Nigel Roberts

Digital advertising formats come in all shapes and sizes, popping up, out and all over the place. If you don’t know your OTPs from your filmstrips, this is the guide for you.


OTP is an older generic way of describing rich media floating ads, which may be automatically activated and displayed within a predefined area of the page. They are featured on the home pages of sites only and are frequency often capped at two views per user to minimise any impact on the user’s browsing experience.


Banner ads

A general term for traditional online display ads. They come in all shapes and sizes.


A leaderboard is the first to load banner ad, at the top of the page, above the content. They are the first advertisement seen when a user visits a page and are a large, highly visible size. They offer advertisers a great deal of space in a prominent position without intruding on content.



The MREC ad is a highly prominent ad unit that typically sees higher than average click through rates. The MREC is normally located above the fold on the right side of the page.


Peel back

Peel back banners invite users to “peel” a website’s homepage back and reveal the ad underneath. When the page is loaded, the user sees only a small teaser triangle in the corner of the page. Using their mouse, users ‘peel’ the publisher’s page and uncover the ad’s content, which is pretty cool to see.

Peel Back banners give advertisers high visibility and a rich platform to deliver your message. Advertisers can build on the users’ undivided attention to deepen their message with video, animation and other lavish creative.


In-banner video

Videos can be placed in most rich media executions, with a common use being in the MREC banner placement. Video drives 5 times better results than standard or rich media ads, delivering a more engaging user experience and higher ad recall.

Video begins when the ad loads if the video is 30 seconds or shorter. If the video is longer than 30 seconds it is set to a user initiated start. Videos may be interactive with user activated sound, volume, pause, rewind and play functions.



A ‘push-down’ ad is an expanding creative that pushes down the content of a webpage. When the ad expands, the site moves out of the way to display the full creative, which can include video on auto-play. They are normally activated when a user hovers or clicks on the ad.


Billboards are a wide format ad running the full width of the page above the masthead. They engage with users in a Marmite sort of way, you either love the creative and click on it, or you leave it and close it. Rich media content can include maps, coupons, videos or a slider, which allows users to browse through multiple images.



Catfish ads remain on the screen without blocking content as the user scrolls down the page. This ensures that the ad is always in the viewer’s field of vision and is the only item on the page not scrolling.

This ad unit surfaces discretely at the bottom of the viewer’s browser and has an automatic frequency cap of 2 per campaign. It can also expand on rollover for even more exposure.



Sidekick ads are expandable ads as when you click on the collapsed banner, when the ad is clicked, the content of the page is pushed left to make room for the expanded creative. It’s called the ‘sidekick’, as it kicks the content side ways, pretty obvious really. The beauty of the sidekick is that the user doesn’t need to move away from the site, so the publisher also benefits from retaining the user on their page.



Floating ads are rich media ads that appear uninitiated, superimposed over a user-requested page, and then disappear or become unobtrusive after a specific time period (typically 5-30 seconds).


The Filmstrip is a 5 frame position, usually a rich media option that allows the viewer the ability to scroll, click and hover to learn more about the your products and messages. Filmstrips are located at the right hand side above the fold and can be very, very cool.



The windowshade pushdown offers a less intrusive user experience than a conventional expandable, by having the expansion push page content down rather than obscuring it.

This unit starts out as a wide banner ad under the masthead with a call to action to learn more. When clicked, the ad unit expands by pushing the page content down to reveal interactive ad content.


Other old favourites, or not so favourites…


Those annoying ads that appear behind your browser window, only usually visible when you’ve moved, or closed your browser, revealing an ad that you had no idea existed.


A window that launches automatically in front of the current browser window. Again, traditionally quite annoying…


An ad that loads between web pages, requiring a user to look at it before getting to the page they want to visit. Once again, if not a great execution, they can be really annoying…


These generally hated ads appear under video advertising, typically on video channels like YouTube and Vimeo and are shown before the actual video starts. The short duration videos that are generally shown nowadays before the actual video starts are ‘pre-roll’ ads.


Another video channel ad, the overlay ad is a graphical ad in the bottom third of a video that displays while the video plays on top of the video. On clicking the ad, you will be taken to its respective landing page.


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