File size is usually not the first property that comes to mind when creating banners for a display ad campaign.
That is until you reach the publishing point.
All ad networks have limitations in place or at least file size recommendations that you must follow to upload your assets successfully.
But there’s more to file sizes than an imaginary kilobytes line that you must not cross.
They can actually help you harvest more impressions and increase your campaign’s overall performance.
Stick with me as I walk you through how display ad file sizes are measured, why they matter, and which are the recommended file sizes for the most popular ad networks.
How Is Display Ad File Size Measured?
Let’s start with the basics.
If you’re familiar with the file size units of measurement, feel free to jump straight to the part about why display ad size matters or check the standard display ad banner sizes.
File size, also known as file weight, represents the amount of space a file takes up on a storage medium like a computer hard drive or a server.
It is measured in bytes and larger units that we get by adding metric prefixes like “kilo-”, “mega-”, “giga-”, and so on.
The most common units of measurement are:
- 1 B (byte) = 1 byte
- 1 kB (kilobyte) = 1.000 bytes
- 1 MB (megabyte) = 1.000 kB or 1.000.000 bytes
- 1 GB (gigabyte) = 1.000 MB, 1.000.000 kB, or 1.000.000.000 bytes
- 1 TB (terabyte) = 1.000 GB, 1.000.000 MB, 1.000.000.000 kB, or 1.000.000.000.000 bytes
You’ll mostly be seeing the first four units of measurements when dealing with display ads file sizes, as they are usually not large enough to be measured in GB or TB.
Make sure you don’t confuse display ad file size with pixel size (commonly known simply as size), as the latter refers to the width and height of our display ad visuals expressed in pixels.
Let’s take the display banner below as an example. Its size is 300 x 250 pixels while its file size is 49 kB.
If you want to check for yourself, save the file onto your computer and do the following depending on your operating system:
- Windows: Right click on the file -> go to Properties -> Details tab -> See image dimensions for pixel size and file size.
- macOS: Select the file -> ctrl + click -> Get Info -> Look for size under General and dimensions under more info.
Now that we’ve established they are not one and the same, let’s talk a bit about the relationship between the two.
A decrease in pixel size causes a drop in file size. Let’s take a 970 x 250 pixels display ad of 109 kB.
Now let’s resize it to, let’s say, 530 x 137 pixels, maintaining the same ratio.
Our resized image has a file size of only 38.4 kB.
However, this is a guaranteed result only in the case of a resize.
If you have two different display ads and one of them happens to be smaller in pixel size than the other, it does not mean it automatically has a smaller file size too.
Other factors at play could influence the outcome, like the type of digital assets you use to create the banner.
Check out these two JPG display ads. We have a 120 x 240 vertical banner of 32.5 kB on the left, and on the right, a 300 x 250 medium rectangle of 27.9 kB.
Although smaller in pixel size, the vertical banner has a larger file size than the medium rectangle due to more creative assets being used for its creation.
The type of display ad file format also affects the amount of storage space it uses, hence the file size.
I exported this Creatopy banner in two different file formats to see how this variable influences file size.
Even though the two banners are identical in pixel size and are made up of precisely the same digital assets, the PNG version on the left resulted in a 7.70 kB file size, and the JPG version on the right resulted in a 22.6 kB file size.
Why Display Ad File Size Matters
Display ad files are temporarily downloaded on the users’ computers when they open a web page, so the heavier the files, the longer it will take to load that web page.
For instance, if there are five large file size display ads on a web page, the loading time will grow significantly.
Users expect a website to load quickly, so some of them might not wait for the page to be displayed, and you’ll lose impressions.
To ensure your ads render before the scroll and users get to the point of clicking, you must keep your ads’ file sizes on the smaller side to reduce the loading time.
Moreover, Google favors websites with faster loading times in search results rankings, which further increases the chance of your display ads being seen by more people.
But how big is too big?
This question puzzled advertisers and prompted ad publishers to set some restrictions regarding the standard file size of the display ads they accept.
Besides, a set of universally accepted standards for display ad file sizes was created by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB).
