The New York Times has started to use intrusive ad formats for users of its iPhone news app, with full screen interstitial ads appearing between pages.
These ads can be pretty annoying on the internet, so will they discourage iPhone owners from using your app?
Many apps are given away free, especially from publishers, so its
understandable that they want want to use advertising to make some
money from, or cover the cost of apps.
Indeed, according to a recent Admob study, most free apps aren’t making any money, just the top 5% of apps, which is likely to include the NYT app.
Much of the advertising I have seen on apps so far has been
unintrusive, such as this ad for Ralph Lauren, which doesn’t interfere
with the content:
However, interstitials, as routinely demonstrated on Forbes.com, are
one of the more sucky online advertising formats, even if they can be bypassed.
If I see such an ad format on a site I’m visiting, I’ll immediately
hit the back button, as many other web users would. Perhaps there are
some stats somewhere that show that such intrusive ads are effective, but I haven’t seen any, and I suspect that many clicks are accidental.
Here’s the NYT ad from its app; though it does give users the chance to close the ad, it still sucks:
While most apps I have used tend to prefer the banner ad format used
in the first NYT app screenshot above. I have noticed one or two other
interstitials on apps.
Words with Friends is a free Scrabble-based app which, unlike sister
app Chess with Friends, uses intrusive ad formats. It is free, so users
will put up with a certain amount of advertising in return, but they
can be pushed too far.
In this app, an interstitial appears after every single move,
advertising albums for download from iTunes, which doesn’t give you any
clue how to avoid it, until you figure out that clicking at the bottom
brings up options to download or skip:
In my case, such intrusive ads displayed so frequently were enough
to stop me using the app and delete it, and perhaps I wasn’t the only
While these ads are annoying on the internet, they are even worse
for the user experience on a mobile. If you are looking to read some
news on variable mobile internet connections, loading up full-page ads
like this wastes time and could end up being a source of frustration
for many users.
It remains to be seen how effective or otherwise this ad format
proves to be for mobile users, but I would advise publishers and app
developers to think carefully before spoiling the user experience like this.