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Your Interstitial Ads May Be Wrecking Your Google Mobile Search Ranking

by Itai Sadan  |  
December 4, 2015

You're scrolling through your Facebook feed on your phone, and you see an article worth reading. You click the link, but instead of the article you were expecting, a giant full-screen ad prompts you to download the news site's app.

Annoyed, you leave the page. Web. Experience. Ruined.

Those ads are called "interstitials," and they are overly common and widely hated. So why are they still used in Web design and online marketing?

The answer is pretty simple. Interstitials are like billboards on the highway: They put your message in a place where people will be forced to look. But billboards do not actively interrupt the experience of driving, so they're not annoying. Interstitials, on the other hand, bring Web browsing to a dead stop.

Here's the case against interstitials

In 2014, Google felt that interstitials created a poor user experience. Before making the decision to remove them, the company wanted hard data and analyzed its use of interstitials to promote the Google+ mobile app.

Its case study found that interstitials increased bounce rates and had little to no impact on app downloads. Faced with an interstitial ad, 69% of visitors abandoned the page and did not go to the app store or continue to the mobile website.

Google then ran a second experiment to see how removing the interstitial would affect product usage. This time, it promoted the app in a less intrusive way with a smart app banner. After removing the interstitial, one-day active users on the mobile website increased by 17%.

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Itai Sadan is the CEO and a co‐founder of Duda, a website-building platform for small businesses and Web professionals who serve them.

Twitter: @itaisadan

LinkedIn: Itai Sadan

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  • by Megan Fri Dec 4, 2015 via web

    Is this penalty specific to app downloads or would it also apply for an interstitial ad that asks for email sign ups?

  • by Stephen Fri Dec 4, 2015 via web

    Right now it Google is only applying this to app interstitials, but they've been saying for a while that they aren't fans of them on mobile devices, especially during the rollout of Mobilegeddon. So it's a fair bet at some point they're going to start counting interstitials in general as a no-go.

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