- Recent ad industry efforts such as the Coalition for Better Ads and the Interactive Advertising Bureau's new ad specs fail to address the holistic user experience by focusing too narrowly on changing ads to preserve profits, according to a new white paper authored by think tank The Online Trust Alliance.
- The OTA also insists that various self-regulatory attempts at addressing ad quality are not inclusive, sometimes have conflicting objectives and overlap their efforts.
- Overall, there is little recognition of the urgency for the need to make the kind of systemic changes needed to ensure the ongoing future of the ecosystem, claims the group.
Ad quality is top of mind for some marketers as the use of ad blocking grows, reflecting user dissatisfaction with ad experiences.
The quality of ad experiences has declined as publishers, advertisers and marketers have focused on short-term goals such as efficiency and profitability instead of the consumer, the OTA argues. Other factors undermining the user experience, and by extension the digital ad ecosystem, include the increase in online fraud and malicious activities targeting end-users, as well as consumer expectations for free content.
There is evidence that multiple attempts to address the quality of digital ads have not gone far enough because they fail to tackle these broader issues undermining the digital ad ecosystem. In September, Google, P&G and others formed the Coalition for Better Ads to strengthen digital advertising by addressing intrusive ads.
Soon after, the IAB released a significant revision of its ad guidelines to address quickly emerging formats, including virtual reality and emojis.
These and other efforts face two significant challenges: how outdated the current infrastructure is, and in the number of stakeholders whose business models are built on precisely the kind of ads that consumers find most objectionable.
"The issues must be addressed holistically and be inclusive of the user, security and privacy communities," the OTA wrote in the white paper. "Maximum success will be achieved by including all stakeholders with an emphasis on putting the consumer first. This pivot – from one of profit preservation/ maximization to a consumer-centric focus – is crucial to increasing trust and realizing the potential of the consumer-publisher-advertiser value exchange."