Google, Unilever and P&G join coalition aiming to rid the internet of annoying ads

The ‘Coalition for Better Ads’ aims to take on the “Herculanean task” of bringing together advertisers, agencies, ad tech and publishers to come up with global standards on digital advertising to tackle the rise of ad blocking.

Google, Unilever and Procter & Gamble are among brands that have signed up to a new global coalition that aims to come up with global standards on digital advertising to help rid the internet of annoying ads and formats that frustrate consumers.

Speaking on stage at Dmexco today (15 September), Stephan Loerke, the CEO of the World Federation of Advertisers (which represents global brands such as P&G), said the ‘Coalition for Better Ads’ will aim to come up with standards based on data and research, as well as on insights from consumers.

It has three main goals:

  • Create consumer-based, data-driven standards that companies in the online advertising industry can use to improve the consumer ad experience
  • In conjunction with the IAB Tech Lab, develop and deploy technology to implement these standards
  • Encourage awareness of the standards among consumers and businesses in order to ensure wide uptake and elicit feedback

The idea is that ads will be scored based on factors such as load time, format and size with ads needing to meet certain minimum standards to appear on publishers’ websites. While there is a number of founding partners of the coalition, any brand, publisher, agency, ad industry body or ad tech provider can join up and help influence what these standards should look like and what the minimum criteria should be.

“It may appear a Herculanean task to do this globally but for 50 years we have had organisations responsible for ad standards and ensuring we have ads that don’t annoy and don’t mislead.”

Stephan Loerke, CEO, WFA

Ben Barokas, CEO of ad blocking consultancy Sourcepoint, said it will require companies to put aside their competitive concerns to work towards common goals. For example, he said consumers will want it to be possible to update their ad preferences across the web, rather than just on Google or Facebook. Both Google and Facebook have joined the coalition.

“We need something global so users can say ‘I hate that ad, I don’t want to see that product’. We need to create a tech bridge across the chasm of users, publishers and advertisers,” he said

The rise of ad blocking

The launch of the coalition comes as ad blocking reaches what Loerke described as an “inflection point”.

“As stakeholders we need to address this and make sure ads are delivered in a fashion that is welcomed by people. The ad standards will be global and will help transform the current ad experience, which in many cases lets people down, to something that people welcome,” he said.

READ MORE: AdBlock Plus splits consumer opinion after launching platform to ‘sell ads’

In the UK, 22% of people now block ads, according to the IAB. Meanwhile, one of the main providers of ad blocking software, Eyeo, which owns AdBlock Plus, has said it will start to sell ads, a move that Google has roundly criticised.

Scott Spencer, director of product management at Google, said the coalition will aim to understand the causes of ad blocking, using data to understand what people find annoying, whether that be load time or the size of creative.

He concluded: “Consumers are just annoyed and they are as likely to blame the publisher as the advertiser. This is not a problem that is purely a publisher issue, it is a challenge that affects the entire online ad industry.”