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Google, Facebook, IAB & major brands form Coalition for Better Ads
In response to ad blocking, a global initiative forms to set new standards and develop technology to improve ad experiences.
As ad blocking has become a bigger threat to the digital advertising industry and the publishers that rely on it, there has been talk among industry leaders to address the problems of bad ad experiences at a holistic level.
The issue became even more urgent, reaching a crescendo last year, with Apple’s move to allow ad blockers on iOS. In an interview during Advertising Week last year, Google SVP of Ads and Commerce Sridhar Ramaswamy said of the rise of ad blocking, “This is something we need to address together as an industry. We need standards of good ads that you and I would find acceptable as consumers. Ad blocking presents creative challenges and certainly a business challenge.”
This week at the DMEXCO conference in Germany, that industry-wide effort was unveiled. The Coalition for Better Ads is an effort of 16 companies and trade groups to fix the digital advertising experience. Founding members include Google, Facebook, GroupM, Procter & Gamble, Unilever and The Washington Post, as well as associations such as the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), IAB Europe, the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4As), the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) and the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA).
“Our members recognize that there is room for improvement with the current consumer online advertising experience, as indicated in part by the emergence of ad blocking,” said Nancy Hill, president and CEO of the 4As. “Now is the time for advertising professionals and marketers to look at ourselves to understand why consumers are not responding to these types of ads, and figure out how we can correct the issue to better engage with the consumers we’re trying to reach.”
In announcing the new group, the Coalition stated its initial tasks are to:
- create consumer-based, data-driven standards that companies in the online advertising industry can use to improve the consumer ad experience;
- in conjunction with the IAB Tech Lab, develop and deploy technology to implement these standards; and
- encourage awareness of the standards among consumers and businesses in order to ensure wide uptake and elicit feedback.
The group said it will use consumer research to inform the new standards.
In October last year, the IAB acknowledged adtech’s role in what has lead users to install ad blockers (“We messed up. As technologists, tasked with delivering content and services to users, we lost track of the user experience.”), and launched the L.E.A.N. Ads program. Created by the IAB Tech Lab, the program, an acronym for “light, encrypted, ad choice supported, non-invasive ads,” proposed a set of standards such as frequency capping and appropriate targeting for retargeting, the number of ads per page and continued focus on viewability.
In the US, some 69.8 million Americans will use an ad blocker this year, an increase of 34.4 percent from 2015, according to eMarketer.
A PageFair report found 22 percent of smartphone users globally use ad blockers and estimated that ad blocking leads to $22 billion in lost revenue annually.