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Interstitials Can Be A Dangerous Game For App Monetization

July 29, 2015 - Written By John Anon

When it comes to monetizing, apps seem to be where everyone’s thoughts are. In fact, the app has almost become the end-goal for many companies and irrespective of what the app is designed to do. Instead and using the build it and they will come mentality, it seems companies are just keen to get downloads on the board, ads in the app and generate the revenues as quickly as possible. So much so, that many mobile sites are now starting to make sure they have an app and one which takes precedence over their actual site.

This is where interstitials come in. These generally consist of a page before you reach your end goal content. So you see a link about an article, for instance. You click the link and before your reach the article an unexpected page pops up. Most often than not, if the interstitial is not an outright ad, then it will be an ad for the site’s app. “Download our app” or “Get the app” and read the content you want on the app. This is the premise and a trend which seems to be increasing with websites nowadays. It seems as though the sites are no longer happy with you reading content on their site, but instead want to ensure that you download their app too. From the perspective of app monetization companies, it does seem like a good idea.

That said, data is starting to reveal that it might not be so good for you, your app or your site. In fact, it could even be an a monetization mistake you want to avoid. Google last week, published details of a case study they did on their own interstitials for Google+ and found that in most cases, the ‘Download our App’ insert proved to be more harmful than good. For instance, according to the results only 9% of people visiting the interstitial page pressed the “Get the app” button. Now, although 9% may sound like a decent return compared to the 0% percent for not including the interstitial, this figure does not take into consideration how many people actually downloaded the app in the end, aka click conversions. Nor does the percentage take into consideration the number of people who might have already had the app installed, as the interstitial is not able to distinguish between such circumstances to begin with.

What is far more important though, is that the case study revealed that 69% of people abandoned the mobile site altogether. That is, they did not progress through to the site content (the original task at hand) nor did they click the Get the app button. They simply were put off enough to leave and presumably head somewhere else for the information, service or product. So while you might think that offering your sites feature, services or products through a native app is a better option for the end user (better features, greater design) and better for you (access to IAPs and IAAs), it would seem that trying to prompt the user in that direction by using an interstitial is a gambler’s game. Yes, you might see a maximum click-through rate of 9% to your app’s page listing, but you quite likely might also see as much as 69% of your mobile site traffic choosing the unforeseen third option…visiting someone else’s site.