It’s not easy to grab the user’s attention these days. The ads are everywhere, and even without ad-blockers, people sometimes ignore the messages we want them to see. These days, there are some interesting ad formats that can help publishers and advertisers push the message through – pop ads, push notifications, popunders and our full-screen favorite – the interstitial ad.
What is an interstitial ad?
Interstitials are full-screen ads – they cover the entire screen (mobile or computer screen) and they usually appear when the user moves between content pieces. For example, when a user clicks on a “next” link, they may see an interstitial ad. Interstitials can also appear inside apps (especially games): the ad presents when the user levels up or gets a bonus. The idea is to show interstitials naturally, and interfere as little as possible with the flow of content usage.
Interstitial ad types
Interstitials can take many forms: it can be an image, text, rich media or even video. The users have an option to watch the ad or skip it, using the X button. Usually, tapping on any other part of the ad, will take the user to the landing page. When it’s a video interstitial, there are usually a few seconds in which the user can’t navigate away from the ad, making it a very effective form of advertising (the delay is usually no longer than 5 seconds).
The Advantages of interstitials
Interstitials are super-popular in the advertising arena, since they are compelling and solve banner blindness. Developers, marketers, advertisers and publishers – everybody loves them. Their high impression rate, which means higher CTR.
The ads grab the user’s attention and they need to consider it before closing it. They offer high viewability and user engagement.
They usually show when a user is already engaging with your site’s content, so this means you already have their attention.
Google and interstitial ads
You want to use interstitials wisely, since Google might penalize your website if you are not using this type of ad correctly.
According to Google’s guidelines: “Intrusive interstitials and dialogs are page elements that obstruct users’ view of the content, usually for promotional purposes”.
Google understands that sometimes you need to cover the content in order to relay a message to your users, but it also says that “interstitials make it hard for Google and other search engines to understand your content, which may lead to poor search performance”.
So, if SEO is important to your website, you need to consider your interstitial strategy. However, there are a lot of websites who rely on PPC traffic and social media, and don’t invest in SEO. A website doesn’t need perfect SEO in order to succeed and make money, and if that’s the case for your site, you can use interstitials more freely.
Interstitials best practices
Since an interstitial ad covers the content and forces the user to consider it, you need to be careful and use it moderately, otherwise you’re going to alienate and annoy your users, which is never a good idea.
Here are some actions to avoid:
- Don’t put an interstitial after every action.
- Avoid interstitials upon app load or exit.
- Don’t display back-to-back interstitials.
- Don’t launch an interstitial unexpectedly, in the middle of a user action.
Displaying an interstitial when the user navigates from one page to another is acceptable.
Remember: interstitials are best for linear user experiences. There should be clear start and stop points, and the ads should merge into the natural flow of user engagement. When the user pauses, that’s the best time to display an interstitial ad.