.

Let’s accept the fact that these days, buyers are becoming increasingly sophisticated and they do their online research. A report released by the eCommerce-foundation indicates that 88 per cent of consumer pre-research before buying.

Now that’s a considerable number. In such a scenario, marketing professionals need to look out for newer and innovative ways to lure their customers into trying out their products and services. 

For companies that are on a constant lookout for smart options to reach their potential buyers, rich media is an ideal solution for their marketing needs.

Recent trends and examples from leading brands indicate that companies are shifting towards advertising using rich media ads. When compared to traditional forms of advertising, rich media ads are robust in performance and amplify the results expected from advertising.

Studies have shown that when compared to standard banner ads, rich media ads outperform  267% higher.

What are rich media ads?

In simple sense, rich media is any form of digital advertising that includes several interactive elements such as video, audio or others that are specifically designed to encourage user interaction.

Google’s DoubleClick Studio defines this as 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.”

Rich media enables advertisers and marketers to create sophisticated ads that can trigger user response with ease. With the use of HTML5 technology, ads can incorporate several different layers of content in a single placement. 

Since rich media uses several interactive elements for advertising such as audio, video and even live videos-it offers infinite possibilities for advertisers to present their messages in an impactful and believable way.

And why so?  

If you look at the traditional form of advertising, it uses only text, image and flash animation, which offers a lower possibility of interaction with customers.

On the other hand, rich media ad markets have the flexibility to determine the level of complexity and offer exciting ways to engage with their services or products.

In summary, the following are the features of rich media ads:

  • They contain image, video, social media components and various interactive elements.
  • Rich media ads are also called multimedia banners.
  • They blend along with mobile devices, helping a lot in mobile advertising.
  • You could have real-time statistics on the behaviour of your audience.

Standard Banner Ads vs. Rich Media Banner Ads

Standard Banner Ads

Rich Media Banner Ads

Small in file size, quite beneficial when the purpose is only branding. Larger File size
Offers less flexibility to the advertisers Offers high flexibility to the advertisers.
Rich media cannot be incorporated Rich media can be streamlined with technologies such as HTML, Java Script, DHTML etc.
Have only one interaction point. Has many interaction points.
No interactivity Highly interactive.
They have only one pint of interaction They have many points of interaction

Types of rich media ad formats

Although these ads are available in several different formats, let us discuss some of the most common formats that are used by advertisers:

1. Banner ads

Banner ads are usually fixed and most commonly found on web pages.

By incorporating various dynamic elements, it is possible to create highly demanding advertisements. 

Banner ads are easy to create and welcomed by most viewers. This is the sole reason why so many marketers and advertisers are investing in creating banner ads.

Another reason is the affordability, which makes them a favourite choice of advertising for small and medium businesses.


  • Cost per impression-Medium to high
  • Low loading time 

2. Interstitial ads

These are highly interactive and full-screen ads that cover the interface of the website. Interstitial ads are designed to appear at the natural transition points (for websites) or breaks (for gaming ).

Interstitial ads are displayed with a unique blend of image, text, video and audio.

These can either remain in a locked position as the user can scroll on the webpage or maintain a locked position.

Interstitial ads are mostly full screen which gives a better view and leaves no loopholes to ensure that the viewers never miss it.

The locked position helps best to track user behaviours. 

The user can have two options: either to close the ad and proceed further or to click on the ad and reach the corresponding webpage.

Interstitial ads also support HTML-5 elements and banner videos.


  • Cost per impression-Medium to high
  • Viewability-High

3. Pushdown ads

Unlike the other forms of rich media ads, push down ads won’t expand in size. 

The ad will appear as a teaser on the webpage. Interested users can click or hover the mouse on top of it. By doing so, the ad will push down the webpage content to display it fully.

The main advantage of this ad is that it does not hide the content of the webpage and, therefore, generates more ad views.


  • Cost per impression- High
  • Viewability- High
  • Loading time- High

4. Multi-directional expanding ads

The multi-directional format is relatively new in the advertising world. 

This type of ad expands as per its position on the web page.

If the ad is placed on the right side of the page, it will automatically expand towards the left side when a user clicks on it or vice versa.

As these types of ads are relatively new, there is not much demand for it yet within the market.


  • Cost per impression-High
  • Viewability-High

5. Lightbox ads

Lightbox ads are an innovative form of display advertising that was introduced by Google Display Network (GDN) in 2013.

This is an ideal option when you are actively pursuing customer engagement. They help to grab customer attention with multiple images, videos or a combination of both.

How this works is quite impressive. 

The user sees a small ad initially. This can be expanded either by hovering or clicking on it.

In the next stage, the entire screen is dimmed, and a lightbox appears, showing the full ad that the user can interact with. 


  • Cost per impression-High
  • Viewability-High

Why are rich media ads important?

