New IAB Standards Promise Major Ad Shakeup

The Interactive Advertising Bureau’s new formats and standards for ad units will have a major, positive impact on user experience -- helping to stem the tide of ad blocking, according to Jeff Burkett, vice president of advertising innovation at the USA Today Network. He previewed some of the new rules for the audience at MediaPost’s Publishing Insider Summiton Tuesday.

But the process may not be painless for publishers, which face the loss of some of the most common ad units.

The proposed standards --&nb sp;released by the IAB on September 26 and open for public comment until November 28 -- are intended to conform with the IAB’s own guidelines for “LEAN” ads, introduced to head off the ad blocking threat.

The LEAN guidelines call for lightweight, non-intrusive ads with full consumer control.

These standards are embodied in the IAB’s portfolio of proposed ad units, which include display ads and native ads as well as new types of content experiences, such as emoji ads, 360-degree image and video ads, virtual reality ads and augmented reality ads.

In addition to producing a better user experience, the new flexible ad formats are intended to make it easier for publishers and advertisers to deliver ads easily across multiple devices and screen sizes.

One of the main changes is the demise of “countdown” ads, which force consumers to wait a certain amount of time before they can close the ad. Burkett noted that the IAB’s rule means that ads must engage consumer attention right away, adding that this could present some complications for advertisers repurposing TV ads, which are often not designed to be engaging from the first second.

The proposed standards would also ban pop-up ads that appear automatically, as well as fixed-size expansion ads that cover up part of the adjacent editorial content.

Conversely, anchored, user-expandable mobile ads, which the consumer can choose to open or close at will, are acceptable, as are expandable interstitial ads and expandable full-screen ads -- the common element obviously being consumer control.

In addition, “mobile adhesion” banner ads, which follow the text as the user scrolls, are allowed as long as the aspect ratio doesn’t exceed 3:1. Ads that expand automatically while the user is scrolling are acceptable, provided they don’t block content, have a clear way to close them from the beginning of the ad, and don’t automatically shrink again after the user finishes scrolling down, dislocating the content upwards.

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