Coalition for Better Ads takes off - Unilever, P&G and Facebook on board

Pippa Chambers
By Pippa Chambers | 18 September 2016
The Coalition for Better Ads has drawn up a charter

The backlash from consumers over unwanted ads has forced the industry to unite behind a common effort.

From publishers, ad tech companies, agencies and advertisers, when consumers have undesirable or negative experiences with online ads, these are the organisations that are impacted. As a result, in order to try and tackle the need for and rise of adblocking, the industry is coming together to solve the growing problem.

In a structured way "that puts the experience of the consumer front and center and holds the industry accountable for that experience", leading advertisers Unilever and Procter & Gamble, as well as international trade associations and major tech players Facebook and Google, have formed the Coalition for Better Ads - with the potential to drive change globally. 

The initiative, announced at digital marketing and innovation event Dmexco in Munich, aims to “leverage consumer insights and cross-industry expertise to develop and implement new global standards for online advertising”.

The coalition says advertising helps support valuable free content, robust journalism and social connections across the internet – adding that consumers, however, are increasingly frustrated with ads that disrupt their experience, interrupt content and slow browsing.

Don’t abuse the good will of consumers

Randall Rothenberg, the president and CEO of the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), which is one of the founding coalition members, says: “Advertising funds the diversity of information, entertainment and services on the free internet, but that doesn’t give business a license to abuse the good will of consumers.”

Rothenberg adds it is essential that the industry create standards to assure that consumers get safe, fast, secure delivery of the sites and services they love.

The coalition emphasises the belief that a unified, industry-wide effort will drive the change consumers want.

Jason Kint, CEO at Digital Content Next, also a coalition member, says the foundation for any premium publisher is consumer and advertiser trust.

“Consumers are clearly frustrated with the current dynamic of digital advertising across the wider web. No industry has ever survived by ignoring consumer needs,” he says.

Bob Liodice, CEO of the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), says with advertising becoming the economic driver of the explosive growth of the internet and mobile media, to assure that advertising fulfills its critical role, the digital marketplace needs continually to be strengthened. This means leading brands need to develop a deep understanding of consumer needs and work to meet them.

Also commenting on the news, Nancy Hill, president and CEO at the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A’s), says its members recognise that there is room for improvement with the current consumer online advertising experience, as indicated in part by the emergence of adblocking.

“Now is the time for advertising professionals and marketers to look at ourselves to understand why consumers are not responding to these types of ads, and figure out how we can correct the issue to better engage with the consumers we’re trying to reach," she says.

The initiative will draw on the work its members have been doing on this issue, including the efforts of IAB Europe, IAB France, IAB UK and other European national IABs to develop a Charter on Digital Advertising Best Practice.

Thomas Benton, CEO of the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), added that the relationship between marketers and consumers is based on "truth, results, trust and two-way communication".

“As the internet evolves, our industry must also evolve, and as a leader of the industry’s consumer preferences and self-regulatory programs for over 60 years – both of which are grounded in respecting consumers’ choices, DMA is pleased to expand its commitment in helping the industry keep pace with consumers’ expectations while continuing to foster the data and marketing innovation that delivers even greater value and benefits to consumers," Benton says.

People are fed up

CEO of the World Federation of Advertisers, Stephan Loerke, stressed that ads support free content, quality journalism and enable social connections across the internet.

Loerke says: “But people are telling us they are fed up with how ads are being delivered on their favourite sites. We hear that message loud and clear. This announcement is an important step forward in shaping a worldwide response."

The coalition will focus on several initiatives in the coming months:

  • 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 coalition will draw upon consumer research in shaping the standards.

See the full charter here.

Founding members and supporters of the Coalition include the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4A’s), Association of National Advertisers (ANA), BVDW Germany, Digital Content Next, DMA, European Publishers Council, Facebook, Google, GroupM, IAB, IAB Europe, IAB Tech Lab, as well as additional national and regional IABs, Network Advertising Initiative (NAI), News Media Alliance, Procter & Gamble, Unilever, The Washington Post, and World Federation of Advertisers (WFA).

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