New IAB code to curb ‘bad’ pop-ups

Intrusive pop-up ads and other ad formats that consumers find annoying could be banned under a new set of “best practice” guidelines published by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB).

IAB UK chief executive Danny Meadows-Klue says the guidelines – which have been in development for some months (MW July 19) – are designed to “champion the needs of viewers”, in particular by tackling criticism of the ways in which some advertisers use pop-ups and similar ads.

He adds: “The industry now understands how to use rich media and similar tools to put viewers in control. We expect that publishers will begin to use these guidelines as benchmarks for good practice, and will reject those ads which do not conform.”

Control – or rather a perceived lack of it – has been behind much of the criticism of pop-up ads in recent months. One common complaint is that, either through poor design or deliberate intent, some pop-ups are difficult to close: internet users may find themselves opening further ads or inadvertently linking to websites, when in fact they are simply trying to get rid of the pop-up. Among the rules digital ad designers will now be expected to follow are the inclusion of a clearly labelled close button; video-style play, stop, fast-forward and rewind buttons on ads that feature video; sound control buttons which are clear and easy to use; and a ban on fake interactivity, where scroll bars or text fields suggest users can control an ad or input information when in fact clicking on any part of the ad connects them to another website.

The online industry has thrown its weight behind the guidelines, which will be published next week. Daniele Fiandaca, chief operating officer of digital agency Profero, says: “Leading agencies are already there: the release of these standards sets up a model for the rest to follow.”

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