The ad blocking epidemic and why there's “too much unprotected sex” in ad tech

Sarah Homewood
By Sarah Homewood | 26 August 2015

The industry needs to accept it is contributing to the ad blocking epidemic that is engulfing the online sector, according to the IAB’s US CEO and president, Randall Rothenberg. 

On a visit to Australia this week, Rothenberg also warned there was “too much unprotected sex” in adtech and publishing industries resulting in a diseased supply chain.

Rothenberg was speaking at the IAB’s inaugural leadership summit in Sydney, as the international keynote speaker.

He said adblocking was an issue that’s only gone mainstream in the past two years and that while there are some other causes for the problem, the industry has contributed to rising consumer usage.

Adblocking is presenting fast emerging challenges for the $4 billion dollar online ad sector in Australia and most developed markets.

“There’s a part where we need to accept some responsibly…we’ve created really crappy sites, cluttered pages, bad advertising and bad user experience,” Rothenberg said. 

He also explained that in an attempt to get more analytics on web traffic, some brands have also slowed down their sites which has pushed more people to download and use ad blocking software. 

“Anybody who installed ad block plus knows it speeds up your internet,” he said. “There needs to be more information about how to create better user experience,” he added. 

Rothenberg used his presentation to talk to the top six questions that he gets asked around the world. They are:

  • When will the viewable impression be our new currency?
  • Can we make programmatic advertising work for everybody?
  • How will this industry eliminate fraudulent ad traffic?
  • When will we tame the wild west of mobile?
  • Is native advertising a fad or a fixture?
  • How will digital video reach its full potential?

Talking to the fraud question, Rothenberg explained that the problem with the digital advertising supply chain is that our industry is the only industry on earth where anybody can join, no matter how immature, how inexperienced and how corrupt they might be. 

He used the analogy of Chrysler allowing anyone to create the tyres on its cars. 

“What would happen? the next day there’d be a lot of tyres blowing up, people would be dying on the freeway - Chrysler doesn’t allow that to happen,” he said. 

“Our industry does. We allow anybody to place their tags, pixels and metadata to anywhere they want to on the basis of one deal. 

“Our industry has an enormous amount of unprotected sex with itself, and the reaction and the results of that is pretty much what you’d expect if you have a lot of unprotected sex, you get a diseased supply chain and fraud is one of the reasons,” he said. 

Keep an eye on AdNews and our Twitter feed @AdNews for more from the IAB event.

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