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Ellen Hammett 

IAB unveils new standards to help quash ad-blocking threat

IAB unveils new standards to help quash ad-blocking threat

IAB Engage 2015: Guy Phillipson, CEO IAB UK and Randall Rothenburg, CEO IAB US.

As concerns over ad-blocking and its effects continue to grow, the IAB has announced a set of new industry guidelines in a bid to reduce consumers' likelihood to actively reject online advertising.

Speaking at IAB Engage on Thursday, the company's UK and US CEOs, Guy Phillipson and Randall Rothenburg, unveiled L.E.A.N (below), which has been designed to combat what they both described as the "biggest challenge" for the media industry.

"It [ad-blocking] is a serious problem and it derives from a number of things," said Rothenburg - the primary reason being "overloading the consumer - a normal human being - with way too much crap built into ads that diminishes and destroys the user experience."

The IAB estimates that approximately 15% of the UK currently uses an ad-blocker, and with 70-80% of digital display ads expected to be traded programmatically by 2018, the pressure is mounting to minimise long-term damage for both brands and publishers.

Rothenburg, whose media career spans almost three decades, said that the road to a workable, financially sustainable, ad-funded Internet - one that consumers are willing to pay for - must begin with the advertiser.

"You're the ones who are making demands on the media agencies, and the media agencies are the ones making demands on publishers," he said.

"Some of those demands are about 'I want more work', 'I want more scale', and at a cheaper price - but you need to recognise that you get what you pay for...You have to understand that all these [demands] contribute to different elements of chaos."


Rothenburg added that the conversation needs to be steered back to "quality" of advertising, and that the responsibility to do this lies not just with brands, but also with agencies, publishers and tech companies.

When asked whether we're at the beginning of an "ad-pocalypse", as Phillipson called it, Rothenberg said no.

"It's certainly very serious but it's hard to imagine a world where commercial messaging doesn't get through," he said, "unless that world was controlled by a fascist government."

In accordance with L.E.A.N, all advertisers must abide by the following guidelines:

- Light: Limited file size with strict data guidelines

- Encrypted: Assure user security with https/SSL compliant ads

- Ad Choices Support: All ads should support the Digital Advertising Alliance's consumer privacy programs

- Non-invasive/disruptive: Ads that supplement the user experience and don't disrupt it. This includes covering content and sound enabled by default.

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Tim, Founder, Rezonence on 19 Oct 2015
“L.E.A.N is a start but not very visionary! How about seeing just one Engagement based ad per month and the rest of a website's content was free and free of ads however you arrived... its possible and all stakeholders would win, especially the reader. Keep the web free and I don't believe cash paywalls are the way forward unlike Sir Martin!”