This article about mobile challenges was first published by Gavin Dunaway on

Back in August of 2016, the Google Webmaster Blog announced that come Jan. 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.”

A little cryptic, no? Google was really taking aim at a variety of mobile interstitial units. The dominant mobile search engine is threatening to lower the mobile rankings of pages that immediately serve pop-up or standalone interstitial ads when a user clicks.

This fate also would seem to apply to large units that push content below the fold on initial page load, a format that’s grown popular across desktop websites to meet rigid viewability requirements.

Taken along with the IAB’s proposed line of new standard ads that would abandon support for mobile interstitials as well as the once highly prominent Rising Stars units, it’s clear that mobile interstitials have become unit non grata across the digital advertising ecosystem. At a recent Publisher Forum, several attendees suggested the demise of the mobile interstitial was for the best, as the unit seemed detrimental to user experience.

At the same time, they admitted that they would miss the tasty CPMs. As publisher mobile web traffic continues to rise and monetization efforts remain stagnant, abandoning a steady revenue driver like the mobile interstitial is a bit like losing a limb.

It’s no secret that Facebook and Google are grabbing the lion’s share of spend in mobile. Digital publishers want more of the pot, but user experience concerns, programmatic challenges and other issues are putting a heavy damper on these efforts. However, there do seem to be a few silver linings in mobile going into 2017, including smarter, less-disruptive ad units.

Platform Publishing Will Not Save Us

The constant affirmation that users spend most of their time in just a few mobile apps have led many digital publishers to refocus their efforts on the mobile web. Although according to PageFair, mobile users have not embraced ad blockers on their browsers as much as anticipated, the fear of ad-blocking Armageddon was encouraged publishers to clean up their mobile sites and discard unwieldy units.

But still mobile user experience is marred by ad-based latency. Several major players have launched offerings that load stories and ads faster, but at a cost to publishers—namely the opportunity to monetize traffic on their direct sites. Facebook Instant Articles, Google AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages), and Apple News among others enable quick loading of content with options for advertising…

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