How Publishers Should React to Google’s Interstitial Crackdown
Publishers were thrown into a bit of a panic recently when Google announced they’d be penalizing websites that use “intrusive interstitials” (aka pop-ups & lightboxes) on mobile. The reason for the panic is that interstitials are widely used among publishers for various purposes, including:
- Advertising: This is the main target of the Google crackdown -- ad experiences that prevent users from reaching their intended content on mobile.
- Ad blocking: Several prominent publishers are relying on the IAB-recommended method of displaying an interstitial when ad-blocking software is detected that asks the user to turn it off or whitelist the site.
- Newsletter signups: Savvy publishers, like Epicurious, are displaying interstitials on their website in an effort to collect email addresses; in some cases, this is also a response to ad blocking.
Interstitials are unquestionably popular with digital publishers, but now they’re being forced to choose between their pop-ups or their search rankings. So what’s a publisher to do?
The good news is that this interstitial crackdown only affects mobile sites, so publishers can continue on their merry way as far as desktop goes. (But they may not want to, as you’ll see below.) As for mobile, there are a few ways to work around this:
- Slider units: These units animate in, usually from the side, and while they don’t cover up all of the content, they’re still highly noticeable and less likely to be ignored. Slider units not only provide a better experience for the user, they’re also more effective in the long-term vs. interstitial units.
- In-line capture forms: If you’re worried about losing out on email addresses, placing a subscription form in between two paragraphs is a great way to ask for an email subscription while they’re already enjoying your stellar content.
Using these methods on mobile will give you what you need, whether it’s ads, an ad blocking solution, or email addresses, while also keeping Google happy. Making this small pivot on your mobile websites will also provide a better experience for your users, keeping them happy as well. And finally, since these units are so effective, they’ll keep you happy too. So no need to panic; it’s a win-win-win situation.