The ad network giant has launched a new interstitial ad unit for mobile sites.
I was browsing my admin pages in Adsense today when a banner ad informed me that Google is testing two new mobile ad units. One is a small persistent ad that clings to the bottom of the screen, while the other is an interstitial ad (it appears after you click a link on a site to visit another page on the same site).
The ads will only show up on some mobile devices; the Silk browser on my Kindle Fire isn't supported. The new ads are also opt-in, and require that the web publisher add code to their site. But when they do show up, the interstitial ad will look something like this when viewed from a smartphone:
So much for insisting on a good user experience.
This type of ad is one of the more annoying parts of the mobile experience, which is why (for as long as I have used Adsense) Google has discouraged web publishers from putting Adsense ads on interstitial pages. In fact, Google's own beginner's guide to Adsense specifically mentions this type of ad and tells you not to do it.
But now Google has ignored its own instructions, proving once and for all that even in a company which used to have the motto "Don't be evil", money is still ultimately the boss.
Google flipflopped on this issue because one, Google gets most of its revenue from selling ads, and two, they ran out of places to put those ads.
If Google wants to keep analysts and stockholders happy, it has to keep revenues up, and that means finding new places to annoy you with ads.
This is why Google shows ads as the first and sometimes second search result (and to the right of search results), why Google started inserting similar ads in Google Play, and why they now have a couple new mobile ad units (like the one at right).
Does anyone want to guess where Google will find the next spot to insert more ads?
I would bet that Google will find a way to monetize its matched content ad unit by inserting links to advertisers. This unit isn't technically an advert - right now. Instead it currently recommends articles on whichever site it's on. It's really a "related posts" unit, but if Google replaced some of the recommendations with articles from other sites then Google will be able to sell the links as adverts.
Edit: And apparently Google is already selling those links as adverts. Artem R of Android Police pointed out that the FAQ for this ad unit mentions an "allow ads" option. I can't enable that option, which means it's in a limited beta test.
For reference, Taboola and OutBrain have similar ad units. (You can find an example on Liliputing, if you like.) I have tried a couple and found them to be unproductive, but it's pretty clear that Google disagrees.