Google: Data Show Users Hate App-Promotion Interstitials

Almost 70 percent who encountered one abandoned the visit completely.

Google interstitial mobile

Very often smartphone users click a link to a mobile Web page and are confronted by a interstitial promotion asking them to download the publisher’s app. Users generally hate these takeovers, and they do almost nothing for the brand or publisher — except alienate users.

Google has determined empirically that interstitials don’t work and that the same call to action is more effectively presented as a mobile banner at the top of the page — provided it doesn’t take up too much space and is easily dismissed.

In a case study on app download interstitials, Google found in its own promotion of the Google+ app (a comScore top 15 app) that 69 percent of users who encountered the interstitial abandoned the visit entirely. In other words, they didn’t go to Google Play to get the app or continue to the mobile site to interact with the intended content.

Google said that 9 percent of visitors pressed the “get app” button. However, only a subset of those users probably took action. Google doesn’t report these numbers.

As part of the case study, Google subsequently tested the alternative banner approach for app promotion (upper right example). It found that:

  • One-day active users on our mobile website increased by 17 percent.
  • G+ iOS native app installs were mostly unaffected (-2 percent). (We’re not reporting install numbers from Android devices since most come with Google+ installed.)

In other words, users went on to interact with the mobile Web content; Google didn’t lose them as before. The company said, “Based on these results, we decided to permanently retire the interstitial.”

Accordingly, Google is encouraging others to abandon interstitials, too.

(Some images used under license from


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