The World of Online Advertising, Part 3: Common Rich Media Formats

Welcome back to our five-part series on the world of online advertising. Now that we’ve taken a brief look at the types of advertising and the roles involved in the process, let’s delve a little deeper and ¬†discuss some of the rich media formats you may end up using in your advertising efforts. The term you’ll sometimes hear is “rich media,” which basically refers to almost any ad used in a campaign that is more complex than one that only uses a basic image.


For many people, HTML is where it all started. Sure, there were obviously ways to code before its creation, but HTML the process more accessible to the masses. Although it does take some time to learn, it’s fairly easy and almost anything on a webpage can be done in this format. All you gotta do is learn the right HMTL codes. The format is universal, which is perfect for advertisers and publishers since they’ll almost always be able to run your website without any problems. This can be a huge advantage when attempting to grow your business.


Although HTML is still a popular format, the popularity and strength of Macromedia’s Flash format simply cannot be denied. Flash is preferred by many advertisers because it allows for more complex, smoother animations. Another great feature of the format is that it allows website visitors to interact with the ad in some way. These are often designed to be fun little games or whatnot, such as swatting flies on the screen with a flyswatter that appears when your pointer moves over the ad. Hit a couple flies and another website or offer will launch. This type of interaction can help pull customers in, as silly as it may sound.

Expandable Ads

You’ve probably seen these and simply didn’t know what they were called. These ads do precisely as the name suggests — they expand. Using either HTML or Flash, these ads can stretch to a larger size, sometimes even over your entire screen, pushing the page’s content downward in the process. The big advantage of expandable ads is that they allow the ad’s display to be much larger. As you can imagine, this can make for a very effective advertisement and gives the advertiser much more creative control over what appears.

Rollover Ads

These ads are quite effective, but they can also annoy people from time to time. This is because they appear whenever a person rolls his or her mouse over a designated part of the screen, and will cover a portion of the page. As you can imagine, this can be quite intrusive to someone who’s simply trying to read an article or look at pictures on a site. Of course, although some people get annoyed by these ads, the fact that they’re harder to ignore keeps them popular with advertisers.

Floating Ads

These types of ads work by floating over a webpage’s content, which comes with its own pros and cons. On the plus side, these ads are impossible to ignore, so visitors to the site will definitely know what is being advertised. This is one reason why advertisers often love these types of ads. On the other hand, they are even more intrusive than rollover ads, and often have the added annoyance of not going away until you either click on the ad or find the “X” (which is sometimes not easy to locate) in order to close it.

These are the most common rich media formats that you’re likely to deal with in an advertising campaign. Which ones you choose to use on a regular basis is up to you and the person or persons conducting your campaign. Create a strategy, test out different formats, and find the ones that work best for your business.


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