The Coalition for Better Ads and Why You Should Care About It

April 10, 2019

In the ever-changing industry of digital advertising, publishers and advertisers are constantly uncertain whether they are reaching their audience in the right way. A dynamic approach towards innovation and constant research for improvements are the engines of scalable success.

2018 was more of a focus not on ad tech innovation but rather a focus of efforts on matters from a legal and law abiding nature. Transparency in advertising and ad fraud were also a priority, resulting in higher Ads.txt adoption rates and the more frequent mentioning of OpenRTB 3.0 and Ads.cert.

On the battlefield of data gathering, we witnessed the huge blow from the EU in the form of the official enrollment of GDPR. At first, it was a major concern amongst all publishers, yet later proved to be a successfully won challenge for most of them. The state of California also had a say in this with their own version of GDPR – the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA).

With the industry being preoccupied with figuring out solutions for all of this and adjusting to the changes, one of the most relevant and always trendy questions was somewhat left behind: has user experience improved?

The Coalition for Better Ads might give you an answer to that.

So…What is the Coalition for Better Ads?

Formed in 2016, the Coalition for Better Ads is an alliance of leading international trade associations and companies involved in online media. Its sole purpose is to create better ad standards for greater user experience and engagement, based on research and testing. Companies, such as Google, Facebook, AppNexus, Microsoft, The Washington Post, and even the IAB, are just some of the members who have decided to join forces in the quest for ad standards improvement (the full list of members can be found here). This gives you a pretty fair idea of the level of professionalism, expertise, and experience involved in the party.

Better Ads Standards: The Consumer’s Voice

The Coalition’s Better Ads Standards are based on in-depth research of more than 66 000 consumers who have expressed their honest opinions on their ad experience. The Coalition’s method of research is based on a survey of users who view ads while reading or consuming high-quality content. By adding different ad formats in the mix and asking the participants to rate their experience, the research showed which are the most undesirable ad formats by the users:

Least Preferred Mobile Ads:

  • Pop-up ads;
  • Prestitial ads;
  • Mobile pages with more than 30% ad density;
  • Flashing animations;
  • Poststitial ads that require a countdown to dismiss;
  • Fullscreen scrollover ads;
  • Large sticky ads;

Full rankings : here

Least Preferred Desktop Ads:

  • Pop-up ads;
  • Auto-playing videos with sound;
  • Prestitial ads with a countdown;
  • Large sticky ads;

Full rankings: here

It doesn’t come as a surprise that pop-up and video ads can be seen in both device categories. Studies have shown that more than 70% of consumers prefer to be targeted through personalized ads, which these formats can’t offer to the desired extent. Also, all of the above-mentioned formats could be more or less intrusive and likely to annoy most of the users on their quest for valuable information and content.

Content Environment Testing – an even more detailed research

The Coalition for Better Ads’ content environment testing is a research on the combination of a used device and the format of content reviewed on the device. This research gives a more detailed insight, for publishers and advertisers, which ad formats would be most and least preferred, depending on the specific environment they are viewed in. For the time being, the Coalition for Better Ads has done research on Web content and has planned on doing another one for In-stream video content and Multi-stream / Feed content.

Google Chrome’s Ad Blocker = Putting in effect the Better Ads Standards

Time and history have shown that whenever Google is involved in innovation or an update, it’s always massive. Last year’s news for Google rebranding its advertising products, once again solidified the giant as a major player who dictates the dynamics of the industry.
In terms of applying changes, Google isn’t wasting any time and has already enabled its built-in ad blocker for Chrome, and plans to further expand its coverage in July 2019 (More Info: Chrome’s Ad-Blocker).

Recent reports have shown that more than 60% of online users worldwide choose Google Chrome for their most preferred browser (source: Statcounter). On desktop, the formats that Google will block are pop-up ads, auto-playing video ads, prestitials with a countdown and large stickies. Since mobile devices account for more than two-thirds of the online traffic, the number of formats to be blocked on that platform is even higher: pop-up ads, prestitials, flashing animations, poststitial ads that require a countdown to dismiss, full-screen scrollover ads, and large sticky ads. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?  

Yes, you guessed it right: Google is blocking the least preferred ads as per the Coalition’s Better Ads Standards. At first glance, this may seem as a concern across publishers, but Google plans on notifying site owners before putting them on a blocklist (more detailed info: here). After all, it’s logical for those formats to be blocked since these are the preferences of users.

What’s in it for you?

Regardless of whether you are an advertiser or a publisher, the Coalition for Better Ads provides you with a closer look at the industry, the user preferences, and their correlation with the desired advertising experience. Creativity plays a major role here. Avoid the usage of intrusive ad formats in order to reach more consumers and bring more value. In a way, most of the key players in digital advertising seem to be doing the industry a favor through guidance and standards. The Better Ads Standards will change over time, yet when and to what extent…only time will tell.