Google Study Confirms All Of Our Suspicions About Online Ads

27 Jul 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Annoyed By Mobile Sites That “Ask” You To Download Their App? You’re Not Alone.

Most mobile web users are all too familiar with the infamous “interstitial” ad that often pops up to promote a website’s native app, but this week Google did them a favor and eliminated its own such ads.

Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) has decided to take another look at its policy for interstitial mobile app ads that pop up when a user opens a mobile site, irking users by suggesting they download an app. After internal user studies suggested that mobile Google+ users didn’t enjoy the pesky full-page ads inviting them to download the Google+ app, Google did a more formal study. If any company was to test the heck out of an intervention like one of those pages—known in the trade as a promotional app interstitial—it was going to be Google. Well, that and common sense when you think about the contrast between the aim of mobile computing (speed, convenience) and the point of interstitials (slow, distract). It found that while 9 percent of the visits to its interstitial page resulted in someone pressing the “Get App” button, a full 69 percent resulted in the user abandoning the page altogether, without visiting the app store or even continuing on to the Google+ site.

The ad giant has just blogged about the result of its study, saying it found almost two-thirds (69 per cent) of visitors served with an interstitial for its Google+ social service abandoned the page entirely — neither downloading the app, nor going on to visit the mobile website — attributing this to the added friction of serving mobile users with an interstitial. As a follow-up to that study, Google last year experimented with removing the interstitial ad and using a less-intrusive banner ad for the app instead.

And while that might sound crazy high (vs online ad click rates, for instance) Google points out that a proportion of those who pressed ‘Get App’ would already have had the app installed. Google’s conclusion: “We decided to permanently retire the interstitial,” wrote David Morell, a software engineer for Google+, in a Thursday blog post. “We believe that the increase in users on our product makes this a net positive change.” Interstitial screen “takeovers” are very annoying to smartphone users and “don’t really perform for developers and publishers,” Sterling added. “It’s in everyone’s interest to find alternatives.” Google, then, is planning to scrap interstitial pages, and says it published the results so that others will “reconsider the use of promotional interstitials” to “remove friction and make the mobile web more useful.” Which is a conclusion we can really get behind. TechCrunch stated that Google+ interstitial study is a teaser in terms of data it yields, but it underlines the ongoing issue of serving any kind of ads on mobile without specifically irritating the users. Despite our intuition that we should remove the interstitial, we prefer to let data guide our decisions, so we set out to learn how the interstitial affected our users.

Add to that, many mobile users may well have also simply hit the ‘Get App’ button in error, since those buttons tends to be a lot larger than the ‘continue to mobile site’ links. What the statistics suggest are that rather than getting more downloads of their application, many websites may just be driving users away by interrupting their browsing with an advertisement, and a large proportion of users at that.

Meanwhile it says Google+ iOS native app installs were “mostly unaffected”, in its assessment — dropping two per cent. (Android users get Google+ preinstalled already, hence the iOS-only measure. For example, every time I am required to re-sign-in to the TC owner’s corporate Gmail on mobile to access my work email I still have an additional click standing in the way of the content I’m trying to access, being as Google always serves an interstitial (right) promoting the Gmail app. They instead suggest that website owners use a less intrusive way to suggest that users download their app, possibly by using a banner instead of blocking website content by an interstitial ad. And it certainly won’t want the general shift from desktop to mobile computing to end up acting like an interstitial retarding the flow of its ad-based revenue stream.

They claim that Google is trying to force other companies change their online behavior, better positioning the search engine to get more business for themselves. Many find that a full-page advertisement between clicking a link and viewing the content slows down their online experience and makes mobile browsing less smooth.

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