1. Enhanced interaction rate

Over the years, marketers have learned that when it comes to uplifting brand awareness, interactive ads work the best. Besides, it helps in allowing instant data capture, purchase intent and message association.

By providing a more engaging and interactive experience, marketers can effectively capture the attention of users.

2. Large space

Banner ads often have limited space to display your messages. The main problem with static ads is that they are allowed only one frame, which will be even smaller when viewed through a tablet or a mobile screen.

Rich media ads, on the other hand, lets marketers advertise on a larger scale no matter what device is used. 

Here, advertisers have the flexibility to integrate two or more media functions to enhance the viewer experience.

3. Raise Brand Awareness

You might have come across the term banner blindness. This is a phenomenon which causes visitors to subconsciously ignore any banner-like information displayed on websites.

Advertisers are always trying to overcome banner blindness by using rich and fun-filled banner ads to engage with customers.

Since rich media ads are relatively new, customers take close notice of it the moment it appears on the screen. This could significantly impact their buying decision.

4. Greater customer engagement


Source: eMarketer

Rich media is a fantastic way of engaging with customers. Why it is so unique when compared to other types of ads is because of the fact that it has all the essential elements incorporated to elicit customer engagement.

5. Better user analytics

With static ads, advertisers don’t have many options to gain insights into customers’ likes and dislikes.

Click-through rate (CTR) was the only factor they could use and track user behaviour.

On the other hand, rich media ads offer a wide range of analytics for the marketer to track and analyze to gain significant insights into the customers’ likes and dislikes.

Various aspects such as video and audio plays, plus different types of interactions can be analyzed and tracked with ease.

6. Fast-paced and attention-grabbing

With the extent of options and content available on the internet, it comes as no surprise that users these days have a short attention span.

This means advertisers and marketers have to work extra hard to create catchy and interactive advertisements that are good enough to hold the viewer’s attention in this ever-changing and fast-paced environment.

This sheds light on the importance of including video content. 

In the age of faster internet, interactive video content is becoming one of the surest ways to interact with the customers.

With so many video sharing sites such as YouTube, Daily motion and so on, video ads are an excellent way to gain user engagement.

7. Great in performance

When it comes to conversion rates, rich media ads outperform the standard ads at a higher level. 

The graph below shows their performance in the year 2014


Source: Statista

As is often noticed, these ads are so exciting that customers are more likely to take a positive action after viewing it. Studies have shown that the conversion rates are five times greater than standard ads.

Also, it has much higher click-through rates and view-through rates.

8. No restriction in creativity

The good thing about rich media ads is that there are almost endless types of formats that brands can use. Advertisers have complete freedom to use their creativity to produce stunning ads to promote their products and services.

9. Suits a wide range of audience

The internet has made its way to audiences belonging to all age groups and categories. In today’s global market whereby competition is exceptionally high, advertisers need to tailor their ads to specifically to suit a particular class of audiences.

For example, with rich media ads, you could custom create unique ads for teenagers and older adults.

10. Impactful and have a higher click rate.

When compared to ordinary static ads, rich media has a higher click rate. This means that you will be gaining more conversions.

These fun-filled and interactive ads are quick to grab customer attention which means you are bound to receive more clicks.

11. Improved user experience

The strategy of using rich media ads is that it does not force the customer to leave the site. On the other hand they make the customer willingly interact with the content by providing a pleasant experience.

For marketers and site owners, this is a good thing as the amount of time the user spends on their site will be much longer which is a determining factor for search engines to rank a site. 

12. Improved tracking

These ads have all the necessary tools to enable enhanced tracking. Advertisers have the flexibility to view advanced user statistics which was not possible before.

For example, with the tracking feature, you could know how many people watched your video ads and up to what duration of time.

Measuring the performance of rich media ads

The essential advantage of using these ads is that they come with specific metrics for marketers and advertisers to evaluate the results of their efforts.

Some of these include:

1. Impressions

This corresponds to the number of times your ad is displayed on a webpage. Do keep in mind that an impression does not mean that the visitor has actually seen the advertisement.

Presence of ad blocker and superimposition of one ad by the other could sometimes give a false alert.

Although this doesn’t hold much value, it helps to calculate other metrics that are helpful.

2. Engagement Rate

It is the percentage of interactions per impression of the ad unit. Engagement rate is calculated by the formula.

Engagement Rate=(Number of Interactions/Total Impressions)x100%.

3. Reach

This corresponds to the number of people that your ad managed to reach. The reach number will be lower when compared to impressions because your ad will also be shown multiple times to the same person.

4. Display time

This corresponds to the average time the ad is visible on the web page.

5. Interaction time 

This is the average time that the audience spends engaging with the ad.

6. Interaction rate

This is very helpful in determining the user engagement rate. Interaction rate is the percentage value of users engaging with the ad.

7. Dwell rate

This measures the percentage of rich media impressions that users are intentionally engaged with through touch, interactions, or click.

