Google’s New Algorithm: Avoid Penalties on Intrusive Mobile Ads

Let’s face it, most users don’t like interstitial ads and obtrusive banners – that is ads that hide or cover up most or all of the content of a webpage.

Users cite that they are especially annoying in mobile webpages where the text is already very small and with pop-ups that block the entire screen.

Most site visitors opt-out of these ads as quickly as possible, without even bothering to look at them.

And that’s in the best-case scenario. Others may start to avoid certain websites entirely if they think they will have to overcome an interstitial obstacle course in order to view the content they want to see.

In true Google fashion, they are adjusting rankings based on intrusive mobile ads.

Google asserts that pages with these ad types provide a poorer user experience and so should appear lower in the search rankings. So starting January 10th, 2017, they will begin using a new search algorithm that penalizes mobile websites for including interstitial and pop-up ads.

What Google Considers an Interstitial Ad

Google considers an ad interstitial if it “makes content less accessible to a user.” For the full explanation, refer to here.

Some examples:

  • Showing a pop-up that covers the main content, either immediately after the user navigates to a page from the search results or while they are looking through the page.
  • Displaying a standalone interstitial that the user has to dismiss before accessing the main content.
  • Using a layout where the above-the-fold portion of the page appears similar to a standalone interstitial, but the original content has been inlined underneath the fold.

Previously Google had a signal that only devalued pages with interstitials that prompted users to install mobile apps. But it came to the conclusion that this wasn’t enough and has now chosen to target more.

Exceptions to the Rule

Not all interstitial ads, however, will be penalized. There are some cases where Google feels they are justified. These include:

  • Interstitials that appear to be in response to a legal obligation, such as for cookie usage or for age verification.
  • Login dialogs on sites where content is not publicly indexable. This would include private content such as email or unindexable content that is behind a paywall.
  • Banners that use a reasonable amount of screen space and are easily dismissible. For example – the app installs banners provided by Safari and Chrome.

Whether you agree with this policy change or feel that it is an invasion of your audience acquisition strategy, publishers will need to look for other ways to generate revenue.

GeoEdge’s Ad Monitoring and Management Tool Alerts on Interstitial Ads

GeoEdge provides 24/7 enforcement of all security, IT, data privacy and creative policies for every ad served. By alerting you to the presence of problematic ads in real-time, we enable you to block and remove bad ads before they can cause problems. This enforcement pertains also to interstitial ads. GeoEdge provides real-time notifications for a variety of compliance policy violations & operational verifications which are common to interstitials, including:

  • Pop-Ups – Receive a notification in the event of a pop-up banner/landing page over the user’s current window.
  • Creative File Sizes – Receive a notification when an ad’s creative file size exceeds a pre-defined limit.
  • Creative Unallowed Dimensions – Receive a notification when a creative is served outside of the predefined size(s).
Avoid penalties from the new Google algorithm and use GeoEdge’s ad ops tool to deliver a consistently positive brand experience – and protect your revenue.
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Michal is an experienced and versatile customer marketer, passionate about understanding people and building awareness about how our products/services satisfy their business needs. You can find her on Linkedin to discuss her approach to strengthening client relationships.

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