It’s not uncommon to land on a mobile site these days and be invited to download the site’s mobile app from your phone’s app store.
That’s called an app download interstitial, and Google is asking people to reconsider using them.
While they may seem like an effective promotional tool for your app, Google argues that they create unnecessary friction for your mobile visitors.
In fact, Google has come out so strongly against app download interstitials that it’s leading by example. The company is no longer inviting people to download the Google+ app when accessing Google+ via a mobile browser.
Google reached the decision to do this after looking at internal user experience studies which identified interstitials as poor user experiences.
Studies on the Google+ interstitial page revealed that it only converted 9% of people who landed on it.
In addition, 69% of the visitors decided to abandon the interstitial page after landing on it. This meant visitors were being turned off from downloading the app and continuing to visit the mobile site
Google ran an experiment last year to find out if removing the interstitial page would affect overall product usage. After replacing the interstitial with a Smart App Banner, which Google says is less intrusive, visits to the mobile site on the first day were up 17%.
However, app installs were unaffected by this change. Removing the interstitial did not lead to more app downloads, but it led to fewer mobile visitors abandoning the webpage.
Google says that was enough for the company to decide to permanently retire the interstitial, while leaving this advice for everyone:
We believe that the increase in users on our product makes this a net positive change, and we are sharing this with the hope that you will reconsider the use of promotional interstitials. Let’s remove friction and make the mobile web more useful and usable!
Not to read too much into this, but when Google comes out as being for or against something it’s usually not something that should be taken lightly.
Is it possible Google will start to devalue mobile pages with app download interstitials? Too early to say at this point, but as it stands the search giant is clearly not a fan of them.