Looking today, AdExchange offers 79 different ad technologies, which roughly correspond to different ad experiences. That’s a lot! In reality, ads fall into a handful of rough categories. Some ads blur the edges.

Banner / Display Ads

The granddaddy of them all, banner ads are almost as old as the internet. Also know as display ads, these are very traditional and are the backbone of almost every publisher’s strategy. Rates are often low.

Image Banner
This ad does nothing! It’s just a plain old JPG, GIF or PNG file.

Flash Banner
These are on the way out. As of September 2015, Chrome is auto-pausing “non-essential” Flash in favor of HTML 5. Some advertisers are still running flash ads, but it’s going away fast.

HTML5 Banner
The content of the ad is HTML (that is, literally a webpage). Using a combination of HTML/CSS/Javascript, it’s possible to create static banners, animations, and interactive ads (for example, surveys).

Video Ads

There are two main types of video ads:

Pre-roll video
These are the ads you see at the beginning of a Youtube video. If your site produces original video, you can setup your own video player to run pre-roll ads. These are very hot right now and command premium rates. Mid-roll and other “in video” ads fall under the same category.

In-feed video
These are video ads that appear in the middle of a article or blog post.


These are the ads that appear below an article or in the sidebar. Usually featuring 6-12 stories, often with outrageous headlines and photos. Widgets typically pay on a cost-per-click (CPC) basis, meaning that the publisher only gets paid when a usually actually clicks.

Native Ads

The term “native advertising” means different things to different people. On this website, we will use Native Ads to refer to ads that mimic the style of the website to look like editorial content. There are two other definitions you’ll hear frequently. Some people refer to Sponsored Posts as native and some people refer to In-Feed Video as native ads. I don’t love these alternative definitions, but you will encounter them, so just make sure everyone is talking about the same thing.


This is when the normal background of a webpage has been replaced with a large ad. These are usually highly customized and often require coordination between the advertiser and site’s web developer. There’s a rumor that you can’t do skins with DFP Async tags, but you totally can!

Interstitial / Popup Ads

These ads demand the user’s attention by appearing in the middle of the screen, often with a partially opaque background requiring the user to click a “close” button or wait a certain amount of time before viewing the webpage.

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