Lightbox Ads: So Easy Even a PPC Manager Can Create Them

Ryan Larkin
By Ryan Larkin

If you are in digital marketing, chances are that you’ve heard the term “lightbox ads”. Interestingly enough, very few actually know what they look like, and even fewer know how to create them. The actuality of the situation is that they are extremely easy to understand and a lot easier to set up than you might imagine.

First thing’s first, a lightbox ad is an expandable creative asset that will take over a majority of your screen if you hover over its “thumbnail” for a couple seconds. It’s not a CPC model as most of us are accustomed to. Instead, it’s a CPE model (cost per engagement). This basically means that we’ll pay when someone “hovers” over the aforementioned thumbnail long enough for the lightbox ad to appear.


Once the user is shown the lightbox ad, it’s extremely interactive. As advertisers, we can leverage multiple images and video assets as creatives within the lightbox along with descriptions and different landing pages. These ads can liven up any display campaign and are worth testing with the right audience.

Okay, enough background information, let’s explore how we can easily make Lightbox Ads work for us.

First, navigate to the Ads tab within a campaign. Click +Ad and select Ad Gallery. From there you’ll be given the option to choose “Lightbox ad”.


If you or your client has strong video assets, you may want to use those along with images. This creates a more engaging experience.

PPC Forecasting Tool

After you pick which Lightbox ad format you want to use, you are able to easily manipulate how the ad looks. Google has made long strides in creative development in the UI and this is a shining example of how easy it is. I mean, if something with little to not creative experience (like me) can create an aesthetic and engaging ad, anything is possible.

Once you’ve reached the Setup screen, the process is very intuitive. One of my favorite features is the ability to upload images in your ad straight from your website – meaning you don’t even need to download or generate creative content; you can literally swap it in from your site.

When updating the video (assuming you chose a video supported format), you can choose any YouTube video you want as your asset. This is extremely useful and helps prevent a myriad of potential headaches.


Setting up the following image components is just as simple. As I mentioned earlier, you can use choose to pick photos from your website, which makes the process super easy. You can then add a description and a landing page for that image (and all images you add subsequently).

Easy enough right? I implore anyone working in AdWords to give this a shot. Even if you don’t end up deploying these ads, at least you can flex some of those creative muscles!




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Ryan Larkin is the Paid Media Technical Director at Power Digital Marketing who has 5+ years of industry experience. Ryan has spoken at several events including Media Leaders' Digital Growth Summit, Google's annual E-commerce event in Venice, and San Diego State's Entrepreneur Society's annual Conference in 2016. Ryan is currently focused on growing a variety of online paid media accounts and team members, with an emphasis on audience segmentation and shopping feed optimizations.