Google has taken measures to combat aggressive and intrusive pop-up ads, announcing that websites that employ such tactics will be penalized with lower Google Search rankings. Known in the industry as interstitial ads, these cyber-pestilences usually materialize right before or after users access a web page and prompt them to subscribe or like something on Facebook.
Google, like other tech giants such as Twitter and Facebook, has been working to improve the user experience on its platform, not only by promoting informative and relevant search results, but also by diminishing the prominence of websites deemed pesky and user-unfriendly. The importance of user experience is heightened in mobile contexts, where websites that are not mobile-friendly or feature scrolling ads can be hellacious ordeals to users with thick-thumbs and small screens.
“Pages that show intrusive interstitials provide a poorer experience to users than other pages where content is immediately accessible. This can be problematic on mobile devices where screens are often smaller,” the company noted in a press statement. “To improve the mobile search experience, after January 10, 2017, pages where content is not easily accessible to a user on the transition from the mobile search results may not rank as highly.”
The Verge notes that, given how many parameters are used to determine search rankings, Google’s policy may not make its influence felt immediately. That is to say that the presence of interstitial ads may not necessarily be make a break for a website’s search rankings, especially if that site is peerless in its niche. On the other hand, it could re-shape the advertising tactics of publishers in the long run.