4As, ANA & IAB push self-regulatory digital ads standards program

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Three of the big industry trade groups representing the digital advertising ecosystem are hoping to gain support for a “self-regulatory” program for the digital advertising industry to protect itself from the rise of ad blockers and rogue actions of the likes of Apple.

The 4As, ANA and IAB have asked the Coalition for Better Ads (CBA) — an industry group formed in part by these three trade groups and its members to address ad blocking — to adopt “The Better Ads Experience Program.” Under the new program, digital ad sellers, buyers and intermediaries would pledge to comply with the Coalition for Better Ads’ standards for digital advertising.

The Better Ads Standards set forth by the Coalition for Better Ads aim to address the worst aspects of digital advertising in order to stem the tide of ad blockers.

In the letter addressed to the Coalition for Better Ads, the CEOs of the ANA, 4As and IAB wrote:

Because the Coalition’s research identified clear correlations between a set of poor advertising experiences and consumers’ propensity to download and implement ad-blocking software, we believe it is urgent for the industry to coalesce around a program to realize these initial standards fully in practice across the marketing-media ecosystem.

Another reason the CEOs call for the “industry to coalesce” around an industrywide self-regulatory program is to combat the “fragmented ‘regulatory’ regimes by dominant platforms such as Apple, which implemented Intelligent Tracking Prevention in the Safari 11 to limit retargeting, much to the industry’s chagrin. From the letter:

We already are seeing such chaos develop, with Apple recently imposing its own heavy-handed cookie standards that risk disrupting the valuable advertising ecosystem that funds much of today’s digital content and services. This private, walled-garden approach to Internet advertising and content regulation is untenable.

The trade groups also set out several requirements for browsers and other delivery technology companies to help the CBA “police and enforce compliance with the industry program” in order to participate in this program. (A bit rich coming from groups that have actively fought against browser companies’ attempts to support Do Not Track.) Again from the letter:

The Program will offer a “safe harbor” from blocking, filtering, or other obstruction by participating browsers and delivery technology companies to any publisher, brand, agency, or technology infrastructure provider [participating in the the Program].


browser companies must not block “native advertising, “branded content,” editorial content or programming, or in-stream advertising by participating companies

Google was the first to raise its hand as a CBA-friendly browser company. Google announced it will start blocking ads in Chrome that don’t comply with CBA standards next year. Earlier this month, Google SVP of Ads and Commerce Sridhar Ramaswamy called the move “the ultimate fallback option” and said, “Our hope is once this is in place, there’s no need for ad blocking on mobile.”

Mobile is where the growth is, and Ramaswamy says technological limitations are the only reason ad blocking hasn’t taken off on mobile. Google and others reliant on digital advertising want to get out ahead of those technological advancements.

The “Better Ads Experience Program” the CBA is being asked to endorse would be fully owned, operated and managed by the CBA on behalf of industry participants.

About The Author

As Third Door Media’s paid media reporter, Ginny Marvin writes about paid online marketing topics including paid search, paid social, display and retargeting for Search Engine Land and Marketing Land. With more than 15 years of marketing experience, Ginny has held both in-house and agency management positions. She provides search marketing and demand generation advice for ecommerce companies and can be found on Twitter as @ginnymarvin.


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