Dwell duration is the length of time that the user remains exposed to the ad after the first engagement.

8. Expansion rate

This corresponds to the ratio of ad expansions to the total number of ad impressions. 

9. Average time of viewing

This refers to the average length of play when compared with the total period of play.


Views mean the number of times people watched your rich media ads.

11. View Rate

It shows the number of engagements that your video ad received divided by the total number of times your ad is shown.

12. Mutes, rewinds, pauses and closes

This is available in some of the rich media tracking systems. It tracks the user actions while the video was played such as mute, pause, rewind and close.

13. Completions

This refers to the finished rate of the videos.

14. Conversions

This refers to the course of actions that you want the visitors to take when they see your ads. Some of the examples of conversion are: Sign up for a newsletter, download a white paper, sign up for an event and so on. 

15. Conversion Rate

This corresponds to the number of visits that resulted in the desired conversion, expressed as a percentage.

Conversion Rate = Total conversions/visitsx100.

If you have more than one conversion action to perform, you need to perform this calculation for all the actions combined and for individual actions as well.

16. Cost per conversion

This is the total cost divided by the number of conversions obtained through the display ads.

17. Revenue

This is the total revenue that is attributed directly to the visits coming from display advertising.

18. Revenue per visit

It is calculated as the total revenue generated from ads divided by the total visits.

9 Classic examples of rich media

1. Intel

Intel introduced its new laptop to customers by using advanced 3D technology.

One unique feature of their laptop was that it is extremely thin and therefore by the aid of 3D technology they were able to make sure that their users got a real time, first hand experience of the dimensions.

Besides, they also used 360° video in their ad campaign that showed the users various features of their laptop.

With this ad campaign intel was able to achieve a stunning 413,000 consumer visits to the site. 

2. Narcos (Netflix)

Back in 2016 when Netflix came out with a new crime series, they used a  “blow-activated” ad unit to promote their show.

As soon as the phone’s microphone detected a blow, a hidden animation jumped into the screen introducing the viewers to the new show. 

Netflix used almost 100 variations of this to promote their show.

3. Bates Motel (A&E)

A&E came up with a very innovative way to promote season 3 of Bates Motel. Advertisers just pushed their limits by using 100 different cameras to capture Norma and Norman’s Season 3 that was completely transformed to life, viewable at 360°.

Viewers were stunned to see the ad jumping out of the banner in the middle of the screen in a way which they couldn’t imagine.

As a result of this innovative ad campaign, A&E saw a 49%  hike in the new users.

4. Trolls

If you watched the 2016 animation film trolls, you know what we’re going to say. 

DreamWorks Animation studio launched over 550 ads on different mediums over 36 different global markets as a part of their ad campaign. 

Their unique and vibrantly coloured ads were a huge success in gathering audiences from across the globe.

The film grossed $346 million worldwide.

5. Harley Davidson

As a part of their mission to introduce a series of new bikes, Harley Davidson created their custom-designed ads that walked the customers right through their new models.

Coupled with rich user experience, their ad creative invited viewers to click on and see for themselves what the company wanted to present.

The campaign was a huge success, earning a 9.9% mobile CTR.

6. Sally Hansen

Ever thought of an idea where you could try out different nail polishes without actually visiting a fashion store.

Interesting right?

To make sure that their customers had a virtual experience of using their newly released nail polish, Sally Hansen created interactive ads with AR technology that allowed each user to use their phone camera to try out different shades of nail polish in real-time.

The ad campaign was a huge success, earning them a CTR of 0.08%.

7. Sonic

As a part of their summer deal, Sonic offered ice cream slushes and shakes after 8pm.

To make sure that their customers came to know about it, what the company did was something very unique.

They created an interactive ad which uses a timer to provide a count down until it is precisely 8pm. At the exact time, the banner would alert the user.

The ad also used an interactive button which enabled the viewer to locate the nearest shop.

The ad campaign earned a CTR of 6.6%.

8. Infiniti

Infiniti launched it’s 360° ads that provided users with an experience of test-driving their cars in a virtual environment.

For users who are car crazy, this ad helped them to gain a fantastic experience.

9. Truth

To raise public awareness of the dangers of smoking among the youngsters, Truth launched a campaign using interactive ads that warned people about the possible effects and risks of smoking.

The campaign revolved around the principle that second-hand smoke could lead to cancer in cats.

Bottom Line

In this fast-growing internet era, advertisers have concluded that they need to focus on user experience to the same extent that they care about revenue.

While the traditional form of advertising focuses on words and graphics, rich media ads explore the next level of advertising, creating user engagement and interactive content.

As more and more video ads are flooding the internet, the popularity of these ads has completely redefined customer expectation to a greater extent.

Although we cannot completely say that it will fully overshadow traditional advertising, the future looks bright for rich media ads.