Web Interstitial ads: What are they and how to use them

Interstitial Ads have grown in popularity over the years to become accepted as a format on both mobile and traditional web experiences. In the beginning, there were banner ads and pop-up ads. Pop-up ads broke up the user experience and were phased out through technical means such as pop-up blockers. Over the years, through the growth and innovation in ad formats through mobile, native, and video advertising, pop-up Ads have evolved into a more accepted Interstitial Ad. In fact, Google launched Web Interstitial Ads in late 2020. In this piece, we will go into a bit more detail.

Interstitial ads - what are they and what are the benefits of using them

What is an interstitial ad?

Interstitial Ads are typically full-screen ads that cover the majority of the active screen, whether that is floating over a web page in view or filling the screen on a mobile device. As the name suggests, these ads appear in-between the content a user is engaging with.

Good examples of such ads would be breaks in play, between levels in a game, at natural transition points within an app, or in-between pageviews, before accessing a new page or piece of content. Usually, the initiation happens on a specified action, whether that is the user clicks on a relevant link or reaches a designated point of action within an app or game.

A required function of this format is the ability to close it and continue using the web page or app. This is usually in the form of an X in the top right corner or just outside the ad overlay. Non-video ads should have an immediate close option whereas video ads may have a timing feature before the X appears.

The key difference between a Pop-up Ad and a Web Interstitial Ad is that Pop-up Ads can appear at any time, breaking up the user experience. Web Interstitial Ads should only appear between two web pages as a true interstitial.

Why should you use them on your site?

Interstitial ads have the potential to deliver more ad impressions, higher click-through rates, higher conversion rates, and increased revenue. This revenue opportunity is the main reason sites may use or at least test Interstitial Ads.

With a larger format size that affords greater creativity and emphasizes user engagement, the impact is greater. Interstitial Ads offer a unique opportunity for advertisers to engage with users in a way that isn’t possible with traditional banner ads as the attention is focused solely on the ad. The result is a premium placed on the price an advertiser is willing to pay for this ad. 

How should I set up Web Interstitial Ads on my site?

There are also 3 clear use cases that Google offers for the use of Web Interstitial Ads:

  1. Ad displayed between two webpages; a traditional ad type as previously discussed;
  2. Ad displayed for age verification; ensuring the user visiting your site is the appropriate age to access the content of the web page;
  3. Ad displayed for cookie consent; ensuring the user is given the ability to provide informed consent for cookies and trackers to process their personal data;

In addition to the above, there are some definite rules to abide by and things to avoid with Interstitial Ads. Here are a few pointers:

  1. Close and Exit; Make sure to have a clear close and exit option for users as making the ad difficult to close makes for a very intrusive experience;
  1. Natural Flow; Create a natural flow by having a clear transition for the Ad to appear. A clear start and stop points with a user-based pause or transition in engaging with content;
  1. Be respectful; When an Interstitial Ad appears, be sure there is no content playing such as audio or video as this is not only annoying but will also slow down the performance of the ad;
  1. No Delay; Interstitial ads need to pre-load and render automatically before the user navigates away from the page. No delay should be caused as the user is clicking a link on the web page;
  1. Maintain Frequency; Too much disruption to the experience will turn users away. Maintain the frequency capping set by Google of 1 Interstitial Ad per 1 user within 1 hour on 1 sub-domain; 
  1. Correct Links; Ensure any clicks on ads are directed to the correct landing pages to help with user expectations, conversion, and overall performance;
  1. No div; Something to remember with Web Interstitials, in particular, is that they create their own ad slot, so there is no < div > required;
  1. Google Search Standards; Do not place an Interstitial Ad before the main content of the page as Google will penalize the site on search page rankings in accordance with Google Search Standards as they aim to improve the mobile search experience;

Web Interstitial Ads have the potential to provide better monetization for your website, as long as you keep the user experience at the forefront of your decision-making.