Remember coming across those multiple pop-up ads while you’re trying to view some content piece on a mobile app or a mobile webpage? We’re sure that you can relate to this experience and would like to unleash your share of laments on this topic as well. These are known as interstitial ads, which have a strong presence on mobile and often ruin the user experience.

Even though mobile ad blockers had forced advertisers to employ damage control measures in order to ensure that their advertisements pass the user experience bar, they haven’t quite managed to tackle the issue.

So, now the tech giant, Google has decided to take a firm stand on this matter that will require publishers and advertisers to take user experience very seriously.

What’s this about?

In its recent blog, Google announced its plan to introduce some new changes in its mobile search results with a view to improve the ultimate user experience while accessing content. This time, interstitial ads are under Google’s radar.

After Jan 10, 2017, Google intends to penalise mobile web pages that show intrusive interstitial ads to users by ranking them below the ladder. This is especially applicable in the case of those interstitial ads that unnecessarily pop up in between and cause inconvenience to the users by delaying their access to content.

So, mobile web pages, which host the following types of intrusive interstitial ads are likely to get penalised by Google and score a low rank.

Will affect

  • Popups that cover the main content right after a user lands up on the page from mobile search results, or while the users look through the page.
  • Standalone interstitial ads that need to be dismissed first in order to access the main content.
  • Layouts where the above-the-fold portion of the page appears similar to a standalone interstitial, but the original content has been in-lined underneath the fold.

Won’t affect

  • Interstitials that are in place due to legal obligations
  • Login dialogs on sites where content is not publicly indexable.
  • Banners that adhere to a reasonable screen space and can be easily dismissed.

What’s our take on this?

It’s true that interstitial ads seem to be quite a nuisance for users who navigate to a mobile page with a particular or defined purpose; be it for reading a news article or content piece, or watching a movie trailer or searching for travel information related to rail routes, flights, etc. To come across an unasked-for full screen ad that delays the user’s access to content by increasing the page loading time, consumes internet data on the user’s mobile phone and not to forget, eats up the user’s precious time, could be quite annoying. What further tests the user’s patience limit is the task of locating the minuscule ‘cross button’ to dismiss the ad!

Not just that. In some cases, the cross buttons are quite spammy. Even after users click on them, they tend to generate additional pop-ups or divert users to other landing pages with an intention of selling a product or a service.

So, setting up a mechanism that checks the scale of such pushy or illegitimate interstitial ads does sound valid from Google’s standpoint as it surely brings down the user experience.

It has been Google’s consistent endeavour to initiate or adopt practices that lead to the improvement of user experience across the internet and facilitate the quick access to information for users.

By penalising such interstitial ads, Google is raising the standards for advertisers by urging them to get creative with more innovative ads formats that can actually engage the users without shrinking their overall experience.

This does not mean that interstitial ads are going to be banned or out of business. In fact, that aspect is quite debatable and can be properly assessed only after Google goes live with these upcoming changes.

Here’s what Google recommends instead of interstitials.

  1. Use a small banner using HTML
  2. Use app install banners / smart banners
  3. Use app indexing for Android apps

Hint for Publishers

Google is also trying to provoke publishers to implement some corrective measures in their current system of serving ads to users. Incidentally, Google also did something similar last year with its Mobilegeddon update, where it had tweaked its mobile search algorithm to favour mobile-optimised websites over the others.

What can advertisers do about it?

Meanwhile, mobile advertisers could try to refine the way of doing interstitial ads by making them more relevant and attractive with the right content, or visual appeal. They could also work towards providing users with an easy way of dismissing these ads through bigger ‘cross buttons’ or other cancelling options.

Besides, we don’t think that Google’s hunt for interstitial ads will cause much of a disruption as nowadays, interstitial ads are already tending to lose their relevance. These ads are almost passé.

It’s the age of exciting ad formats.

Today, mobile advertisers can pick from highly dynamic ad formats like rich media ads or click-to-expand banner ads that don’t curb the user experience.

Rich media – The best performing mobile ad unit

In fact, performance-wise rich media ads are known to generate higher CTRs and conversions for mobile advertisers as they are extremely creative in nature. For example, advertisers can easily grab the attention of users by using fun and interactive rich media game ads.


Non-intrusive Banner ads

Advertisers can also experiment with more relevant banner ads by using engaging image and text content. In fact, many exciting click-to-expand or swipe-to-expand banner ads are widely being used nowadays. These ads are usually much cheaper and have lots of available inventory. The best part about banner ads is that they do not interfere with the user experience.


With the advent of these new-age ad formats, there is a lot of room for advertisers to get creative and step up to meet-the-cut for delivering an engaging ad experience that impresses the end user.

Thus, Google’s move is merely a reminder for advertisers and publishers to keep the criteria of ‘user experience’ and ‘easy access to information’ their primary focus. This calls for the need to think outside-the-box and create better quality ads that can make way for a spectacular experience for users.

Also read our take on the iOS 9 adblockers update

Are you following this topic? Tell us what do you think about Google’s move! Drop us a line at neelanjana@affle.com 

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