The iniquity of the interstitial
New mobile-friendly move to be implemented from 1st of November
We’ve been wondering how long this would take since Google revealed the results of its own research in to the user experience of promotional mobile interstitial ads back in July. Google found that 69% of visitors confronted with the ad promoting the native Google+ app abandoned the site altogether, so it seemed only a matter of time – after the Mobilegeddon algorithm update – before Google would add this to their list of factors determining ranking for mobile sites.
The announcement came on Tuesday in a webmaster post:
When it comes to search on mobile devices, users should get the most relevant answers, no matter if the answer lives in an app or a web page […] sometimes a user may tap on a search result on a mobile device and see an app install interstitial that hides a significant amount of content and prompts the user to install an app. Our analysis shows that it is not a good search experience and can be frustrating for users.
Daniel Bathgate, Google Search Engineer
The post continues to reveal that an update scheduled for the 1st of November will mean that mobile sites whose interstitial advertisements are deemed to hide ‘a significant amount’ of page content on transition from the search result page will no longer be considered mobile-friendly.
Their own research back in July seemed destined to confirm what many marketers – regardless of personal feelings – thought of this style of ad, and indeed the CTR was found to be 9%. However, where Google’s study departed from the ‘necessary evil’ view was in their follow up banner ad campaign which found that one-day active users increased by 17% while iOS native app installs fell by only a (statistically insignificant) 2%. This appears to have convinced Google that a move to penalise the use of interstitials would cause no real harm to a brand’s ability to advertise while the benefits to a mobile user’s browsing experience would far outweigh any negative impact.
With a number of brands failing to take note of the early warnings (from Google’s ‘Webmaster Central’ blog) of the Mobilegeddon update forced to rush out last-minute mobile-friendly websites, it remains to be seen what percentage of mobile searches will ultimately be affected. However, it’s another firm statement from the search giants that their friendly new logo will not be reflected in a softening of their attitude toward mobile-friendliness as they continue to push brands toward prioritising consumer experience.
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