A floating ad is a type of rich media Web advertisement that appears uninitiated, superimposed over a user-requested page, and disappears or becomes unobtrusive after a specific time period (typically 5-30 seconds). The most basic floating ads simply appear over the Web page, either full screen or in a smaller rectangular window. They may or may not provide a means of escape, such as a close button. More sophisticated versions can come in any shape or size and include sound, animation, and interactive components. Floating ads use a variety of technologies, such as a combination of Flash and dynamic HTML (DHTML), and may have the ability to display differently according to the user's browser capabilities. United Virtualities and Eyeblaster are two advertising media companies that offer floating ads.
Floating ads grab the viewer's attention and tend to be more interesting to view than other formats. The Boston.com Web site recently featured a highly successful campaign using United Virtualities' Shoshkele ad, in which a Boston Globe delivery truck drives on from the left and crosses the screen, with newspapers flying out of the truck to houses in the background. When the truck drives off the right side of the screen, a small rectangular ad floats up to the right top corner, offering 50% off home delivery.
According to a HowStuffWorks article about Web advertising, a floating ad generates a clickthrough rate of about 30 clicks per thousand impressions, similar to the rates for pop-up ads and much higher than the cited 2-5 clicks per thousand impressions for a banner ad. Although the floating ads don't necessarily generate more clicks than pop-ups, they are thought to be more memorable and have a greater branding effect as a result. They often include tracking capabilities that report not only the numbers of clicks to the ads, but the number of times users reload a page to see the ad again.