Scott Cunningham, SVP of Technology and Ad Operations at the Interactive Advertising Bureau, arguably the most prominent trade association for the online ad industry, made a stunning statement… “We messed up”. “We lost sight of our social and ethical responsibility to provide a safe, usable experience for anyone and everyone wanting to consume the content of their choice”.
In an effort to restore balance and bring user experience “back into alignment” with digital ads, the IAB is launching the L.E.A.N. Ads program. It stands for: Light, Encrypted, Ad choice supported, Non-invasive ads.
In short, while it’s a positive sign that those in the industry are finally recognizing the magnitude of the mess that has been created, they largely continue to ignore the inconvenient truth behind the rise of ad blockers: consumers just don’t care to see what advertisers want to show them.
Waiting for ad units that are theoretically less annoying and invasive isn’t going to change that, so publishers and advertisers that want to ensure the internet is still an effective platform for their businesses need to make decisions now.
Some advertisers are pouring money into native ads and aligning themselves with influencers, while publishers are seeing success with subscriptions.
In many if not most cases, alternative models won’t bring back ‘the good old days’, but the sooner publishers and advertisers accept that the formats and models that thrived a decade ago won’t dominate the next decade, the better equipped they’ll be to succeed on tomorrow’s web.