Android interstitial ads

Best practices to optimize your Android app's earnings

Interstitial ads are full-screen ads that show up in your Android app. This post will tell you more about why you should use interstitial ads, what different kinds there are, and will end with some tips on how to make the most money with them.

Why use interstitial ads in your Android app?

Compared to other ad formats, interstitial ads have some desirable properties:

  • The full-screen display allows for an attractive presentation. Some examples are:
    • A short description of an app, with icons and screenshots
    • A big image for a product the user might want to buy
    • A large video for a branding ad, for instance for a luxury car
    • A playable ad: a small mini-game so that a user can try out a game before he installs it
  • The full-screen display also guarantees a certain level of engagement of the user with the ad. This high engagement explains why interstitial ads have much higher earnings per impression (eCPM) than for instance banner ads, which can be easily ignored.
  • Interstitial ads are a universal format. Almost all ad networks provide them, and therefore it's possible to let different ad networks compete for the available interstitial spaces in your app. A mediation solution can do this automatically for you and optimize your eCPM that way.
  • Because interstitials are showing up between different screens of your application, your application's layouts don't have to change at all and don have to reserve any space for the ads. The intermittent showing of ads also means that your users aren't seeing ads all the time, but only for the short time that the interstitial shows up.

Interstitials also have some drawbacks:

  • It can be a challenge to figure out what the best place is to show an interstitial ('placement'). An ideal moment is a natural break in your application so that users don't feel they are being interrupted while in the middle of an important task. An excellent example of a proper placement can be after finishing a level of a game, or after submitting a post on a social network post. At that moment, the task at hand had just ended, and the user can shift his attention to the advertisement that's showing.
  • Users may perceive the full-screen advertisements as disrupting what they were doing, especially when the placement that we talked about in the previous point is not done very well.
  • Interstitials are surpassed in engagement by 'rewarded' ads, which usually are triggered at a user's request.

What kinds of interstitial ads are there for Android?

As "interstitial ad" only specifies that the ad's size is the full screen, there is no real limit to what can be on an interstitial ad. There is a wide variety of types of content that can be on an interstitial, of payment models that determine which actions by the user will result in payment to you, and especially many companies that provide implementations for these ads.

To name a couple of companies that provide interstitial ads for your Android app:

  • AppBrain. Of course, we're biased, and we wouldn't be writing this guide if we didn't do something with full-screen ads ourselves. The AppBrain SDK main ad format is the interstitial. Our interstitials are always showing apps that might be interesting to your users. The payment model is cost-per-install (CPI), which means that you get paid when the user clicks and then installs the app that's shown.
  • Admob. Admob by Google is probably the best-known ad network. Their interstitial can display a wide variety of ads, for instance, text ads, branded image ads, videos, app-install ads, and even ads that prompt the user to make an in-app purchase in your app (if you have them). We provide direct integration with Admob mediation if you use them already.
  • Facebook Audience Network. Facebook is also a well-known provider of interstitial ads. Facebook has an interface on their dashboard where you can choose yourself what their 'fill rate' should be. The fill rate means how often Facebook will show an ad compared to the number of times your app requests it. If you set the fill rate slider to a low setting, your users will see fewer ads, and Facebook tries to show those ads in the most valuable places. This is quite comparable to what the "maybeShowInterstitial" method does in the AppBrain SDK.
  • AppLovin. AppLovin is another big ad network that has interstitials among their ad options. You can choose between static and video interstitials.

How to get the most out of interstitials

  1. Evaluate different placements for your interstitials. Because the interstitial interrupts the flow of your application, it's essential that it's showing at the right moment. If a user is too engaged in your app, he will experience the ad as an annoying interruption. If the user is not engaged at all, he may not pay attention to the ad or close your app altogether when an interstitial comes up. The best way to know what works well for your app is to try out different placements as an A/B test so you can use data to determine which one works better.
  2. Optimize the fill rate for your ads. Using AppBrain's "maybeShowInterstitial" or Facebook's fill slider you can easily make interstitials show up at a reduced rate so that users won't be annoyed and will pay more attention to the ads because they show up more as a surprise than as a fixed thing between two screens. You can of course also code randomizing logic to show interstitials yourself, but the integrated methods from AppBrain & Facebook have as an advantage that they use optimized filtering, where mostly impressions with low expected earnings are skipped, and not the ones that earn the most money.
  3. Always preload your interstitials. When your network has a preload function, use it! When the interstitial shows up and still needs to load for a long time, this will dramatically reduce your earnings. With preload functionality, the interstitial usually loads quickly, so a user doesn't have to wait to see what's coming up on the screen that he didn't ask for.

How AppBrain can make your Android app more successful: