What are interstitials in web advertising?

Trish Manrique Ad Monetization

In October 2020, Google launched web interstitials for mobile and desktop web, and allowing publishers using Google Ad Manager can easily activate this ad format. Web interstitials are a significant revenue opportunity for publishers, and especially after the impact of COVID, this is a great way for publishers to maximize their ad revenue.

What is an interstitial ad?

Sortable now supports Google’s new interstitial ad product which provides publishers with a new revenue stream by showing users an ad between some pageviews. It is initiated when a user clicks a relevant link on one page and the user sees the ad before they can view the page for which they’ve clicked a link. The ad appears directly in front of the page that the user was just on (while the page behind it is blurry or blacked out); after closing the ad, the user will be directed to the page they want to navigate to.

Users can click the “X” in the top right corner of the ad, or outside the ad overlay, to close it and proceed to the webpage for which they’ve clicked a link. Interstitial ads do not involve a time component; users can click to dismiss the ad immediately. If the user chooses to click on the ad, depending on the creative itself, this should open a new tab. The ad will still be visible in the previous tab. 

What are the benefits of using web interstitial ads?

Since making web interstitial ads available to our Sortable Hosted publishers, we’ve seen three key benefits so far.

Improved session RPM – With interstitial ads being a high-quality user experience, this type of ad format is seen more by users and thus, the overall value of the individual session for that user to the publisher increases. With higher session RPMs, advertisers are willing to pay a premium for these impressions.

Take, for example, Publisher A, who prior to launching web interstitials with Sortable, had session RPMs just above $10. After launching interstitials on November 19, their session RPM more than doubled ($11 and change on Nov. 18 versus $25 on Nov. 20).

Increased CPMs – Google’s beta partners have seen CPMs of up to $20 on their sites. While results may vary (depending on publisher or domain), we have seen interstitial ads become a significant revenue opportunity for Sortable’s publishers. As you can see from the graph below, Site C is seeing average CPMs of over $20 for interstitial ads, which is 20x their average for banner display ads.  

Increased revenue – With the improved session RPMs and CPMs, some of our publishers have seen significant revenue growth with web interstitials. While revenue growth will vary from site to site, Publisher B’s (below) ad revenue increased by 220% in the first five days of launching interstitials, and we’ve continued to see an increase for this particular publisher. 

No work required by the publisher – It is absolutely zero effort required on your end to enable interstitials — we handle it all! Web interstitial ads are applied to all Sortable Hosted sites unless the publisher has explicitly opted out. 

How do web interstitial ads impact user experience?

In terms of what the user sees, it is a full-page ad that displays between pageviews for users on both mobile and desktop browsers. While the ad itself may not cover the whole screen, the page it is “covering” may appear blurred or blacked out. The user can close the ad at any time to continue to the next page. 

If you’re concerned about the impact of interstitial ads on user experience, this is Google’s response. These ads:

  • Automatically pre-load with no delay in rendering.
  • Have a clear exit option.
  • Have a fixed frequency cap — you can show an ad to a user only once per hour per sub-domain.
  • Match Google Search standards for avoiding intrusiveness.

Desktop example of a web interstitial ad

Mobile example of a web interstitial ad

How can I report on interstitial ads?

With our Sortable Analytics platform, you can easily create a Performance Report and use Ad Format as a dimension to track revenue on your site(s). Unfamiliar with what Sortable Analytics can do? We have a webinar dedicated to walking you through the capabilities of our analytics and reporting platform. Watch it here

Who can use interstitial ads?

At Sortable, only our Hosted customers can currently take advantage of this new product. Contact us at success@sortable.com to activate interstitial ads on your site(s).


Interested in learning more about web interstitials? Check out our Knowledge Base article here. Are you looking to monetize your site with web interstitials? Get started by booking a demo with our team.