Coalition for Better Ads Launches

The biggest news coming out of Dmexco was the formation of a new effort to mute the influence of ad blockers, which are now used in 25% of browsers, according to recent statistics. A coalition consisting of industry leaders like Google, Facebook, Unilever, Procter and Gamble, Group M, the World Federation of Advertisers and the IAB, calling itself The Coalition for Better Ads, launched at the conference.

IAB had already launched its own initiative, L.E.A.N. (Light, Encrypted, Ad Choice Supported, Non-interruptive) last year, and began to develop standards. At the same time, AdBLock Plus, the largest downloadable ad blocker distributor, launched its idea of “Acceptable Ads.” AdBlock Plus spent the year trying to acquire partners for its efforts, but with little success. Finally, in its own Dmexco announcement, the company launched its own SSP to sell what it considers acceptable ads. This may or may not be successful.

The industry effort, however, probably will be, because ad blocking is the one issue that unites publishers, advertisers, and ad tech companies, all of whose business models are threatened by the unwillingness of consumers to tolerate ads after a decade of taking abuse in the form of popups, interstitials, auto-playing video ads, and even malware. The most offensive sites are so loaded with ads that the content on them cannot be read without interruptions. To make matters worse, the shift to mobile has revealed the slowness of page loads and the cost of additional data borne by now-angry consumers.

The group will focus on the following initiatives:

  • 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
  • Encourage awareness of the standards among consumers and businesses in order to ensure wide uptake and elicit feedback

Here’s an alphabetical list of the founding members. Notice that the Washington Post is the only traditional publisher to belong outside of an industry group: The American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A’s), Association of National Advertisers (AA), BVDW Germany, Digital Content Next, DMA, European Publishers Council, Facebook, Google, GroupM, IAB, IAB Europe, IAB Tech Lab, as well as additional national and regional IABs, Network Advertising Initiative (NAI), News Media Alliance, Procter & Gamble, Unilever, The Washington Post, and World Federation of Advertisers (WFA). Companies and trade associations that wish to join the Coalition can learn more at www.betterads.org.

Consumer research will be used to develop the standards.

“The foundation for any premium publisher is consumer and advertiser trust. Consumers are clearly frustrated with the current dynamic of digital advertising across the wider web. No industry has ever survived by ignoring consumer needs,” said Jason Kint, CEO, Digital Content Next.

As we always do, we hope to lead in this initiative with our “polite” formats within the ZINC Innovation Suite. However, we also think it will take much consumer education about what industry is trying to accomplish and why –the need to keep digital content free for consumers–before the industry will once again be trusted  to comply with consumer sentiment and people will turn off their ad blockers.