Market Update: Coalition for Better Ads Releases “Initial Better Ads Standards”

By Seriously, post this.June 21, 2017 No Comments

The Market Update series discusses the latest trends and research in marketing and media and their implications for advertisers, buyers, and the industry at large.


How often do you go on your phone to search for a website, just to find that the ads on the page make it unusable? The Coalition for Better Ads (CBA) hopes to make this a thing of the past. In an aim to repair the sullied reputation of digital advertising, the CBA has released the Initial Better Ads Standards for Europe and North America.

Though exhaustive research using over 25,000 consumer opinions, the CBA has pinpointed several ads that consumers have identified as particularly disruptive or just plain annoying. The research was done by exposing consumers to high quality content pages, with variable types of ads served within the page. The consumer was then asked to rate the quality of the ad experience on each of the pages they viewed. This information was aggregated to expose the ads people generally find most disruptive. From there, they created The Initial Better Ads Standards, including four types of desktop web ads and eight types of mobile web ads which fell beneath the threshold of consumer acceptability.

Unacceptable desktop ads:

  1. Pop-ups
  2. Auto-playing video ads with sound
  3. Prestitial ads with countdowns
  4. Large sticky ads which consume +30% of the users screen

Unacceptable mobile ads:

  1. Pop-ups
  2. Prestitial ads
  3. Ads with density higher than 30%
  4. Flashing animated ads
  5. Auto-playing video ads with sound
  6. Positial ads with countdowns
  7. Full-screen scrollover ads
  8. Large stick ads
What it means to the media industry

This research is important for the industry for many reasons. For one, a more pleasant ad experience could curb the continued increase in use of Adblockers. In addition, brands and publishers who limit use of unpalatable ad types can avoid damage to their brand image and decrease bounce rates on their sites, all while increasing the effectiveness of the overall digital advertising ecosystem—a major reason why major players like Google, Facebook, IAB, Group M, and AAAA’s have been instrumental members in conducting the research. The CAB plans to continue this research and use the methodology to test other digital environments and new ad types as they emerge.

On the buyer side, it’s important that we consider this research when purchasing space on websites and choosing the types of ads we traffic. By doing our part in minimizing the use of these ads, we can help increase engagement and viewability for our clients. This benefits us, our clients, our publishing partners and every internet user—a rare opportunity to make the digital place we all depend on more pleasant and substantially more useable.

The Bottom Line

While digital advertising may seem like it’s been around as long as traditional media, it’s important to remember that it’s still a relatively new, immature and constantly evolving form of media. Establishing standards and best practices allows us to make the entire enterprise of digital media more effective and efficient, making it critical for advertisers and media buyers alike to not only stay on top of emerging research, but apply it to our day-to-day work.

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