Interstitial ads are very common on apps and sites these days. If you are not aware of the term, interstitial ads are those that cover the entire interface of their host app or site. Interstitial ads are usually displayed at the natural breakpoints of an app or site. For example, an interstitial ad will usually play between two levels of a game.
It is important to know that interstitial ads are interactive. Once interstitial ads start on users' screens, they have the choice to either click on them and land on the ad destination or close the ad.
Interstitial ads should not be confused with pop-up ads and banners. The latter only covers the screens partly, whereas interstitial ads cover them entirely.
Interstitial ads are of different kinds. Some of these ads are:
When an interstitial ad is based on image or text only, it can be closed immediately. A video ad, however, runs for about 5 seconds at least before it can be closed.
Interstitial ads can be found on desktops and mobiles. As mobile phones are the most commonly used devices, we will discuss mobile interstitial ads mainly. Mobile interstitial ads are a useful tool to drag user attention to ad destinations.
In the case of video ads, users have no choice but to watch the ad run its course. Sometimes, the close option on mobile interstitial ads is so small that it is almost impossible not to land on the ad's destination page. Mobile interstitial ads, however, are more successful in attracting user attention than pop-up ads or banners.
As common as interstitial ads are, there are some regulations and penalties that come along with their use. Google penalizes websites that use "intrusive" forms of interstitial ads. The frequent occurrence of interstitial ads where they don't belong affects user experience negatively.
As a result of these penalties, interstitial ads can only be placed at a transitory moment in an app or site. Placing interstitial ads in between an article or blog post is a strict no. Interstitial ads in between these result in a poor reading experience.
To curtail the use of mobile interstitial ads or interstitial ads generally, Google has devised to lower the ranking of websites using these excessively.
Google made an announcement clearly defining what kind of interstitial ads will be targeted.
To begin with, interstitial ads that instantly cover the screen when a user navigates to or loads a website or app is restricted. The pop-up should not cover the page directly while the user goes to a page from search results.
Interstitial ads that jump at the user's face unexpectedly are prohibited. Ads are only applicable at a transition location in an app or website.
Frequent placement of interstitial ads is another no-go zone. Advertisements that appear one after the other and too frequently come under penalized actions.
Interstitial ads placed upon every user action are also prohibited. Ads shall not be repeated at every user-screen interaction.
Designing an ad layout where the above-the-fold portion of the ad looks similar to a standalone interstitial, but the actual content aligned beneath the fold.
Ads should not be standalone interstitials that cover the entire main page and content of the user's interest.
The main and most solid reason for the Google crackdown on interstitial ads was improving user experience. Mobile interstitial ads or other such mediums were having an impact on the overall surfing experience; the ads were mostly unexpected and unwelcome. People considered these to be intrusive.
An interesting turn of events was Google's discovery of 69% of users quitting the page when shown an ad to download the Google+ app. The research marks as evidence only for users finding interstitial ads rather bizarre.
While most mobile interstitial ads are penalized by Google, there are some exceptions. Not all interstitial ads hold intrusive purposes. Google has clearly defined such ads that stand out of the penal code. These ads do not require size, position, or design alterations.
Mobile interstitial ads inquiring about cookie acceptance are one of those that will not be penalized. The reason for these interstitials to be left out is user consent. These pop-ups are present for the users' consent of providing information regarding their location or activity. The purpose of these is not to hinder user experience but rather user interest.
Pop-up interstitial ads demanding to pay for further viewership/readership from certain content are allowed. This ad practice is common in media, and news sites. Due to heavy resource investment in the content for these sites and applications, these are exempted from interstitial penalties.
Another common type of interstitial ads is age consent centric. Such pop-ups request age verification to continue surfing through sites or apps. The age consent interstitials ads are meant to keep a certain age group audience from restricted content on the web. These interstitial ads are approved and mandated.
Interstitial ads are allowed to be placed between one page and another. The only limitation is if the page can be searched through Google search.
Interstitial ads are only penalized when they affect user experience. Recurring ads at times can get irritating. Users are sometimes forced to quit sites and applications due to intrusive content.
