Google’s New Policy Against Interstitial Ads

Google continues with their policy of Interstitial ads in mobile web. The big ads that pop ups on the mobile web when we are surfing and monopolizes all of our mobile device screen by prompting to download an app are considered to be Interstitials ads.

According to the policy, Google has started penalizing mobile websites that use such interstitials by declaring these websites mobile-unfriendly.

Google’s Rationale For Penalizing Interstitials

Google has published their results of an experiment carried out to see the effects of interstitials on one of its own mobile websites, Google+, earlier this year. In this study, Google has compared the results of showing visitors to the Google+ mobile website an app install interstitial with the results of showing them a smaller and less intrusive app install banner.

When showing the banner, Google reported that the number of people installing the Google+ app stayed virtually the same compared to showing the interstitial, while the number of one-day active users on the mobile website actually increased by 17 percent.

Although Google did not mention this study in its announcement of the policy, it’s reasonable to assume that such a directly relevant experiment is related to the company’s decision.

However, the results of the study may not be as clear-cut as they seem at first glance, and Google’s case against interstitials not as simple as it appears.

Using  A New Kind Of Interstitial

One of the most innovative ways to circumvent Google’s new policy comes from Google itself. Google Docs, an app that’s decidedly better than its equivalent mobile web experience, and probably more valuable for more users than Google+. When mobile users arrive on the Google Docs site it looks almost exactly like an interstitial, but it isn’t one. It’s the web page itself, only made to look like an interstitial. The navigation menu in the top right corner gives it away.

Developing Better Banners

Google recommends using App Install Smart Banners in Safari or Native App Install Banners in Chrome to replace interstitials. Unfortunately, these don’t offer much flexibility in design, which makes them a bad alternative for growth teams who need to experiment and iterate. The ability to do that is non-negotiable because it’s by far the best way to increase users, engagement and conversions.

It seems Google has left some wriggle room for the experimenters after all.

Beware of making those banners too large, though.

Is Google Really Putting The User First?

Today users drive tens of millions of installs through organic channels such as mobile websites using app install interstitials or banners. Both can work — it all depends on the user.

Ultimately, understanding the user’s intent and presenting them with personalized content determines the click-through rate and install conversion rate. As Marketing Land editor Danny Sullivan’s excellent overview of Google’s policy explains, the company is ironically declaring war on the same problem it helped to create when it first started to drive users to download apps on its own sites.

By implementing this wide-ranging policy on the basis of questionable evidence, it seems Google is not putting the user first this time.

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