Finding the Perfect Ad Format for Your App Category

Ad Format Cheat Sheet: Finding the Perfect Ad Format for Your App Category

A great creative concept can be wasted if it is not run on an optimal ad format. Ad formats are an important part of mobile advertising and can make or break your campaign. Determining the right ad format for a specific campaign means you can focus your marketing efforts wisely.

To know which ad format works best, you should first run all ad formats to your campaign. This lets you cover all bases and gather valuable data that you can use to optimize your mobile advertising campaign. You can compare how your campaign performs across the various different ad formats and then you could focus your budget and efforts to the most optimal ones. 

We at Aarki have gathered data for both Gaming and Non-gaming apps for the following app verticals: Social Casino, Word Game, Hardcore/Midcore, Shopping, Finance, and Travel. We wanted to see which ad format works best for each app vertical, so we can pass on this insight to you for your next mobile programmatic campaign. The ad formats that we have investigated are Native, Video, Display, and Banner.

We looked at the following metrics in our research: 

  • Cost per Install (CPI)
  • Click Through Rate (CTR)
  • Install Rate (IR)
  • Return on Investment (ROI)
  • Retention Rate (RR)

Gaming Apps

Social Casino

The best performing ad format for Social Casino apps is Video, with the highest CTR across the ad formats at 16.7%. It also showed the lowest CPI and had the highest IR and Day 1 RR.

Word Game

Word Game apps have Banner as the best performing CPI, ROI, and CR format. Although Day 1 to Day 21 RR is better in Display, Banner is tied with Display on having the highest RR on Day 30.

Hardcore and Midcore

For Hardcore and Midcore, the best performing format is Banner showing a low CPI at $2.16 compared to the rest of the ad formats at $2.85. Midcore saw a very high ROI with the Banner format at 134.97%. The rest of their metrics were all high ranking. 

Social casino ad sampleWord game ad sampleHardcore app ad sample

Non-Gaming Apps 


For Shopping apps, Banner was the best ad format for this category, followed by Display. The CPIs for those ad formats were $0.66 and $0.44, respectively. 


For Finance apps, Banner ads delivered a very low CPI at $0.01, and a high CR at 48%. Display performed the best among the other KPIs, except that it had the highest CPI at $1.18 (which is still low). Display ranked second across the other metrics and also had the best RR all throughout a 30-day period. 


Travel has Video as the best ad format. It has the highest CPI at $1.42, but otherwise was the best in all other metrics. It has a CTR of 9.64%, a CR of 5.94%, and the best RR throughout 30 days. 

Shopping app ad sampleFinance app ad sampleTravel app ad sample

To summarize, it is seen that for Gaming apps, Word Game and Hardcore/Midcore both have Banner as the best performing ad format. For Social Casino, the best is Video. As for Non-gaming, Banner works the best for Shopping and Finance, then for Travel it is Video. 

It is good to take note that this is a guide, not a set of rules, to help give you insights on what you can consider when planning a mobile programmatic campaign. You could learn more about the different ad formats in our infographic. To know how Aarki can help you optimize your ad creative, shoot us a message here

Topics: Creative Insights