Coalition’s Proposed Standards Draw Attention After Ad-Blocking Rumor

While Google says it won’t comment on a Wall Street Journal report about adding an ad blocker to Chrome, the report is drawing attention to an initiative by the Coalition for Better Ads—a group that includes the search giant.

This week, the tech media (as they have a tendency to do) got caught up in an interesting rumor: that Google, a major ad network operator, would offer an ad blocker to be used on its market-leading Chrome web browser.

The blocker wouldn’t weed out every ad, according to the Wall Street Journal report, but it would block ads that did not meet a standard announced by the Coalition for Better Ads last month.

Google issued a nondenial denial—a statement to AdExchanger that it wouldn’t comment on the rumors but that it was working with the coalition and other trade groups on advertising issues.

That work has been underway for a while. Last month, the Coalition for Better Ads announced a set of “Better Ads Standards” for mobile and desktop platforms. The initial standards would discourage pop-up ads, animated ads, auto-playing video ads, and other formats that are unpopular with consumers.

The announcement was significant because of the sheer number of organizations  in the coalition. On the trade group front alone, it includes the American Association of Advertising Agencies, the Association of National Advertisers, the Data & Marketing Association, Digital Content Next, and multiple Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) offshoots. Also on the list on the corporate front are Google and Facebook, major news outlets like The Washington Post and Thomson Reuters, popular ad providers like Sovrn and AppNexus, and big-name advertisers like Procter & Gamble and Unilever.

In a news release, IAB President and CEO Randall Rothenberg characterized the objectionable ad forms as potentially damaging to the advertising space as a whole.

“We hope these initial standards will be a wake-up call to brands, retailers, agencies, publishers, and their technology suppliers, and that they will retire the ad formats that research proves annoy and abuse consumers,” Rothenberg said in a statement. “If they don’t, ad blocking will rise, advertising will decline, and the marketplace of ideas and information that supports open societies and liberal economies will slide into oblivion.”

Google’s ad blocker, if it does come into play, would block the 12 types of ads unpopular with consumers (mostly on mobile) while allowing standard ads to appear.

In comments to AdExchanger, Venable partner Stuart Ingis, a lawyer for the coalition, said the group had not called on Google to add a blocker but that such a feature would help accomplish the coalition’s goals.

“It’s the logical extension of the goal we’re trying to achieve and in line with what stakeholders said they intended to do when standards were established,” Ingis said.

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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