Mobile Interstitial Ads Penalised
Google has announced that it is to penalise interstitial ads starting next month.
For users on poor data connections, there is nothing more monotonous than having to wade through continual requests to download an app before you can connect to the website you are actually trying to reach. Spurred on by this realisation, over the summer, Google published research on its own experiments with app interstitials for its own Google + app. It discovered that it drove only 9% of viewers to the app download, but caused 69% of users to abandon their attempts to use the site.
Because of this research, from 1st November, Google has decreed that they will not consider a site as mobile-friendly if it exhibits this behaviour. The Webmaster Central blog explained that they were specifically targeting “mobile web pages that show an app install interstitial that hides a significant amount of content on the transition from the search result page.”
Alternatives to Mobile Interstitial Ads
A number of alternatives are available that do not cover the page and will provide the opportunity to advertise the app without leading to de-indexing of the site for mobile users. However, these do not tend to be as effective as the interstitial in attracting downloads. This is in part because seeing the ad instead of the content you requested still requires you to take note of the advertisement message.
The trade-off in limiting the initial visibility of the site by placing ads against the higher level of repeat visits generated from the app is an issue that needs to be addressed by marketing teams before the policy change by the search engine is enforced.