11 Mobile Advertising Types to Improve Your ROAS

Mobile devices have become a primary channel for reaching prospective customers on the go. As the mobile landscape continues to evolve, understanding the different mobile advertising types available is essential for businesses aiming to stay ahead in a competitive market.

Here, we’ll go through the different mobile advertising formats, the importance of mobile ad campaigns, how advertising differs from marketing, and the pros and cons of mobile ads.

Jacqueline Foster
Demand Generation Marketing, Lever.co

We can count on them to bring new ideas to the table consistently

Optimize Mobile ROAS

Importance of Ads for Mobile Devices

It’s no surprise that mobile advertising is at its peak – the number of U.S. adults using mobile devices is only growing. In 2023, 253.3 million U.S. adults are expected to use a mobile phone, increasing from $250.7 million in 2022.

Those are just the statistics for American adults.

More than two-thirds of the global population use a mobile phone, making mobile advertising a simple way to capture an international audience.

These statistics are vital if you’re targeting a specific market. For instance, 98% of Gen Zs own a smartphone. Women also spend more time on their smartphones (two hours and 47 minutes a day) compared to men (two hours and 34 minutes).

Mobile phone use has also become extremely versatile. While users browse on mobile websites, the number of people downloading apps on their phones is increasing. The average person has 80 apps on their phone, making this a profitable advertising opportunity.

Mobile Advertising vs. Mobile Marketing

Those new to advertising on mobile devices may confuse some of these tactics with mobile marketing, but they have distinct differences. In a nutshell:

Mobile advertising is a subset of mobile marketing and focuses specifically on the promotional aspect.

Let’s take a quick look at the differences.

Mobile Advertising

Mobile advertising refers specifically to the use of advertisements that are designed to be displayed on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. These advertisements can take various forms, including:

  • Banner Ads: Displayed at the top or bottom of an app or mobile website.
  • Interstitial Ads: Full-screen ads that appear between different pages or sections of an app or mobile website.
  • Video Ads: Short video clips promoting a product or service.
  • Native Ads: Ads that are integrated into the content and design of an app or mobile website, making them less intrusive.
  • Push Notifications: Messages sent directly to a user’s mobile device, often promoting special offers or updates.

Mobile Marketing

Mobile marketing is a broader term that encompasses all marketing activities that are conducted through mobile devices. This includes not only mobile advertising, but also other strategies such as:

  • SMS Marketing: Sending promotional text messages to customers.
  • App-based Marketing: Creating branded apps or advertising within existing apps.
  • Location-based Marketing: Using GPS technology to send marketing messages to mobile users in specific locations.
  • Mobile Search Ads: Paid ads that appear in mobile search engine results.
  • Mobile Responsive Websites: Designing websites that are optimized for viewing on mobile devices.
  • Social Media Marketing: Utilizing social media platforms that are popular on mobile devices.
  • QR Codes: Using QR codes that can be scanned by mobile devices to provide information or link to a website.

Key Differences

  • Scope: Mobile advertising is a specific form of promotion using ads on mobile devices, while mobile marketing includes a wider range of marketing strategies and tactics.
  • Purpose: Mobile advertising focuses on displaying advertisements to generate awareness or drive sales, while mobile marketing may also include engagement, customer service, brand building, and other objectives.
  • Methods: Mobile advertising uses specific ad formats like banner ads, video ads, etc., while mobile marketing includes various methods like SMS, location-based services, app marketing, and more.

A great example of mobile advertising is Pond’s ad promoting their new Triple Charcoal cleansing technology to consumers in Indonesia:


They used vertical video ads to educate the importance of cleansing the skin. As a result, they:

  • had a 450% CTR increase
  • reached 6.8 million women in Indonesia
  • achieved a 1.5x video completion rate

On the contrary, Starbucks is the master of mobile marketing:


They have a conversion-generating app where customers can pay with the app, earn rewards, and order ahead. According to Starbucks, “digitally engaged customers purchase 2 to 3 times as many products as those that are not digitally engaged.”

Pros and Cons of Advertising on Mobile Devices

Is mobile advertising right for you? While mobile ads can solve many problems in terms of increasing brand awareness and sales, they also come with drawbacks.

Here’s what to expect when investing in a mobile ad campaign:

Mobile Ad Pros

  • Better target specific demographics: This is especially important if you’re trying to attract Gen Zs, women, and audience members in specific countries (notably China, India, the U.S., Indonesia, Brazil and Russia).
  • Reach more users: Since more adults worldwide use smartphones, you have a better chance of reading a wider audience.
  • Excellent conversions: The conversion rate for mobile Google Ads is 3.48% on the search network and 0.72% on the display network. This means your investments will show phenomenal results.
  • More placement opportunities: Brands can advertise on mobile websites and apps. Advertisers also have more options to increase their ad visibility, such as allowing geolocations to consenting users.

