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Top 5 Programmatic Advertising Formats

Programmatic advertising has created a sophisticated and automated ecosystem that streamlines the buying and selling of ads and ad space. It’s quickly become one of the most preferred ways of running campaigns, offering a broad yet targeted reach and excellent results.

In this article, we’re going to look at the top six programmatic ad formats:

  • Display
  • Video
  • Social
  • Audio
  • Native

These are the six most commonly used ad formats in programmatic advertising, and we’re going to give you a brief explanation and example of each.

Display Ads

Display ads can refer to almost any kind of visual advertisement. However, in programmatic advertising, only those displayed in the header, footer, or sidebar are considered display ads. These advertisements are typically static or minimally animated images.

Display ads generate revenue from clicks and impressions. Here’s an example of display ads in the header and sidebar from Softonic: 

Video Ads

Video is one of the most consumed digital content types, with almost 61% of people watching more than five hours each day1. Video ads account for 47.5% of programmatic ad spend in the US, or around $27.23 billion.

Unsurprisingly, both publishers and advertisers consider video advertisements as one of the preferred ad formats. There are two types of video ads:

  • In-stream advertisements appear in the video player.
    • Pre-roll advertisements appear before the video.
    • Mid-roll ads run in the middle of the content, interrupting the viewing experience.
    • Post-roll advertisements display once the video has ended.
  • Out-stream advertisements appear within the article content or as popup videos.

Here’s an example of an out-stream video ad from gHacks, one of the Softonic programmatic advertising client sites: 

Social Ads

Social media platforms are continually gathering data about their users to enhance their ad targeting capabilities. Programmatic advertising uses the data to determine:

  • Who should see the ad
  • Which ad format to use
  • Ideal ad length
  • Frequency caps

In turn, the data help advertisers optimize their ad spend.

Audio Ads

Audio ad formats are rapidly growing in popularity in the programmatic advertising space. The ads can be inserted into almost any audio content like digital radio broadcasts, music-streams, and podcasts.

Currently, only a few networks offer audio ad formats, but the number is expected to grow as the technology to facilitate these advertisements evolves and becomes more readily available.

Native Ads

Native advertisements can appear almost anywhere on a site or application. According to a study by Sharethrough, people tend to view native ads 53% more than display advertisements, and they typically result in an 18% increase in purchase intent2. Here are a few other interesting statistics:

  • 77% of users don’t see native ads as advertising.3
  • Native ads get 53% more views than other traditional methods.4
  • Native ads’ click-through rate is 40x that of classic display ads.5

Here’s an example of a native ad from one of our Softonic clients,


Programmatic advertising covers a broad spectrum of platforms and ad formats, appealing to publishers and advertisers alike. When you’re preparing to monetize your site or blog, make sure that you consider different formats and pick those that’ll suit your website and audience.






Alba is a Yield & Operation Manager at Softonic. Alba is responsible for all yield & revenue related operation matters for rev·amp. She is involved in pricing strategy, new initiatives, analysis and optimizations to push revenue sustainably.
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