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POV: Coalition for Better Ads - ad blocking

Background:

The Interactive Advertising Bureau in the US, the Association of National Advertisers and the American Association of Advertising Agencies have written a joint letter to the Coalition for Better Ads (formed itself of industry trade bodies, agency groups, advertisers and media owners) calling for the finalizing of: ‘a self-regulatory framework that will enhance marketplace adoption of the Better Ads standards and make a difference for consumers’. The letter also suggests a ‘Better Ads Experience Program’ as the solution, which is being seen as a direct challenge to Google’s current plan to control what is ‘acceptable’ advertising through ad blocking on its Chrome browser, which has around 60% market share globally.

Details and Implications:

The letter states: ‘Restrictive regulatory systems imposed by platforms with tremendous market power over brands, agencies, the creative process, retailing, and the publishing infrastructure, will impose unmanageable costs on these and other constituents. It will force all news, entertainment, services, marketing, company strategy - indeed, all public communications and much private communications - through multiple sluice gates, each owned and operated by a different technology giant. 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. Imposition of these fragmented “regulatory” regimes by dominant platforms will force consolidation among the makers and marketers of media, and of the goods and services on which the media depend for support, and which in turn rely on the media for access to consumer markets.’

The letter goes on to set out the solution in the form of the ‘Better Ads Experience Program’. However, clause 4 of the 13 clause Program, states that participation in such a programme would be voluntary, whilst other clauses if implemented would severely restrict the power that browser companies currently have to filter out ads, by suggesting that browsers and delivery technology companies would both have to sign up to the Coalition’s definitions and interpretations of the standards and would also have to communicate any alleged lack of compliance with Coalition standards to the Program, which in turn will ascertain through its own mechanisms whether there is a failure to comply by a Certified Company.

Read the letter in full here.

Summary:

This issue is clearly going to run and run as two sides of the advertising ecosystem vie for control of their own destiny. Browser companies would seem to have the upper hand as they control the access point with users, but if the entire industry turns against them we could be in for a very public and messy fight.

Further Reading:

AdAge / Mediapost / The Drum