Back in April, Google started prioritizing mobile-friendly websites in its mobile search results with a tweaked algorithm, which means sites without a mobile version got demoted in search ranking. Now, Google is gunning for sites with disruptive app-install interstitial ads, announcing its plan to start demoting those site in mobile search results starting November 1. It’s a curious choice on Google’s part to target only the app-install ads, presumably due to the fact that Google would prefer users to stay within mobile web, where it gets most of its ad revenue from and has more control over, instead of dispatching into various apps.
What Brands Should Do
Regardless of Google’s agenda, the fact stands that disruptive full-page pop-up or interstitial ads are annoying and detrimental to the user experience, especially so on the limited screen space of mobile devices. Therefore, brands need to make sure the app-install ads they serve are up to Google’s standard, so as not to be penalized in mobile search results. In the long run however, as mobile web continues to decline and users spending more and more time in apps, brands and digital publishers may need to consider alternative content distribution channels, such as Facebook’s Instant Articles or Snapchat Discover, or even developing their own apps in order to reach and engage with consumers on mobile.