The End of Mobile Pop-Up Ads

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You’ve seen them before: pop-up ads that appear on your screen, unprompted, soliciting your business and siphoning precious seconds from your life as you wait to close the text box. They may last 5 seconds, or 30, but it’s often long enough to be annoying, especially when the ad bears no relevance to your needs and lacks context.

Marketers beware: Google’s algorithm will now reduce the visibility of sites that use mobile pop-up Ads.

Online marketers and businesses are being challenged to find more effective ways of engagement with consumers, as search engines are being optimized to reduce the visibility of mobile sites that fail to comply.

If you’re a business owner, how will this affect your marketing strategy and what are the alternatives?

The Beginning of the End: Pop-up Penalty

Google is sounding the death-knell of mobile pop-up ads. According to their latest Mobilegeddon update, interstitial pages, including content that obscures information on a page, reduces the quality of a user’s experience. Frustration and resentment quickly follows, prompting users to either depart or bounce to another site with fewer distractions and obstructions.

To encourage businesses to produce better content, Google has announced that the use of specific types of mobile pop-up ads can result in a reduced ranking for specific pages.  While certain pop-ups are a legal necessity (age of consent, permission to solicit), pop-up ads that lack page relevance or user relevance, will now be penalized.

Why the Change?

Beginning in 2014, Google began rolling out updates to its algorithm that encouraged businesses to optimize their websites for multiple platforms, particularly mobile.  Faster load times, layout, copy, and ads organized for the greatest efficiency on a mobile screen became important ranking factors.

Mobilegeddon is an update to Google’s core algorithm that examines and ranks pages for their responsiveness and ease of access. According to Google’s own research, pop-up ads, particularly ones that required the user to download an app, became a growing concern. Interstitial pages that obscure online content from the user create a negative user experience.

Mind The Gap: Consumer Response to Pop-Up Ads

A recent article for examined a number of key consumer trends revealed by KPCB’s Internet Trends Report.  Prepared by Mary Meeker for KPCB, the data suggests that there is a gap in understanding between users and businesses when it comes to how mobile technology impacts user experience.

As consumers increasingly spend more time on their smartphones searching and shopping for local services, search engines are shifting their focus to the mobile platform, refining their algorithms to provide users with the most relevant results from the most trusted sources on the web. If your content is obstructed by pop-up ads, oversized banners or interstitial pages, your ranking in mobile search results will fall.

Are Mobile Pop-Ups Effective?

Pop-ups are a popular marketing tool for many businesses, and they generate high CPM’s, which means measurable ROI. The down-side, however, is that conversion rates remain relatively low.

The vast majority of online visits to a website originate from a laptop or desktop. Conversion rates for e-commerce by smartphone (add-to-cart clicks) are among the lowest, when compared to other devices:

E-Commerce Conversion Rates 2014 – 2015 (comScore)


Published April 16, 2016, by Dave Chaffey

What is significant for marketers and business owners is that a growing number of searches begin on a mobile device. 48 per cent of mobile users engage their mobile phone for product reviews, research and comparison shopping, using a search engine. Another 33 per cent of mobile searches begin on a branded website.

What Device Is Popular with Your Customers?

Are you tracking mobile visitors vs. desktop to your domain? Do you know which platform your customers prefer (tablet, pc, laptop, smartphone)?  The statistics compiled by comScore offer valuable insights to global consumer trends, but each industry, as well as market segment, is unique. General trends tend to be the same across several verticals, but you’ll want to craft a marketing strategy that reflects the actual behaviour of your audience, particularly local.

Invest In Content Creation

Strategic content creation is the key to marketing your business online effectively. Content that attracts users, generates discussion, and motivates social sharing is the best way to market your brand and grow your share of market.

For more helpful SEO tips like these, be sure to follow Paul Teitelman – Toronto’s link building expert.

About the Author

Paul Teitelman - SEO Consultant

Paul is a well-respected Canadian SEO consultant and link-building expert with over 15 years of experience helping hundreds of companies rank for competitive keywords on Google. He is a Toronto-based SEO consultant who is passionate about search engine optimization and link building. Over the years, he has made a reputation for himself as a leader in the industry by consistently delivering phenomenal results to his growing client base.