All about interstitial ads: Learn about these high-impact formats!

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What Are Interstitial Ads?

Interstitial ads are an ad format that offers a full-screen takeover, usually in-app. Interstitial mobile ad formats tend to play during periods of transition — such as between levels of a mobile game, during load screens, or at the top of webpages — so they are considered less intrusive to users. The ads offer a great opportunity to leverage full-screen creative elements, and are often more interactive or involved than other ad formats. For example, many interstitial ads leverage “playable” elements, rich media elements, or video. As a result, these ads tend to be highly successful for advertisers and engaging for users.

What Are Types of Interstitial Ad Formats?

Interstitial Banner Ads

Unlike pop-up banner ads, interstitial banner ads fill the entire screen and are clickable. Users have the option of following the ad to a new landing page or closing the ad to return to the original content. Some ads are even expandable, transforming from small banner ads to interactive, full-screen interstitials. These ad units are more interactive, offering users the choice to expand the initial banner ads if the displayed ad content interests them. This leads to a higher click-through rate and engagement rate with the segmented audience, thus making the inventory more attractive to publishers.

Rewarded Video Ads

Who doesn’t love rewarded video ads? As their name suggests, these engaging ads reward users for interacting with the ad creative. Users must opt in to gain rewards, meaning they are actively choosing to engage with the advertisement. Frequently used in mobile gaming applications, rewarded video ads can grant users access to new game levels and gaming bonuses like coins, lives, items, and more. To earn the reward in the in-app environment, users must watch the video ad to completion. As a result, these ads offer strong engagement rates and perform well for KPIs like video completion rate.

Plus, rewarded video ads help boost brand sentiment for both the advertiser and the publisher. For the publisher, rewarding users helps them better tolerate in-game ads, helping boost in-app monetization. And — because they are gaining rewards that are actually usable — these users tend to prefer the rewarded video ad format over other types of ads.

For the advertiser, brand sentiment benefits from users who appreciate the added control over their advertising experience, and they tend to view these ads as less disruptive and less intrusive.

Rich Media Units

Rich Media Units

Rich media ads go beyond simple visuals to engage the user. While rich media advertisements are available in various formats, many are video- and audio-based, making them more difficult to ignore. Rich media ads can also be interactive. While some interstitials are static, rich media offers movement (sometimes animation) that can help make interstitials really pop, making them more appealing, interactive, and engaging for the device user. As a result, rich media units tend to help boost publisher revenue.

What makes rich media possible? The secret is MRAID. The mobile rich media ad interface, or MRAID, is a set of commands used by developers to communicate the functionality of rich media advertisements using JavaScript, HTML5, etc.

Playable Ads

Playable ads are an interstitial ad format that allows users to try out a level on a game or otherwise engage with the ad itself. Sometimes referred to as playable branded downloadable content (DLC), these are highly interactive and engaging, and are especially popular in the gaming app industry. Why? Playable ads help drive user acquisition campaigns by giving users a taste of a game before downloading the app. This gives gaming apps a chance to showcase their app and gets users hooked on the gameplay. As a result, this ad format can help drive app downloads and also helps boost brand sentiment, as users feel more in control of their advertising experience by opting into the interactive ad. In fact, recent reports from eMarketer showed that many gamers actually enjoyed the game more after engaging with DLC ads.

Benefits of Interstitial Ads for Marketers

Interstitials are more than just audience-friendly ads. Marketers and advertisers who incorporate interstitial ads into their media mix reap many objective and subjective benefits. How do interstitial ads help marketers? Here are a few reasons:

  • Combat banner blindness. Interstitial ad formats are inherently difficult to ignore, and their placement tends to reach users while they are fresh.
  • Improve viewability and engagement. Interstitial ads tend to perform better in terms of views and engagement than traditional ad formats.
  • Streamline the click-through experience. The larger ad formats make for a smoother, more pleasant UX, especially since interstitial ads often appear during load screens or at the top of a page.
  • Offer meaningful touchpoints to lift brand sentiment. Users actually like certain interstitial ad formats like playable ads or rewarded video ads. Choosing interstitial ads means creating an opportunity to provide value to the device user and foster positive association for the brand.

Why Do Publishers Love Interstitial Ads?

When marketers get higher engagement, they’re willing to pay more for an ad space. As a result, these highly engaging interstitial ad formats tend to drive better eCPMs, which means more revenue for publishers. As a value part of a monetization strategy, interstitial ads can help deliver a better UX on both mobile and web inventory, and grant users more control over their experience — which, in turn, boosts engagement. Talk about a win-win.

Most Effective Strategies for Interstitial Advertising

When it comes to choosing which interstitial ads are best for you, there is no right or wrong answer. It is important to note that interstitial ads can be a valuable tool for monetizing your app, provided they are designed with consideration for user interaction. Publishers monetizing their app should consider three important factors in order to maintain steady user retention: Position, Timing, and Frequency.


Let’s take gaming publishers as an example. If you’re a gaming publisher, finding the best spot to display interstitial ads in your game flow requires a lot of A/B testing. Evidently, interstitial ads that have a smooth transition are more likely to be successful. It’s common for game designers to display these ads before or after leveling up, or mid-level. Use A/B testing to uncover when in the game the user interacts with the ad most without becoming frustrated. Mixing in user-preferred formats like rewarded ads or playable ads can help the ad breaks feel less like interruptions and more like welcome opportunities to rack up extra points.


Once you’ve established the best location for the ads, it is time to consider the duration of the interstitial ads. There is no doubt that the interstitial advertisements must run within a reasonable time frame. This can be a tricky balance to strike: Ads must be long enough for the message, but short enough that users don’t mind seeing the ad. To avoid unnecessary user frustration, it is also important to ensure that interstitial ads are light enough to load quickly.


Last but not least, keep in mind the frequency with which you will be showing the ads. A fully ad-supported game should still have a good balance of ads to content. Some ad-supported games contain more advertisements than gameplay, which can irritate users and prevent retention. Striking the right balance can help drive a successful monetization strategy while ensuring user retention.

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To learn about adding interstitial ad formats to your monetization strategy, or to reach audiences around the world using these ad formats, get in touch with our team!

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