Have you ever come across a pesky and persistent ad that blocked you from viewing online content on your phone or tablet? Well, Google has had enough of it and decided that this year is they are going to do something about it. Specifically, Google is looking to crack down on disruptive interstitials (full-page pop-up ads).If your site uses disruptive interstitials to share content, your business could be one of those facing the penalty.This penalty, announced last year,  just went into effect on January 10, 2017.

First, what are interstitials again?

An interstitial refers to content that blocks you from accessing the content that you want to view or listen to. The term means “something that gets in between”. In marketing, this refers to content (usually advertising) that gets in between a person’s first click and the content they want to access.

Interstitial ads come into two types, prestitial ads and interstitial ads. Prestitial ads pop up when a user reaches the homepage or welcome page of a website. Interstitial ads pop up on any page that isn’t the welcome page or home page.

Businesses use interstitials to gain information from their customers or display information (usually advertising). Since the audience is right there, customers have no choice but to wait or complete some kind of action to get to where they want. That means there’s a higher chance that your potential customer saw your ad.

OK, so what does Google mean by “disruptive” mean?

First, let’s clarify. Google isn’t going after mobile banners or other pop-ups (like call-to-actions).

Interstitial ads fall into the category of disruptive marketing, like banners and pop-ups, but they have one difference.  They don’t block all of the content a person is trying to view. Google argues that blocking all of the content from a user before they even see it results in a ‘poor user experience”

There are some exceptions to this penalty, however, which you can find below.

Has anyone felt the impact of a mobile pop-up penalty? What are my chances?

Actually yes, there have been some selected incidents. Glenn Gabe, an Internet marketing expert and Google certified partner, has verified that some sites have already lost their rankings. To view the results, click here.

Glenn Gabe cautions, however, that we’re still in the early stages of this change, so a bigger impact can’t be determined yet.

What should I do? 5 Steps to Prep Yourself Right Now for the Penalty

1. Know the rules

Google provides details on what is considered a “disruptive interstitial” on their Google Webmaster Central announcement. In that article, they claim that mobile interstitial ads that fall under the penalty:

  • Block a person from viewing the entire website or app content
  • Requires the users to dismiss something before they can view the website or content
  • Imitates the look of the page a person is trying to view

2. Know the exceptions

Google gives a few exceptions to the penalty. Those exceptions are:

  • Legality: If you are legally required to interrupt a user before they view your content (such as age verification or a cookie policy).
  • Private content:  If your content isn’t freely available (such as an article that people must pay to view), that’s acceptable.
  • Reasonable space:  If your interstitial ad, banner, or whatever pops on the screen, it should allow a person to view the majority of the content they are looking for. It should also have an option to close or remove the content (your ad or banner) if the customer does not want to see it. For details on acceptable space, see Google’s article on the topic.
  • Exit popups  Do you have a popup that appears when someone leaves your site? That’s still OK.
  • Push notifications: These take up only a small portion of the screen, so they’re cool.

Be aware that this penalty does not apply to the entire site, just the page on which an interstitial ad appears.

3. Use other forms of advertising (call-to-actions, banners, etc.

Google’s penalty only refers to mobile interstitial ads. This means you can still use interstitial ads on desktop computers. It also means that you can still use other forms of popup advertising. Just make sure that it does not block the entire page.

Try these options instead:

4. Check & test your settings 

Certain sites, like WordPress, have plugins that may increase your chances of getting a penalty. Check your settings on these sites to see if there are plugins that might create disruptive ads for your mobile users. Test them out to verify that your settings are not disruptive.

5. Adapt and experiment 

 This Google penalty will not be the last. As Google continues to evolve, more penalties will surely follow. Adapting to Google’s policies can be time-consuming and possibly difficult, but it is the nature of business. Your goal in business is not to stay attached to one way of doing things. That’s a recipe for failure. Your goal in business should be to thrive. Your business thrives when it continues to evolve with the world, not against it. If your business is not affected by the Google penalty, carry on. If it is, use this time now to prepare your strategy to diversify, adapt, and evolve.SaveSave