With restrictions on previously prevalent interstitial ad techniques, the marketing practice is still not completely extinct.
There are ways to continue interstitial ad practices as long as they do not disturb the users too much.
Though there isn't any official testing tool launched by Google, certain online programs can be used to identify potential interstitial ads. Such programs use image recognition to ascertain the pop-ups that take up too much space on the screen and are prohibited.
It is best to be considerate of positions when placing interstitial ads. When an interstitial ad appears at an expected point during use, it is less likely to disrupt the user experience. Place ads at expected stopping points or breaks or when the user intentionally presses pause.
An acceptable placement would be right before a page break where user action is required to continue further.
To continue using interstitial ads it's better to practice making the exit button easier to use. This will make the ad slightly more tolerable for users where they have the choice to quit conveniently. This is especially required with mobile interstitial ads.
Going through all interstitial ads on a website can help. Apart from those that are approved, evaluate pop-ups according to the space they consume on the screen. Reducing the size of ads can be a way to avoid being penalized.
Reducing the time and frequency of ads on an app or site can also prove to be helpful. Interstitial ads pouring on one after the other can highly affect user experience.
Try to place ads during different stages of progress through an app or site instead of random showings.
Ads or banners that occupy a reasonable amount of space on the screen are considered to be safe. Make sure the size of the ad does not fully cover the actual content. Though there aren't any exact measurement guidelines prescribed, keeping the ad size to 15% or less is acceptable.
Interstitial ads are no doubt a means of earning; but so are the users on websites or applications. The entire purpose of these restrictions is to enhance and improve user experience. This is also the ultimate goal of website and app owners.
If the users quit using apps or sites due to constantly invasive ads, that counts as a loss as well. The use of frequent interstitial ads and user retention should be in balance. There is not much point to infinite interstitial ads on a platform without any audience.
Despite being sought after and penalized by Google, there are advantages to using interstitial ads. It is for these very advantageous reasons that mobile interstitial ads have gained such popularity.
As irritating as interstitial ads might be, they serve as efficient advertising mediums. They successfully draw user attention towards the campaigns and brands. Interstitial ads are an effective method to promote businesses.
With interstitial ads, it is easier to generate ad revenue and boost app monetization. Interstitial ads are engaging and yield higher user interest if placed correctly.
Ads do matter across different sources of media. Interstitial ads are advertisements on the web. They offer ad diversity and user engagement, as a result, increasing ad revenue.
It is a fact that interstitial ads have a better CTR or click-through rate for their destinations. The placement of these ads at various intervals during an application or site encourages the call-to-action aspect.
Due to their high impression rate, interstitial ads are the most effective means of increasing downloads and revenue. Developers and marketers rely greatly on these ads to bring in large amounts of business earnings.
Companies have witnessed an increased amount of app installations with interstitial optimizations. Well-known applications such as Pinterest and Airbnb gained app installations by 100% and 300% respectively.
The most appealing bit of interstitial ads is their size. Due to large sizes, interstitial ads attract user attention more easily. Once the attention has been captured, it is more likely that users will follow an ad to its destination.
Interstitial ads leave an overall larger impression as compared to banners or pop-ups. The larger impression encourages an increased click-through rate leading to an increased conversion rate.
While interstitial ads have become a key component for brands' marketing, there are a few things that should be considered. It is better to be thoughtful of the user before placing interstitial ads all across the content inconsiderately.
Now that we know exactly what interstitial ads are, let's give a verdict if these are useful or not. Interstitial ads are no doubt a great marketing technique. Users are attracted to these ads for their large sizes and interactive layouts. A study suggests that 40% of users remember what an ad was about and its offerings. This means interstitial ads are a great way to market your brand.
On the other hand, interstitial ads, when used without limitations can be annoying and negatively affect user experience. This is the main reason for Google policing these ads and laying restrictions on them. It is suggested that 22% of users try to find the "X" button as soon as shown an interstitial ad.
Interstitial ads when placed properly across the content are harmless and can increase the click-through rate for apps and sites.
It is just better to use these ads in a controlled frequency and at proper timings to not disrupt the user experience.