Interstitial Ads. (© NicoElNino -
Interstitial Ads. (© NicoElNino -

The term interstitial as it relates to advertising and marketing, is normally referring to the use of ads designed in a particular way for a mobile app. These ads are among the most effective both as a means of monetization for app developers and as a way for advertisers and marketers to reach a large audience. Let’s take a look at what these ads are.

If you use an Android or iOS device on a regular basis, then chances are you will have encountered interstitial ads often. The only question is whether or not you realized that that was what they were called.

Interstitial ads are, in short, ads that show between screens during an application. These ‘screens’ are in fact more accurately known in developer terms as ‘activities’ but in short, they are self-contained modules within an app and users will normally switch between these during use.

For instance, if you were to play a game, then the menu, the pause screen, the options menu and the game itself would all likely be stored in separate ‘activities’. A music player might store the player and the file select screens as separate activities.

With an interstitial ad, the adverts will show in-between these screens and fill the entire screen. However, in some cases, the ads can be introduced even where there isn’t a real change of activity. This will normally occur during natural break-points in the app, for instance in-between levels, or when the player dies.

Other Options

The easiest way to understand the benefits of interstitial ads is to consider how they compare with the alternatives. Interstitial ads are just one form of advertisement that can show on a mobile app. Others include banner apps that might show at the bottom of the page for instance.

These banner ads are in many ways inferior to interstitial ads. From the perspective of the user, they can actually bemore of a nuisance, seeing as they cover up the screen while they are interacting with the app for its main function: whether that be to play a game or to manage files.

From the perspective of the developer, banner ads don’t tend to be very lucrative. These ads will almost always be ‘PPC’ or Pay Per Click meaning that they only benefit the developer if someone actually clicks on them. Most people don’t want to click on the ad, seeing as they are playing a game. And seeing as the payout for developers per click is normally only a few cents, this isn’t generally a terribly profitable option.

Even the advertisers themselves don’t benefit all that much from these types of ads, seeing as they often get ignored by users who would rather just focus on the game or the app.

Interstitial ads on the other hand only appear at natural breakpoints, meaning they can speak to the audience when they are not deep in concentration or thought. They likewise tend to fill the entire screen, thereby giving the user no way to ‘miss’ them. And finally, they will tend to pay out per view – meaning that the developer is guaranteed some payoutas long as they have the users.

Other Monetization Options for Apps

That said, there are other ways you can monetize an app. For instance, you can simply sell the app for a fixed price. While this might not always be as profitable (owing to the fact that many users resent paying for their apps), it can be very effective in the right circumstances: for instance if you have a premium game then people will like to feel they ‘own’ the game. In fact, in some cases, users will actually buy games and never get around to playing them! This would never happen if you had only ads on the app for making the money.

Then there is the option to include both

  • a paid
  • and a free version.

Commonly, this will give the user the option to remove ads by paying to get rid of them. In other cases, it might mean offering an ad-free version in the store. The latter option also has the advantage of almost guaranteeing good reviews for the paid app. That’s because people will only buy the app if they had a good experience with the free version, meaning they are sure to have a good experience with the paid one and to write a positive review!

OpenPR tip: There are more options besides. One of the most popular of all right now for instance is to sell some kind of digital ‘good’ through the app. These are called ‘in-app purchases’ and they are perhaps more successful than you might expect.

Who Should Use Mobile Apps

The remaining question is whether advertising on mobile apps is right for your business at all. And the answer to that will ultimately always come down to what it is your business is trying to sell. You might be looking to sell a mobile app yourself, in which case this is the ideal place to put your ad.

Otherwise though, consider the target demographic. Adverts placed in apps are likely to appeal to a wide audience, seeing as anyone can enjoy a game of Angry Birds or Clash of Clans. At the same time though, these people are unlikely to want interruptions prompting them to spend big money while they’re playing a game. Most of us don’t like buying on our phones if it involves entering credit or debit card details and at this point, the customer isn’t likely to be highly receptive to the marketing message. In other words, they aren’t looking for your product and they probably don’t want to be interrupted!

On the other hand though, we do tend to play games in the evenings or when we are generally bored and at this point, we are more likely to make impulsive purchasing decisions – so this is something you could potentially benefit from with a well placed and timed advert.

Don’t rule out mobile ads!


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