Glossary
Adtech terms simply explained by our in-house experts

What Is an Interstitial Ad?

Interstitial ads (often just referred to as “interstitials”) are full-screen ads. When it comes to mobile advertising, interstitial ads typically appear between content or between levels in a mobile game.
Key Takeaways
  • Interstitials take up the full screen of a phone when they appear
  • A user can either click on the ad or close it and return to what they were doing in the app
  • Badly implemented interstitials inside an app can lead to penalties from platform providers

How Do Interstitial Ads Work?

Mobile interstitial ads are similar to pop-up ads in that they are not initiated by the user when they appear in an app. 

These ads can appear with text only, with a static image, with rich media (such as audio), or with videos. Users sometimes have to wait a certain number of seconds – usually five seconds – until they can close the ad. 

If they stay until the end of the ad, they will often see an end card with a call to action – such as to install a game.

three abstract phone screens showing different types of mobile interstitial ads

What about Rewarded Interstitials?

Rewarded interstitials typically elevate user engagement even further by driving users to directly interact with the ads. This interaction could, for example, be in the form of playing an excerpt of a game in exchange for the rewards needed to further enhance the in-app experience.

Are Interstitial Ads Good?

This ad format is very popular and a key component in the ad stack of many apps. However, mobile publishers should first consider whether interstitial ads are appropriate for the users of their app – will they grow frustrated and close the app?

An interstitial’s ability to take up a full screen means that advertisers can be sure they have their users’ full attention. With them, advertisers can win a high number of ad impressions, which will ideally result in a higher click-through rate (CTR), which makes this ad format more valuable to advertisers, who will as a result pay publishers more for showing their mobile interstitials.

The most effective interstitial ads for mobile publishers are used at natural points of the user flow inside an app. This could, for example, be in between mobile gaming levels. This is when users typically expect a break from gameplay. Publishers should also consider ad frequency and the variety of ad formats shown in their app to maximize the success of the interstitials they serve. 

Best practices for publishers or app developers wanting to integrate mobile interstitials in their app include the following: 

  • notifying users of how long the ad will last
  • allowing users to skip or quit the ads
  • ensuring the quit button is visible and accessible to users

Why Are Some Interstitials Seen as Negative?

While interstitials are a popular choice of ad format, carelessly placed or implemented interstitial ads can result in poorly performing ad campaigns. In the US, for example, interstitial ads were voted the most distracting ads in mobile games. These ads are typically

  • disruptive to the ad experience when they appear unexpectedly and in an untimely manner
  • likely to receive a penalty if ads are too irrelevant and disruptive
  • vulnerable to misclicks if the quit button is not accessible – this will skew CTR analytics

Publishers who have integrated mobile interstitials should therefore monitor their post-install events, such as in-app purchases, retention, engagement, or revenue to check that users are still happy and engaged in their app.

 In order to see which interstitials bring the best impact, advertisers or developers should carry out regular A/B testing on creatives, frequency caps, placement times, for example.

Conclusion

Publishers should remember the following rules when it comes to working with mobile interstitials: frequency, friction, and failing to be relevant. 

​​While interstitials can deliver high conversion rates because of their high visibility, developers and publishers should approach their implementation with care so as not to disrupt the user experience in their app. Publishers should prioritize user experience above all else.

FAQs

What Is an Interstitial Ad?

Interstitial ads in mobile advertising are usually full-screen ads that typically appear between content or between levels in a mobile game.

Are Interstitial Ads Good?

This ad format is very popular and a key component in the ad stack of many apps. However, mobile publishers should first consider whether interstitial ads are appropriate for the users of their app or they will disrupt user experience and send users away from the app.

Are Mobile Interstitials Bad?

Carelessly placed, disruptive, or badly implemented interstitial ads can result in poorly performing ad campaigns. These worsen the user experience, which means that users are less likely to convert and more likely to churn from an app.

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