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What Are HTML5 Ads and How to Serve Them Code-Free

February 14, 20239 min read
Kate Novatska
Kate Novatska, AdTech Expert
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Is coding required to build a website? Since we have website builders and templates, NO. The same goes for HTML5 animated banners: you don’t have to be a Douglas Crockford to serve these ads on your or your partner’s website.

Remember flash-based ads? In the early days, brands frequently used Flash technology to include animations and interactive elements in their creatives. But these times are long gone, and now HTML5 rules the display advertising world.

Building creatives with HTML5 technology allows you to serve rich media ads, which are known for delivering 267% higher CTRs than regular banners. Animated banners, playables, sliders, skins, and other high-performing formats are based precisely on HTML5.

“Wait, doesn’t HTML5 have something to do with coding, web development, and all of this technical stuff?” — you can ask. Not wrong! It does, but…

But you can create HTML5 ads without knowing how to code (spoiler) as long you use ad format templates to paste your multimedia files into a ready script.

So if you are a brand that wants to increase your CTRs, a website owner who wants to expand your inventory potential, or an ad business that simply wants to earn more, read on. We’ll explore what functionality applies to html5 ads and learn how to serve them code-free.

What Are HTML5 Ads?

First, here’s the boring intro to HTML5 itself, for starters. HTML5 (Hypertext Markup Language) is a coding language developers, and designers use to create web content.

Five in HTML5 mean this is the fifth version of the language, and there are four versions before it. The latest versions help you integrate animations and media into your ads.

From the user's standpoint, HTML5 ads are banners that move. That’s the main perk. They can also sparkle, flash, make sounds, invite you to join the game, or whatever. But they are NEVER static. Otherwise, we’d just use a single image wrapped in a regular ad tag.

How Do HTML5 Banners Work on The Tech Side?

From a technical standpoint, HTML5 ads are containers of files rather than just a single image. A creative comes as a ZIP archive rather than a single image. An archive contains all files that make up a creative plus the HTML5 source code file needed to run a JS script and bring all elements together.

To serve such an ad, you host your ZIP archive on the ad server and place the HTML5 banner code (ad tag) on your website. Once the user visits the website, their browser will trigger the ad tag. The ad server will receive the request and display a relevant HTML5 banner to the user.

Browsers perceive HTML5 ads just as any other HTML5 element on the web page (which are all of them). Any device that renders HTML5 code can render an HTML5 ad. Therefore, they will be displayed to the user in 99.9% of cases, unlike deprecated Flash. I’d leave room for 0.01% to malfunction on the server’s side.

Why and Where to Use Them: Benefits of HTML5 Ads

The simple “why” objection? This is 267% higher CTRs for advertisers and 3x higher revenue for publishers (duh, more clicks cost more money).

The simple answer to “where”? Everywhere on the page or in-app, just don’t overuse animated elements; they can compromise user experience.

Now, let’s move on to HTML5 vs. regular banners comparison and a more detailed overview of HTML5 ads benefits for publishers and advertisers.

HTML5 Banners vs. Static Banners Comparison

You didn't start reading the article from this point, did you? Classic banners are still a good option if you don’t want to overload the page with animations.

For example, publishers might refuse to serve more than two animated banners or videos per page for user-friendliness. Static in-feed banners can be served in much larger quantities, especially if they pass as native-looking content.

If you have only banners, it’s easier to convince users not to use ad blockers on your website and therefore collect more coins.

Despite the common myth, most advertisers still choose regular banners over HTML5 ones. Why? Not every campaign is aimed at clicks and conversions: some brands crave awareness first and only afterward retarget users with more tailored ads. Static banners are cheaper to serve and are non-demanding in terms of design.

The HTML5 team has much more to offer, though. Except for flexibility in terms of placement and distribution, HTML5 technically allows you to

  • Possibility to embed animation, audio, clickable buttons, etc., into a banner;
  • Responsiveness according to the platform or screen size of viewers (although responsive banners can do so, too);
  • Track more actions happening while the user interacts with your ad and therefore getting richer analytics.

Benefits of HTML5 Creatives for Advertisers

HTML5 display profits brands primarily in terms of performance. Let’s see how else it may help to take your ad serving to the next level.

Higher CTR and Conversions

Animated banners naturally attract more attention than static images. Statistically, HTML5 creatives deliver 267% higher CTRs than static banners, while 86% go unnoticed and not even seen by the user. Conversely, rich media ads, aka HTML5, are 66% viewable.

HTML5 banners vs. static banners.

As I mentioned, you can track more than just CTR with HTML5 advertisements. These actions in-between clicks and conversions can be scrolls, video or audio played to completion, game engagements, and more.

Freedom for creativity

HTML5 ads can be anything, so you can create an interactive experience for your audience by adding video, pics, and sounds.

