Coalition identifies nuisance ads that drive blocking

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The US-headquartered Coalition for Better Ads has released initial standards for online advertising.

The Better Ads Standards for desktop and mobile web reflect consumer advertising preferences in North American and European markets, based on research in which consumers ranked different ad experiences. 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 likely to drive users 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 12 mobile web ad experiences that fell beneath this threshold were among the 104.

President and chief executive of American Association of Advertising Agencies Nancy Hill says the scope and nature of the research provides insight into how consumers view different online ad experiences: "The consumer preferences will be useful to our members who wish to take action to improve the online experience."

Consumers were asked to read articles on simulated high quality content pages, and then to rate comparatively the different ad experiences they received.

Desktop experiences likely to drive users to ad blockers included pop-up ads, auto-play video ads with sound, prestitial ads with countdown and large sticky ads.

For mobile web, pop-up ads, prestitial ads, ads with density greater than 30 per cent, flashing animated ads, auto-play video ads with sound, poststitial ads with countdown, full-screen scrollover ads, and large sticky ads were criticised.

"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 chief executive of the 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 says the methodology it used is extensible to different global regions and to other digital environments, or to measure new ad experiences in previously tested environments. Its roadmap includes plans to conduct additional research across various regions including Asia and Latin America.

Members and supporters of the coalition include the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4As), 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 affiliates. More at

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