Rich media ads generally look similar to standard display ads. They are often packaged in the same standard sizes; rich media ads can come in the form of a 728×90 leaderboard or a 300×250 rectangle.
However, when they are served there are more possibilities for engagement than simply a click-through by visitors. For example, rich media ads may allow for a video to start playing when a user clicks a certain section or may expand to provide more information based on user action.
Below is an example of a rich media 300×250 rectangle. Note the “Click to Expand” button that appears within the ad:
When this button is clicked, the ad expands to the right. A video with sound also begins playing within the ad (see also the entry on expandable ads). This ad has two examples of user-initiated interactivity: an expansion to the left and a video embedded within the ad.
Another common use of rich media involves an ad unit expanding to take over the screen if users hover on the ad for a long enough period of time (generally a few seconds). Here’s how this looks while the user is hovering (click on ad to see a more dynamic demonstration):
Again, this high impact takeover is being driven by the user interaction; it only occurs if the mouse remains hovered over the ad for a specified amount of time:
For many more examples of rich media ads, see the link to Google’s gallery full of samples in the Resources section below.
Many rich media ads will allow more in-depth interaction. Whereas most standard text and display ads simply direct visitors to a landing page, rich media ads may be capable of delivering additional information without sending visitors to a third party site.
Advertisers and agencies who use rich media will often measure the success of these campaigns by a metric called engagement rate. Because the advertiser can accomplish their objective without getting visitors to click through to a site, simply measuring the CTR of an ad won’t tell the whole story.
If you’re a publisher who is selling directly to advertisers, you have a couple decisions to make regarding rich media.
The first is whether or not you want to allow rich media ads to appear on your site. For the vast majority of publishers, there is no reason to prohibit rich media. Though the high impact ads can be a bit intrusive, rich media ads only expand via user interaction (meaning that unwanted expansions generally won’t occur).
Implementing rich media ads typically doesn’t require any additional work; in most cases, publishers wouldn’t know whether the third party tags they receive are rich media enabled or not. However, because of the increased value to advertisers there may be an opportunity to charge more.
Many publishers will give advertisers the option to use rich media, and require a premium to the standard non-rich media rates. Below is an example of this; note at the bottom of the rate card the additional fee for rich media: