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Display Advertising – Flash Ads vs. Static Ads


The science of online marketing is pretty simple: you need to be seen to sell cars.

The average web user only spends about 5% of their time on search engines, but up to 47% of their time browsing websites in the Display Network (websites that host display advertising).

That means display advertising can give you up to nine times more exposure than search engine advertising alone.

There’s just one problem. People hate ads! They’re faced with a barrage of online advertising from every which way, and even if they don’t already have AdBlock installed, you will still have to fight through the ranks of other online display ads just to get yours seen.

So, what is the best way to make your display ads stand out? Is it better to use static image-based display ads, or make use of rich media ads like Flash? The Google Display network lets you choose from a number of ad types including the following:

  • Text Ads (like those on the Search Network)
  • Image Ads
  • Flash (.SWF files) and Animated (.GIF) Ads


Rich Media Ads

People are like cats (well, kind of)! Moving things catch their attention. Put an animated ad beside a static one, and see for yourself which one catches your eye. Animated ads also give you up to 30 seconds to get your message across, which can give you more freedom than the limited space of a static ad.


Rich media ads, when done well, will definitely help you stand out from most static ads out there.

Rich media display ads come in a number of forms, but two of the most common types are Flash and animated GIFs.


  • Interactive features (like animated buttons, fly-outs, and audio)
  • 20 frames per second
  • Larger file size
  • Not compatible on all mobile devices **

** Flash is not supported for iPhone or iPad users (unless they use a paid app to get around this issue). But don’t give up just yet: there’s an option in AdWords to convert Flash ads to HTML5 so ads can be viewed on iPads.


  • No interactive features
  • 5 frames per second
  • Generally smaller file size than Flash
  • Compatible with most mobile devices

How do you choose between flash ads and GIFs? If you’re looking to target mobile users, then GIFs are most widely supported. If you are targeting desktop users, then Flash may be the better option as it has more features and a flashier look (pun fully intended).

View Google’s requirements and stipulations for the different types of Display Network ads before getting started on your design.

Static Ads, Flash Ads, or GIFs – Which Is Better?


Static ads (usually JPEG images) are the most common display ads because they are the easiest to make. Using Google’s Display Ad Builder, even a novice graphic designer can create image ads in minutes. If you’re short on time or resources, a static display ad can be an effective option.

What about flash vs GIFs? Compared to other forms of rich media ads, advertisers use flash ads almost three times more often.


While they take more time and effort to create than a text ad or a standard image ad, Flash ads are worth the investment. They give you more freedom to be creative, and more ways to advertise your message to the public.

Bottom line: flashy ads—like flashy cars—catch your customers’ attention. Feel free to experiment with different forms of display ads, and see what works best for you.

Contact us if you have questions or want more tips on how to advertise on the Google Display Network.

Google Ads, Google Display Advertising Network, PPC Glossary Terms

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