Advertisers agree to better online standards

A wide group of advertisers across advertising trade groups, ad buyers and sellers from Western Europe and the United States have joined together to urge the industry to move away from the annoying marketing tools that have driven millions of users to ad blockers. 

According to Reuters, this group that has dubbed itself the Coalition for Better Ads said that it was publishing its voluntary standards after a study that saw more than 25,000 people rating ads. The results of this study identified six different types of desktop web ads and 12 types of mobile ads as falling beneath a threshold of consumer acceptability. These types of ads "have already been discouraged for years by these bodies and yet are still commonplace," says Matti Littunen, research analyst at Enders Analysis focusing on digital media.

According to Dublin-based research firm PageFair, a reported 615 million devices were running ad-blockers in 2016, up 30 per cent from the previous year. That is approximately 11 per cent of devices. 

Major advertising associations from Britain, France, Germany and the United States, online ad platforms Google and Facebook, advertisers such as Procter & Gamble and Unilever and news publishers including News Corp, Washington Post and Thomson Reuters all make up the coalition. 

"This is an opportunity, with the breadth of our participation, to actually not only capture what the consumer doesn’t want but also to really educate and take action to make that a reality in the online experience," said coalition lawyer Chuck Curran.

"It’s that measurement of the point where the consumer is not just dissatisfied with the ad experience but actually more likely to use ad blockers and this is what we capture with the better ads standards."

There are questions however as to how far these measures go and if they are exhaustive enough, said Littunen. "Some reasons for ad blocking are not addressed by this, most notably long load times (due to poorly optimized ad content or excessive server calls by third party tracking software) and the lack of easy consumer control over how their data is collected, profiled, and used for ad targeting online."

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