Mobile Ad Cons

  • Fraud: Mobile ad fraud was at 0.39% in 2022. Common examples include fake installs, bots, hijacking, device farms, and general bad actors.
  • Privacy: Privacy laws are constantly changing, making it a big obstacle for advertisers. The U.S. has several laws, such as COPPA (Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act). The FTC highlights all mobile ad privacy best practices. Apple also has app transparency features where users can opt out of sharing information with apps.

Learn More: 12 Mobile Advertising Trends You Can’t Ignore in 2023

11 Different Mobile Advertising Types to Include in Your Strategy

There are many types and categories of ads for mobile devices. Here are the 11 best types of mobile ads to include in your strategy.

In-App Ads

In-app ads are one of the most famous mobile ads, and that’s because they’re so versatile.

Social media app ads are the most famous example:


So much so, in fact, that 65% of mobile app ad spend goes to TikTok and Instagram advertising. But users can advertise on any app – including news, shopping, entertainment, fitness, education, banking, healthcare, games, messaging, and more.

And since 90% of mobile use time is devoted to apps, this is an effective way to reach your audience.

Because of the versatility and popularity of mobile apps, brands have a better chance of making their ROI. Even though the average CPM (cost per thousand) on paid social media for Q4 2022 was $6.67, in-app ads generate a CTR of 0.56% globally. Because of these benefits, in-app advertising is expected to grow 10% annually.

Mobile Video Ads

Because the average internet user devotes 33.3% of their time to watching online videos, this is one of the most effective mobile ad types to add to your campaign. There are many types of ads for brands to choose from, depending on the platform.

On YouTube, brands can choose between pre-, mid-, and post-mobile video ads as well as skippable and bumper (meaning you can’t skip them) ads.

On Facebook and Instagram, you can choose in-stream, in-feed, Reels, Stories, carousels, slideshows, and dynamic ads:


TikTok also offers different types of mobile ads, which include in-feed, image, and carousel ads, as well as a branded hashtag, branded takeover, and branded effects/filters.

Interstitial Mobile Ads

These full-screen advertisements are popular on gaming apps and often appear when one opens a game or finishes a level:


Interstitial mobile ads have the highest conversions of all the different ad types, with 20% on Android and 15% on iOS. These ads are effective because users can’t click out of them until after a certain timeframe, and they take up the user’s undivided attention.

While videos are one of the most famous examples, advertisers can use image-only ads, carousels, slideshows, and more – all with text and audio. This type of advertising is also the perfect medium for interactive ads, such as combining this with playable ads (a mobile ad type we will cover in another section).

Rewarded Video Ads

Rewarded video ads are when a user watches an ad to receive a reward:

Google Ad Manager

There are different examples of rewarded video ads. Some users watch video ads to receive compensation. The amount a user receives varies between a few cents to as much as $3 per ad. Some rewarded ads may also offer digital currency or even a free trial of your service.

Rewarded video ads are also popular for gaming. If a user wants to earn an extra life, more points or other benefits, they can opt to watch an ad and receive these gaming rewards.

If you’re making rewarded video ads, there are best practices to keep in mind. First, your video ads should be longer – even as long as five minutes. If users watch a longer ad, they make more money or can access additional benefits, making them likelier to opt to watch long ads. But in cases such as video game rewards, offering them the chance to click out of the ad is still beneficial.

Your ad should be full-screen and tailored to the user based on demographics and interests. You can find this information by researching the game, app or ad platform. For example, the language learning app Duolingo is most used by Americans aged 16-22:

Infographic about Duolingo target audience

But always A/B test your ads to ensure that they convert.

Optimize Mobile ROAS

Playable Ads

Speaking of games, playable ads are another popular example. With these ads, the user can play a scaled-down version of the game before downloading the app.

Royal Match is one of the most common examples:

It is a puzzle game with King Robert as the star of the show. Web users probably spot its ads everywhere – on other games, YouTube videos, and more.

Thanks to its successful advertising campaign, Royal Match has generated over $600 million in revenue and attracted 70 million downloads.

Playable ads aren’t limited to games – this is a broad term for any interactive app, including quizzes, polls, and surveys. When creating playable ads, ensure that they’re full-screen and last about 30 seconds. End the ad with a well-defined CTA.

Mobile Native Ads

Native ads blend with organic content, making them look less like ads. That’s why they are viewed 53% more than display ads.

In a study conducted by Facebook and IHS inc, this ad type attracted 20%-60% more engagement rates. And in a separate study, native ads were found to generate a CTR of 0.33%-0.38%.


Brands also love native ads because they can attract leads at all stages of the sales funnel. Since they generate more engagements and CTRs than display banner ads, brands often choose native ads for their retargeting campaigns.

