Google has helped form a coalition group comprising advertising trade associations, advertisers, publishers, and agency groups that aims to rid the web of bad ads.
"The Coalition for Better Ads" was announced on Thursday at digital advertising trade show Dmexco in Cologne, Germany.
The Coalition was formed as a direct response to the rise of ad blocking, and will act as a kind of regulator for internet ads.
The group has been put together to create global standards for online advertising, which will be deployed using technology created by the IAB (Interactive Advertising Bureau)'s Tech Lab. The technology will essentially score ads based on a number of criteria — such as page load time, the number of tracking pixels, and the type of creative — with only ads that meet a certain threshold making it through to the web page of participating companies.
On a website announcing the Coalition, the group says it will develop the criteria based on consumer research, which will look into the kind of online ads people love and hate. The first iteration of the scoring system is expected to be released in the fourth quarter of this year, which the scoring software will likely take until 2017 to be released to the market.
The Coalition will be funded by "member contributions," a spokesperson told Business Insider.
The founding members of the Coalition include:
American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A’s)
Association of National Advertisers (ANA)
Digital Content Next
European Publishers Council
IAB, IAB Europe, IAB Tech Lab, as well as additional national and regional IABs
Network Advertising Initiative (NAI)
News Media Alliance
Procter & Gamble
The Washington Post
World Federation of Advertisers (WFA)
Speaking to Business Insider, Stephan Loerke, CEO of the WFA, said one of the incentives for advertising companies to join the coalition or create ads meeting its standards will be his trade organization's members. The WFA represents marketers at major brands, who are responsible for around 90% of global advertising spend.
"We are seeing in our membership significant concern about the uptake of ad blocking, not because it is immediately affecting [marketers] but because of the drivers, which are the frustration of people with the quality of their interaction with ads," Loerke said.
(PageFair and Adobe)
Interestingly, the coalition does not yet include any consumer groups. However, Alanna Gombert, general manager of the IAB Tech Lab, told Business Insider the research informing the ad standards technology will include direct input from consumers. That will include research that directly monitors consumers' behavior online to see how they react to different forms of advertising, sources told Business Insider earlier this year.
Gombert said: "Part of the reason why it's so important we came together is because many of us have consumer groups [as members] and do research constantly so it's great to come together to combine that."
How the Coalition came about
Business Insider first reported about the early discussions that took place ahead of the launch of the Coalition in May this year.
The discussions followed Google executives becoming increasingly vocal about the need for the advertising industry to deal with the rise of ad blockers and the reasons that compel people to download them.
In 2015, as the noise around ad blocking grew even louder, Google appointed Scott Spencer, the director of product management for the DoubleClick Ad Exchange business, to lead the "sustainable advertising" unit, which is based in New York City. Appointing such a senior executive, who had joined Google in 2008 when it acquired DoubleClick (where he was VP of product management for its ad serving solutions) was a reflection of how seriously the company was taking the matter.
Spencer has been leading Google's discussions with the advertising industry. At the time, sources told us Google was keen for the new acceptable ads policy to be presented as an industry-level effort.
Then in June, Business Insider reported the WFA's proposal to create a global advertising watchdog to help regulate internet ads.
On Thursday, that proposal became a reality.
Google's other ad blocking concern this week
The announcement came a day after Google was forced to disassociate itself with involvement in popular ad blocker Adblock Plus' first ad exchange, which was unveiled earlier this week.
At first, Adblock Plus had implied Google would be one of the technology partners that would facilitate the exchange. Google said on Wednesday it was "surprised" by the announcement, denied it had any involvement with the program, and moved to terminate the account of Adblock Plus' ad tech partner ComboTag from its AdX exchange. Google's senior vice president of advertising Sridhar Ramaswamy told journalists Adblock Plus' move from ad blocker to ad seller was "not a business that we want to be part of."
That said, Google still does have a business relationship with Adblock Plus. It is one of the large companies that pays Adblock Plus owner Eyeo millions of dollars each year to get its ads whitelisted, meaning its ads still appear to Adblock Plus users, unless those users apply the most strict settings.
Adblock Plus is also attempting to form a cross-industry board, known as the Acceptable Ads Committee. The aim is for the independent, non-profit group — which will include ad tech companies, trade bodies, publishers, journalists, and academics — to preside over the Acceptable Ads program, which dictates which "non-intrusive" ads its ad blocker whitelists. However, progress on that has been slow and Adblock Plus hasn't provided an update on the committee since February.
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