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Coalition for Better Ads Publishes New Standards

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The Coalition for Better Ads, a global industry-wide consortium representing the digital industry, has published Better Ad Standards for desktop and mobile web that reflect consumer advertising preferences in North American and European markets.

The initial Better Ads Standards are based on comprehensive research in which consumers comparatively ranked different ad experiences presented to them while they read online articles. More than 25,000 consumers rated 104 ad experiences for desktop web and mobile web.

The Coalition’s research identifies the ad experiences in both North America and Europe that ranked lowest across a range of user experience factors, and that are most highly correlated with an increased propensity for consumers to adopt ad blockers. These results define initial Better Ads Standards that identify the ad experiences that fall beneath a threshold of consumer acceptability.

Six desktop web ad experiences and twelve mobile web ad experiences fell beneath this threshold. The Coalition encourages the marketplace to use these results to improve the consumer experience.

“We are energized by how quickly this cross-industry Coalition was able to research and identify annoying advertising formats,” said Jason Kint, CEO of Digital Content Next. “There is still much work to be done but we are out of the gate in our work to make the web less annoying for the average consumer.”

“The scope and nature of this research provides insight into how consumers view different online ad experiences, highlighting what’s working well, and what we need to re-think in order to secure more meaningful engagement,” said Nancy Hill, President and CEO, 4As. “The consumer preferences identified in the Better Ads Standards will be useful to our members who wish to take action to improve the online experience.”

During the Coalition’s research, consumers were asked to read articles on simulated high quality content pages, and then to rate comparatively the different ad experiences they received. These consumer preference ratings, as correlated with increased consumer propensity to use ad blockers, identified the following types of desktop ad experiences beneath the initial Better Ads Standard: pop-up ads, auto-play video ads with sound, prestitial ads with countdown and large sticky ads. For the mobile web environment, the following types of ad experiences fell beneath the initial Better Ads Standard: pop-up ads, prestitial ads, ads with density greater than 30%, flashing animated ads, auto-play video ads with sound, poststitial ads with countdown, full-screen scrollover ads, and large sticky ads.

“We hope these initial standards will be a wake-up call to brands, retailers, agencies, publishers, and their technology suppliers, and that they will retire the ad formats that research proves annoy and abuse consumers,” said Randall Rothenberg, President and CEO, IAB. “If they don’t, ad blocking will rise, advertising will decline, and the marketplace of ideas and information that supports open societies and liberal economies will slide into oblivion.”

The Coalition plans a broad range of educational activities for its members and others in the industry, including presentations via participating trade associations, conference participation and webinars. By making the research widely available, the Coalition aims to encourage industry participants to incorporate the findings into their efforts to improve the online ad experience for consumers. Journalists and interested parties can learn more about the research methodology, findings and initial Better Ads Standards at betterads.org.

“This comprehensive research and these initial Better Ads Standards provide great guidance on the role ad formats have on the user experience,” said Townsend Feehan, CEO of IAB Europe. “We look forward to using the data released today to engage our members about consumer ad preferences, and to upcoming phases of the Coalition’s research that we expect will contribute even more depth and breadth of coverage of European markets.”

“Representing IAB Europe on the CFBA Policy/Communications committee has been a great opportunity for IAB Ireland. Sitting alongside the global brands, trade organisations and global publishers it has been really important to share the voice of smaller markets like Ireland who will both benefit from and contribute to the CFBA outputs,” says Suzanne McElligott, CEO of IAB Ireland.

Members and supporters of the Coalition, in alphabetical order, include the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A’s), AppNexus, Association of National Advertisers (ANA), BVDW Germany (rep. IAB Germany), Data & Marketing Association (DMA), Digital Content Next, Facebook, Google, GroupM, IAB, IAB Europe, IAB France, IAB Tech Lab, IAB UK, Network Advertising Initiative (NAI), News Corp, News Media Alliance, Omnicom Media Group, Oriel, Procter & Gamble, sovrn, Teads, The Washington Post, Thomson Reuters, Unilever, and World Federation of Advertisers (WFA). An additional 80 trade associations from around the world are also affiliates of the Coalition.