Google Gets Tough on Mobile App Interstitials

app ad interstitials

As we already know, Google is not a fan of app interstitials and the negative effect they can have on the mobile user experience. 

So, from November 1, Google will no longer consider sites with intrusive app interstitials ‘mobile-friendly’. 

Google explained this on its Webmaster Central Blog: 

After November 1, mobile web pages that show an app install interstitial that hides a significant amount of content on the transition from the search result page will no longer be considered mobile-friendly.

This does not affect other types of interstitials. As an alternative to app install interstitials, browsers provide ways to promote an app that are more user-friendly.

Here’s an example of what Google is talking about, from IMDB.com. The search result shows the site as mobile-friendly at the moment: 

imdb-search

However, that looks set to change unless IMDB removes this interstitial promoting its app. 

It is certainly intrusive and it certainly obscures ‘a significant amount of content on the transition from the search result page’. All of the content in fact. 

imdb-interstitial-mobile

It can be useful to be notified that there is an app, but this kind of ad is likely to deter many mobile users. Indeed, Google may be doing such sites a favor with this update. 

Google offers an alternative in the form of app install banners, as shown below:

 

google-mobile-app-banners

These banners don’t obscure the content, yet offer the chance for users to either interact with them or close them down. 

This move follows a general trend of Google’s increasing use of user experience (UX) factors when ranking web pages.

The mobile-friendly update in April, otherwise known as ‘mobilegeddon’, forced sites to ensure their mobile visitors were offered a better user experience, and I’d expect more UX factors to be used by Google in future.  

As with other forms of interruptive advertising that many users despise, interstitials can work. No-one would be using them if they didn’t. However, there’s little doubt that they are bad for the user experience. 

Sites using these interstitials will need to choose between the benefits offered by such ads and the downside of losing out in mobile search. 

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