The Digital Ad Industry Wakes Up

Well, what do you know. Someone woke up the folks at the Internet Advertising Bureau, who seem to have been in a bit of a slumber lately with respect to ad blocking. Just a month or so ago they were holding meetings trying to work out the possibility of suing the ad-blocking companies. Now, it seems as if a light has gone on.

In a release entitled Getting LEAN with Digital Ad UX, the head of the IAB Tech Lab begins this way:

We messed up. As technologists, tasked with delivering content and services to users, we lost track of the user experience.

Exactly! Instead of treating the symptoms, they’ve finally decided to attack the disease. The piece goes on to explain how the commercial internet evolved and how the focus was squarely on technology. The key paragraph comes later, and is instructive for anyone in business:  

Through our pursuit of further automation and maximization of margins during the industrial age of media technology, we built advertising technology to optimize publishers’ yield of marketing budgets that had eroded after the last recession. Looking back now, our scraping of dimes may have cost us dollars in consumer loyalty. The fast, scalable systems of targeting users with ever-heftier advertisements have slowed down the public internet and drained more than a few batteries. We were so clever and so good at it that we over-engineered the capabilities of the plumbing laid down by, well, ourselves. This steamrolled the users, depleted their devices, and tried their patience.

In other words, we took our eyes off the consumer and looked only to our own bottom lines.  This precipitated a consumer-focused solution – ad blocking – that is undermining the entire ecosystem of ad-supported media on the internet.  It’s consumer-friendly and a business killer.  The IAB now wants ads to be L.E.A.N. – Light, Encrypted, Ad choice supported, and Non-invasive.  It’s a great start, but I wonder if it’s too late.  With substantial percentages of users already using ad blocking, I’m not sure we’re going to be able to reverse the trend.  At least, however, the heads are out of the sand, no longer focused on the daily financials, and more focused on the consumer.  I think it’s a good start.  You?

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