Interstitial Ads

What is an Interstitial ad?

Interstitial ads are full-screen ads that cover the interface of their host app or site. They usually appear in places of natural transition, such as between activities or game levels. They can include text, image, video or rich media. Users can either tap on the ad to visit its destination or close it to return to the app or site. Interstitial ads are different from pop-up ads, which are smaller and often appear unexpectedly.

Photo credit: Mobileaction

Interstitial ads can be effective for monetizing your app or site, but they also have some drawbacks. For example, Google may penalize mobile pages that use interstitial ads that obstruct the content or make it hard for users to access it. 

Interstitial ads should not appear immediately after a user clicks on an app, when they try to exit the app, or repeatedly after every user action. Interstitial ads should also not be launched unexpectedly when a user is focusing on a task.

Why Use an Interstitial Ad?

Here are some reasons why interstitial ads might be used:

  1. High Visibility: Interstitial ads are full-screen ads that cover the entire device screen. This provides advertisers with a large canvas to display their content, making it highly visible and hard to ignore.

  2. Engagement: Interstitial ads often use rich media formats, such as images, videos, animations, and interactive elements. This can lead to higher user engagement compared to other types of ads, as users are more likely to interact with compelling and interactive content.

  3. Impactful Messaging: The full-screen nature of interstitial ads allows advertisers to deliver their message in a more impactful and immersive way. This can be particularly useful for conveying complex information, promoting special offers, or showcasing new products.

  4. Monetization: For app developers and website owners, interstitial ads can be a lucrative way to monetize their content. Since interstitial ads capture the user’s attention and offer higher engagement, advertisers are often willing to pay more for these placements.

  5. Natural Pauses: Interstitial ads are strategically placed during natural pauses or transitions in user activity, such as between levels of a game or when moving from one webpage to another. This minimizes user disruption compared to other ad formats that might interrupt the user experience more abruptly.

  6. Higher Click-Through Rates (CTR): Due to their large size, compelling content, and strategic placement, interstitial ads can achieve higher click-through rates compared to traditional banner ads. Users are more likely to engage with an ad that occupies their entire screen.

  7. User Segmentation: Interstitial ads can be targeted based on user demographics, behavior, interests, and other parameters. This helps advertisers deliver more relevant content to their target audience, increasing the likelihood of conversions.

Penalties for Using Interstitial Ads

Using interstitial ads, while offering potential benefits, can also have consequences if not used appropriately. Here are some potential penalties or negative outcomes that can arise from using interstitial ads in a way that negatively impacts user experience or violates guidelines:

  1. User Frustration and Abandonment: If interstitial ads are shown too frequently or at inappropriate times, users might become frustrated and abandon the app or website altogether. This can lead to a decline in user retention and engagement.

  2. Increased Bounce Rates: Bounce rate refers to the percentage of users who leave a webpage without interacting further. Intrusive interstitial ads can contribute to higher bounce rates, as users might leave the page rather than engage with the ad.

  3. Poor User Ratings and Reviews: Users often express their dissatisfaction through app store reviews, website feedback, and social media. Negative reviews and ratings can harm your app’s reputation and deter potential users from downloading or using it.

  4. Violation of Guidelines: App stores and advertising platforms often have guidelines and policies for ad formats. If your interstitial ads violate these guidelines, your app or account might be suspended or removed from the platform, resulting in loss of revenue and users.

  5. Ad Blockers: Intrusive ads can lead users to install ad-blocking software, which can impact your ad revenue. Ad blockers are designed to suppress or remove ads from websites and apps, making it difficult for advertisers to reach their intended audience.

  6. Reduced Monetization: If you’re using interstitial ads to monetize your app or website, an excessive focus on ads at the expense of user experience can backfire. Users might abandon your app or website, leading to reduced ad impressions and revenue.

  7. Negative Brand Perception: If advertisers consistently use interstitial ads that disrupt user experience, it can negatively impact their brand’s reputation. Users might associate the brand with annoyance and intrusion rather than value.

Checklist to Avoid Penalties for Intrusiveness

To avoid these penalties, it’s important to follow best practices when using interstitial ads:

  • Frequency: Limit the frequency at which interstitial ads appear to prevent overwhelming users.
  • Relevance: Ensure that ads are relevant to the user’s interests and context.
  • Natural Transitions: Display interstitial ads during natural pauses or transitions in user activity.
  • User Control: Provide a clear and easily accessible way for users to dismiss or skip ads.
  • Testing: Monitor user engagement, retention, and feedback to assess the impact of interstitial ads on your app or website.

Penalty exceptions Interstitial Ads

Not all interstitials are targeted for penalty, meaning they don’t require a change of ad size, design, or position. Exceptions include:

Cookie usage interstitials
Interstitial ads used for cookie consent notifications as required by the EU are permitted.

Age verification interstitials
Google allows age-verification interstitials that act as a shield for certain content, such as alcohol-related or adult-related content.

Page-to-Page Interstitials
Interstitial ads that pop up when users move between a website’s pages are acceptable, as long as those pages cannot be found in an organic Google Search.

Crossing a Paywall

Many high-end, popular, and news media sites employ interstitial paywall ads to encourage users to pay for premium content.

How Much Do Interstitial Ads Pay?

The amount that interstitial ads pay can vary depending on a number of factors, including:

  • The ad network
  • The type of ad (video, image, or text)
  • The target audience
  • The location of the ad
  • The time of day
  • The frequency of the ad

The Appodeal study revealed the top five relevant eCPM countries for interstitial ads for iOS are the US ($9.64), Japan ($6.86), Australia ($5.98), China ($5.12), and Canada ($4.95).

For Android, the top 5 are the US ($10.11), Australia ($8.62), Canada ($7.41), Japan ($6.92), and New Zealand ($6.65).

The impact of interstitial ads on user experience and revenue can be both beneficial and harmful. Despite being considered highly abusive in particular circumstances, they can stimulate high conversion and attract more users. Be aware of Google penalties for neglecting ad rules, and feel free to experiment with making your ads more creative and captivating.

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