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Interstitial Ads: the Good, the Bad, and the Best Practices

September 15, 2021

If you play mobile games, you’ve likely encountered interstitial ads at least once before. These highly popular ads are widely used across apps, but now they’ve started to make their way to desktop browsers, too. While these ads can generate a lot of revenue for publishers, it’s critical to follow best practices to preserve the user experience and avoid penalties.

In this article, we’re going to:

  • Briefly explain what interstitial ads are.
  • Note the benefits of using interstitial ads.
  • Cover the risks of which to be aware.
  • Explain what the best practices for publishers are.

Let’s start with a brief explanation of these ads.

What Are Interstitial Ads?

Unlike popups or banners, interstitial ads cover the entire interface of the mobile screen or web page. Instead of appearing over the game or page, these ads appear at natural transition points between content, i.e., interstitially. For example, the interstitial may appear as the user moves from one page to another or between levels in a mobile game.

Interstitial ads may consist of:

  • Plain text.
  • Images.
  • Videos.
  • Rich media.

Source: The Verge

Depending on the type of media, an interstitial ad may or may not be closable immediate. For example, if it contains a video, there may be a five-second delay before the close button becomes visible. However, if it only contains plain text or static images, a user can close it immediately.

Why You Should Use Interstitial Ads

Interstitial ads are quite popular, and for a good reason. There are several reasons why you might want to use these types of ads. Let’s look at a few of the top benefits.

High Viewability and Interaction Rates

Since these ads are typically displayed for several seconds and take up a large portion of the viewport, they get high impression and viewability rates. They also help to reduce banner blindness, driving user engagement, and boosting click-through rates.

Increased Revenue

Due to the boosted metrics mentioned above, interstitial ads are considered highly valuable by advertisers. Many are willing to pay top dollar for this inventory, which means publishers can increase their revenue significantly.

Multi-Platform

Traditionally, interstitial ads are primarily found on mobile platforms and within applications. However, the use of these ads is becoming more prominent on browsers, too, giving publishers access to a highly lucrative revenue stream.

The Risks of Using Interstitial Ads

Unfortunately, while interstitial ads are widely used, poor practices can expose you to significant risks. Three of the most notable ones are:

  • Using the wrong advertising tactics may even result in your website being penalized by Google, impacting your revenue and SEO.
  • Poorly used interstitial ads can alienate your viewers.
  • Heavy interstitials, particularly rich media ads, can affect loading times, costing you views, users, and revenue.

The Best Practices for Interstitial Ads

If you want to use and benefit from interstitials, you need to ensure that you comply with best practices. Following these guidelines will prevent the ads from ruining the user experience while still giving you access to a lucrative source of revenue.

Prioritize The User Experience

As we mentioned, prioritizing user experience is critical. Publishers need to ensure that interstitial ads aren’t disruptive, following the natural flow of their web or app experience.

On desktop, interstitials should appear when users transition from one page to the next. However, they should never occur when users first enter a publisher’s website. Similarly, those in mobile apps should be placed between levels or a similar transition, such as clicking a ‘continue’ button.

Placement isn’t only critical due to user experience but also to avoid accidental clicks. When an advertisement appears while the user is busy interacting with an app or page, they may click on the ad without intending to do so.

Clear Close Buttons

There’s nothing more annoying than an ad without a clear exit button. While many of your visitors or app users understand that advertisements are necessary, being bombarded with timed ads with no close button is sure to annoy anyone.

Always obey the following:

  • If you used timed ads, clearly indicate how long the ad will be displayed.
  • A skip option should always be available after five seconds. On image or text ads, an exit button should be immediately visible.
  • Never hide the exit button by camouflaging the colors or placing objects over it.

Frequency Capping

As with most types of ads, aim for quality over quantity. Bombarding users with interstitial ads will simply drive them away from your site or app, costing you valuable traffic and revenue.

As a guideline, Google sets frequency capping at one interstitial ad per user per hour, limiting how many times someone will see the same advertisement. While you could increase the frequency with which you show ads, it’s a good idea to keep it under three per user within any given hour.

If you’re working with a monetization partner or ad network that uses interstitials, they may be able to give you advice or guidance.

Conclusion

Should you use interstitials? The answer to that question would depend on you, as the publisher, and the capabilities of the network or monetization partner with which you work. Ads, especially interstitial ads, need to find a balance between generating revenue and user experience.

If you work with a monetization partner like Rev·Amp, where we employ the best practices, interstitials can be a highly lucrative and effective way to display ads. However, if your network uses tactics that will get your site penalized by search engines like Google, or if they’ll disrupt the user experience, it’s best to avoid using the format.

With the right partner, interstitials can boost your revenue, attract more advertisers, and be an overall benefit to your site and users.

is a Strategic Partnership Manager at Softonic. As Strategic Partnership Manager, Maria is responsible for identifying strategic publishers and help them optimize their site for maximum yield as well as being on the constant lookout for opportunities to improve monetization capabilities.
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