IAB Standard Banner Sizes
The IAB is an organization that supports online advertising by developing technical standards and best practices for the industry.
Their New Ad Portfolio comprises official guidelines for display advertising meant to improve the advertising experience across multiple platforms.
Note that the initial load refers to the total of files the browser requires for the initial ad display.
Subload, also known as host-initiated subload, is the additional file size the browser loads in the background.
For example, if the maximum file size for the initial load is 50 kB, anything between 50 kB and the max for subload is downloaded in the background. At the same time, the ad is already being displayed.
Fixed Size Ad Specifications
|Ad unit Name||Fixed Size (px)||Max. K-Weight (kB)|
|Smartphone Banner||300×50 or 320×50||50||100|
|Mobile Phone Interstitial||640×1136 or 750×1334 or 1080×1920||300||600|
|Feature Phone Small Banner||120×20||5||N/A|
|Feature Phone Medium Banner||168×28||5||N/A|
|Feature Phone Large Banner||216×36||5||N/A|
Flexible Size Ad Specifications
|Ad Unit Name||Ad Size||Size Range||Max. K-Weight (kB)|
|Min. Size||Max. Size||Initial Load||Subload|
|Smartphone Banner||300×50, 320×50||300×50||450×75||50||100|
Google Ads Recommended Display Ad File Size
Being the most popular ad network on the market, Google Ads has its own specs for display ads.
|Ad type||Ad size (px)||Max. file size (kB)|
|Static ads||Animated ads*|
|Large mobile banner||320×100||150||150|
*The recommended file size for HTML5 display ads is 150 KB or smaller.
If you’re interested in finding more about standard display ad sizes, you can read this article on the top performing banner ad sizes for Google ads.
File Size Requirements for Different Ad Networks
|Ad type||Ad size (px)||Max. file size (kB)|
|Static ads||HTML ads|
|Billboard||970×250, 800×250 (Germany only)||200|
|Mobile Detail and Search Results page||414×125||100|
|Mobile Medium Rectangle||300×250||40|
|Mobile Leaderboard (Tablet)||728×90||200|
See Amazon’s desktop ad specifications and mobile ad specifications for more details.
|Ad type||Ad size (px)||Max. file size (kB)|
|Aol Mail Send Confirm||1200×800||200|
|Mobile Interstitial||640 x 960||300||600|
For detailed recommendations go to Yahoo Ad’s specifications page.
How to Reduce the File Size of Your HTML5 Display Ads
Some HTML5 ads may need larger file sizes to be displayed properly. While optimizing image display ads is simply a matter of compressing the files, HTML5 ads are a different story.
Let me share some tricks you can apply to get your HTML5 banner file size to where you want it.
- Replace PNG or JPG files with SVG ones because they have smaller file sizes and render faster;
- If you stick with JPG or PNG images, compress them using a tool like Tinypng, which preserved image quality;
- Remove unnecessary assets like images, shapes, or text, if need be, because every element you use for your banner adds to the file weight.
- Go for a simpler animation that uses simple movements and fewer transitions.
That being said, there’s a much easier way to ensure your display ad file size is the right one, regardless of file format.
Creatopy’s Ad Serving feature allows you to publish ads of any file size and format on 24 ad platforms, including Google Ads, Adform, Epom, Roku, Simpli.fi, and Xandr.
Curious how it helps you bypass file size limitations? It’s simple. The designs you make in Creatopy are hosted on our servers, and you are given ad tags for quick ad delivery to the platforms of your choice.
Ad serving is part of Creatopy’s Optimize plan, meaning that if you are currently using the Create or Automate plans, you’ll need to upgrade to access it.
Ad networks’ recommended display ad file sizes aren’t there to limit you but to ensure you achieve the optimal weight for quick ad rendering, helping you reach a wider audience in the process.
There are simple ways to reduce your ads’ file size before upload, or you can eliminate the cap by using tools such as Creatopy’s ad serving.
Either way, whether you think they are helpful or could do without them, file size restrictions are a given that all display advertisers must be mindful of.