The IAB Believes…in an ad-funded internet

Posted on: Tuesday 02 August 2016

The IAB UK outlines how it is working together with the industry and consumers to find viable solutions to minimise ad blocking, and thereby protect the content and services we have come to expect online for free or for little cost.  

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  • Launched DEAL as a set of options to help publishers respond to ad blocking

  • Provided clarity and understanding of ad blocking with Ad blocking & LEAN FAQs

  • Delivered publisher guidance on ad blocking detection

  • Produced a Consumer notice guidance for Publishers considering restriction of access to content for consumers who block ads

  • Delivered ongoing consumer research showing insights on implementation and views of ad blocking

  • Hosted a variety of events to members to provide education and guidance on how to address ad blocking

  • A guide outlining which companies measure ad blocking and the services they offer will be published at the end of July 2016

  • Making strides in the development of LEAN standards to deliver best practice advertising for the industry

  • Developing a Charter to deliver industry’s commitment to the standards

  • Working closely with the Government and regulators, lobbying to raise concerns of mobile network ad blocking

  • Working closely with industry body partners including the Advertising Association, IPA and ISBA to deliver an industry agreed approach to ad blocking

The latest wave of the IAB UK’s ad blocking research, conducted online by YouGov earlier this year, revealed that 22% of British adults online are currently using ad blocking software – that’s a rise from 18% last year.

Crucially, however, it was also discovered that over half of those using ad blocking software would turn it off to access the content they want to view. 

So it’s vital that we reinforce this “trade-off” message, to raise awareness and understanding around what constitutes a fair value exchange between publishers and consumers. 

At the same time, the IAB is committed to helping the industry improve the overall user experience. As part of this effort, we began to develop the LEAN advertising standards last October, designed to promote and harness a better and less invasive ad experience. Most recently the IAB has also launched an FAQ, answering key questions about the development of the LEAN standards

These LEAN principles are aimed at making ‘Lighter’ ads, which use ‘Encryption’, which follow the ‘Ad Choices’ initiative and which are ‘Non-intrusive’: hence the acronym. 

We have also outlined DEAL, which comprises a set of options for publishers seeking to react to the growth in ad blocking - because while subscription may be the best option for some, for others polite notices asking ad blocking consumers to deactivate their software, or ‘whitelist’ the publisher may be more appropriate. A companion guide for The response businesses take cannot be one-size-fits-all and so this initiative aims to help by providing a framework to follow – to Detect ad blocking software; to Explain the value exchange; to Ask for changed behaviour in order to maintain an equitable exchange; and to Lift restrictions or limit access in response to consumer choice (A companion guide outlining Consumer notice guidance for Publishers considering restriction of access to content for consumers who block ads).

In this way, we are setting out to define best practice parameters for the user experience as we continue to work towards an online ecosystem which offers choice, which empowers consumers and which strengthens the digital advertising industry. The first rule, as always, is to respect the consumer online, and to offer a quality, uncluttered experience. 

We are working with, and supported by, the other 44 IABs around the world. We all believe in an ad-funded internet, and believe that by offering better quality, leaner ads, everyone can be happy. 

What’s more, given that the IAB covers a large majority of major brands and agencies in the UK, in terms of its membership base, we can request that companies - whether buyers, sellers or intermediaries in the online advertising ecosystem - sign a Charter. We feel that by doing so we can ensure that these standards have a wider impact and there is commitment from the whole industry to adopt and enforce these standards. We are also discussing further potential enforcement methods in the future including audit/ independent verification.  This Charter is being finalised and we will be seeking signatories from September 2016.

At the same time, we’re also working closely with the Government (DCMS) and regulators Ofcom and the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) to address net neutrality and consumer privacy concerns around mobile network ad blocking and clarify anti-competitive and regulatory guidance for publishers responding to ad blocking. While we believe that additional government legislation and regulation isn’t required, any infringement of existing legislation that results in a negative impact to the consumer must be addressed.

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