Interstitials and their Relevance to Website Content: Influence on Website Credibility
Student researcher

Carmen Stavrositu (Graduate Student)
This paper was presented at the 54th annual conference of the International Communication Association, New Orleans, LA, 2004.

Faculty Supervisor

Dr. S. Shyam Sundar


Interstitials are perceived as some of the most intrusive and frustrating Web ads.

research question

Does relevance have the potential of alleviating this negative affect? Do they shape only attitudes toward the ad, or also perceptions of the Websites hosting them?


A study (N = 44) was conducted to answer these questions, by investigating whether perceptions of Website credibility vary as a function of the type of interstitials present on a Website (pop-up vs pop-under) and their relevance to the Website content. Specifically, a 2 (Relevance) X 2 (Interstitials) between-participants experiment was conducted in order to determine perceptions of credibility of the Website and attitudes toward the ad.


Interstitials’ relevance proved to be a key factor in shaping attitudes not only toward the interstitials themselves, but also toward the Website hosting them. Ad relevance is more than ordinarily important in forming perceptions of the Websites hosting them. Irrespective of their type and format, when advertisements are relevant, they seem to be perceived as providing extra information to that contained on the Website, and therefore are deemed as more helpful. One very surprising finding of this study consists in the lack of main effects for Interstitials on the Aad indices, except for the Indifference one.


Results indicate that while interstitial type did not seem to have strong influence on evaluations of the ads and of the Website, their relevance played a crucial role in perceptions of both the ads and of the credibility of the Website hosting the ads.

For more details regarding the study contact

Dr. S. Shyam Sundar by e-mail at or by telephone at (814) 865-2173

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Media Effects Research Lab at College of Communications, Penn State University