Thanks to the versatility of online websites and apps, brands have many options when uploading native mobile ads.

These ads are most common on social media since they blend in with organic posts on users’ newsfeeds. They are also a common choice for mobile websites, specifically blogs and news sites.

Advertisers also have limitless options when creating native ads. Mobile native ads can be images and videos, but advertisers also favor creative formats such as out-stream, carousel, and storyboard ads.

Regardless of your chosen medium, your native ads should still be attention-grabbing, tailored to your target audience, and creative. If you’re making native video ads, use captions so users can view the video without sound.

Mobile Banner Ads

Even though native ads have many benefits over display ads, they’re still effective to use in your campaign – specifically mobile banner ads. As the name suggests, they’re an elongated image that promotes your brand or a product/service. Users usually see banner ads on blogs and news websites.

Because they can be a powerful component in your campaign, spending for banner ads is expected to reach $161.80 billion USD in 2023.

There are other benefits of investing in banner ads:

Mobile banner ads easy to create, affordable, and simple to launch.

However, 86% of consumers suffer from banner blindness, meaning most people ignore these ads.

To make sure your banner ads capture attention and generate more conversions, advertisers must use high-quality ad design, place them well, and the ads should ideally appear on appropriate publishers.

Banner ad sizes can also make or break your strategy; Google says the best-performing banner ad size is 300 x 250.

The banner ad in this example links to the Miami-Dade County website, educating its citizens on hurricane preparedness:


The ad copy “Be Prepared” with the hurricane icon reminds Floridians that hurricane season is here. It’s a small banner at the bottom of the screen, so it doesn’t interfere with the recipe from the publisher.

Rich Media Ads

Rich media ads are interactive ads that include multimedia features, such as video, audio, animation or text. They are more engaging than traditional banner ads because, unlike static images, they offer an interactive experience.

The laundry detergent brand Ariel partnered with Eskimi to launch an ad campaign using gamification. Ariel used an animated rich media ad to promote its product: A dirty shirt in which the ad invited viewers to “shoot the germs”:

Ariel rich media ad example by Eskimi

Ads that use both video and audio are the most common example but aren’t the only option that advertisers have. They can also have text, images, GIFs, effects, interactive elements, animations, and more.

Because rich media ads are so versatile, advertisers can use them anywhere. They are perfect to use for interstitial, banner, swipe, and native ads.

Mobile Search Engine Ads

Google popularized the text ad, the type of ad that appears on the top of SERPs.

With PPC search engine ads, advertisers bid on specific keywords for which they want their ads to appear. These ads use cleverly written and keyword-rich copy to entice users to click on the ad rather than organic results:


While there are many search engines where advertisers can post their mobile SERPs ads, Google Ads should be where users turn first. Google has 4.3 billion users worldwide, and it’s likelier that advertisers will attract more brand awareness here than on other search engines.

Is Google Ads effective for brands? Search ads generate an average CTR of 1.91%, so brands can easily convert leads.

Mobile search ads are especially effective for businesses targeting a local audience. 46% of searches include a location, making this mobile ad type an effective for increasing foot traffic.

They are also easy to create. There’s no need to make a video, game, or image ad – all you need are high-performing keywords and compelling ad copy.

SMS and Messenger Ads

As the name suggests, brands send these ads via SMS or messenger apps, notably Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp.

SMS ads have a 5X open rate compared to marketing emails.

Facebook Messenger is an especially effective advertising platform. In April 2023, the number of Facebook Messenger users that marketers could reach increased to 105 million.

There are different types of SMS and Messenger ads that advertisers can create, including:

  • Sponsored messages
  • Click ads
  • Inbox ads
  • Stories ads

Because of privacy laws, SMS and Messenger ads are only available to users in specific regions. Advertisers can’t send Facebook Messenger ads to people in Canada, the U.S., France or Australia. Sponsored ads aren’t available to users in Japan and Europe.

Audio Ads

Audio-only ads are becoming more popular, thanks to music and podcast streaming platforms such as Spotify.

In the first quarter of 2023, Spotify had 515 million active users globally. However, only 210 million users worldwide are on Spotify’s Premium plan, meaning half of their total subscribers use the ad-enabled plan.

Advertisers can reach millions of users by adding Spotify audio ads to their campaigns.

Use These Mobile Advertising Types in Your Strategy

Mobile ads are an effective way to reach a global audience. With more people using their smartphones, you’ll not only increase brand awareness but can place your ads on different platforms.

The mobile landscape is versatile, comprised of different apps and mobile websites. This means there are various mobile advertising types you can add to your campaign to expand your reach. Use a combination of these ads in your mobile advertising strategy to engage your target audience and convert leads.

If you’re looking to level up your mobile ad campaigns, Single Grain’s mobile advertising experts can help!👇

Optimize Mobile ROAS

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