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Better Ad Standards Benefit Advertisers and Consumers Alike

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If you’ve been interrupted by fewer intrusive ads during your web browsing over the last 12 months or so, you probably have the Coalition for Better Ads to thank for improving your desktop and mobile-browsing experiences.

And, if you’re an online advertiser who has been seeing better ROI from your ads over the past year, the Coalition’s work might be the reason for that improvement, too.  That’s because both consumers and advertisers are benefiting from the Coalition’s efforts to identify the types of online ads that consumers find most intrusive and encourage adoption of better practices.

The Coalition was formed in 2016 with the goal of setting standards for ads that are more acceptable for internet users and provide a better user experience when anyone sees or interacts with a digital ad. Its creation was a logical and necessary response to both the growing intrusiveness of online ads and to consumer’s increasing reliance on software to block them – reliance that could have posed an existential threat to the online advertising industry.

“Remember how important ad blocker extensions were a few years ago?’ asks Jessica Janda at Weidert. “You couldn’t browse the web in peace without intrusive, annoying advertisements popping up on your screen and slowing your pages down. By 2016, it’s calculated that 30% of online devices were using ad-blocking software, including more than 300 million mobile devices. Their necessity was truly a testament to how bad the ad experience used to be – and you could say online ads were about as favorable with consumers as telemarketers.”
The Coalition’s founding member companies and trade groups included Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Procter & Gamble, Unilever, the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4As), the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), and IAB Europe. It has since grown to comprise 51 members and 82 affiliates.

The Coalition’s voluntary Better Ads Experience Program uses this framework to certify web publishers that agree not to use the most disruptive ads it identifies. It also accredits browsers and advertising technology companies to assess publishers’ compliance with the Standards and filter digital ads based on them.

In an indication of the Coalition’s significant reach and impact, Google last year introduced a Chrome ad blocker to filter out ads that violate standards created by the Coalition – news that was deemed important enough to be reported by Scientific American.

The Coalition’s research, which involved more than 25,000 consumers, identified the following types of desktop ad experiences as not measuring up to its Better Ads Standard:

  • Pop-up ads
  • Auto-play video ads with sound
  • Prestitial ads with countdown
  • Large sticky ads

For the mobile web environment, the following types of ad experiences fall beneath the 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
  • Large sticky ads

Details of research findings related to each type of ad are available here.

“The goal of the Better Ads Standards is to create a more user-friendly experience which should lead to more users clicking on the ads and creating more value to the advertisers,” writes Janda. “That being said, there will be continuous changes and learnings from the research the Coalition is gathering, which means in a few years these standards could very well change again. If you want to stay ahead of the curve, it’s up to your agency or marketing department to be knowledgeable about the new changes, and how you can make the necessary adjustments to ensure your website is in line with the Better Ads Standards.”

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