All devices and browsers covered

HTML5 ads are compatible with every device, operating system, or browser. They are responsive banners by default and adapt to the user’s screen dimensions, providing the most pleasant experience with your ad.

Dynamic content optimization

Unlike static ads with the same content, HTML5 allows you to use data and respond to the ever-changing needs of your audience. Thus, your creativity may change, shuffling some elements depending on the user persona in front of them.

The most obvious example of dynamic content optimization is e-commerce ads, where you see different products based on your search history. Marketplaces collect contextual targeting data and serve hyper-relevant ads to users without changing the HTML5 template on the designated placement.

Benefits of HTML5 Ads for Publishers

As for publishers, the main advantage lies on the surface. But let’s see which not-that-obvious benefits website owners can squeeze from HTML5 display.

More revenue from monetization

Yes, still the most obvious one. High-performing creatives triple or even quadruple the amount of cash you receive from the placement compared to static gray mice.

Inventory expansion

Like non-standard video or rich media ads, HTML5 can be served “outside the box.” Instead of using a regular catfish, try an HTML5 one!

No coding skills are required

Even though an HTML5 ad comes as a container and not a single ad, there are a few changes for you. If you use HTML5 templates, you just put the creative file into your ad tag and paste the code with the script into the designated place on your website.

Yep. HTML5 is a coding language, but you don't need to know it to create ads. It's like those guys who can't write down a single note but somehow still play pretty cool music. You know.

Types & Examples of HTML5 Ad Formats

HTML5 ad formats come in the same sizes as regular ones, and there are plenty of them to choose from. Some are far more widespread, just as medium rectangles, while others, such as wallpaper or skin ads, are used only in specific cases. Here is a graph to give you a better idea of which HTML5 sizes performed well in 2022:

Top-performing HTML5 banner sizes

Types of HTML5 ads can vary from common pushdowns to purely unconventional units with chaotic animations. It all boils down to the advertiser’s creativity and the publisher’s restrictions on what’s acceptable to serve on their website.

Let’s review three examples of HTML5 ad formats frequently used by our clients.

HTML5 pushdown

This ad appears on top of the page as a thin leaderboard that can be expanded while clicked. In the case of regular pushdown, the ad would be just expanded, and that’s it. In the case of HTML5, the banner can also change its behavior and elements after extension.

HTML5 pushdown ad

Benefits of pushdown vs. regular leaderboard are that it’s non-intrusive in the folded state but draws more attention after being “pushed.” According to Unicast, it brings a 249% higher interaction rate than normal banner ads.

HTML5 catfish

HTML5 catfish is the animated or interactive version of a regular catfish, which appears at the bottom of the page and occupies the entire width of the screen. It’s similar to pushdown, but is non-expandable and takes a different placement.

HTML5 catfish ad

Multi-HTML5 skin

Skin is the ad format you should try to miss. It emerges in the background of the main content and takes the entire space behind it. Skins sometimes are called wallpapers similar to those background images we place on our phones.

Multi-HTML5 Skin ad template

Technically, this template requires multiple images of different sizes to be served; that’s why we have “multi” in its name. HTML5 skins favor movie streaming services and are less frequently used by news portals.

All these formats are supported by Epom ad server. We offer the whole set of our HTML5 templates, starting from the basic plan.

How to Create and Serve HTML5 Ads

The first step here is to create multiple files you are going to use as an HTML5 creative. Your background image, CTA, and animated elements may go separately. There are simple rules to follow while designing these images:

  1. Use concise, readable text using neutral typefaces (for Google, those are Google web fonts);
  2. Create multiple sizes of your images to make an ad responsive;
  3. Save your files at the lowest compression to ensure fast loading time;
  4. Make sure to put your files into an HTML5 archive before uploading them to the platform.

How about animation? Well, for animation, you will need to write a JS script to make the ad move. Or, you won’t? Yes, we promised you that you shouldn’t be Douglas Crockford or even a junior Javascript developer to make this happen. So how, then?

Templates, Carl, templates! These money, time, and neural stem cell savers require you just to upload your masterpiece ad to the platform and make an animated banner out of them. Surely, the animation will always be the same, and you won’t be able to come up with something bizarre, but in practice, simple interactivity is what most brands demand.

As for publishers, all you guys need is to find the right platform that will support these templates and offer your services to advertisers. The same applies to ad networks that have direct publisher partners. Here you generate the ad tag with your ad serving platform, place it on your website, and request the creative from your advertiser. That’s it.

What platform to use for HTML5 banners? Well, here we are biased. You can use the Epom ad server with its 30+ pre-made templates available in all pricing packages. We also develop custom templates on request (so with us, your wild ad-serving dreams can still come true).

Check the full list of Epom ad templates and serve interactive experiences to your audience:

Serve HTML5 Ads

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