Last November, we had fun interviewing Scott Moore, the founder of Ad Lightning, who spelled out just was wrong with programmatic advertising — ads that slowed down Web sites and drive users to put up ad blockers.
Now, Ad Lightning has come out with a study involving 605,000 examples of online ads, encompassing 65 web properties and 11 million impressions, gathered from October to the beginning of this year. According to Ad Exchanger, these “bad ads either exceeded IAB-recommended file size, made too many network requests, used too much processing power, weren’t secure or used an intrusive format like in-banner video.”
Ad Lightning has a financial stake in this, of course, in that it provides guidance to clients for ads that stay within recommended guidelines, such as a size ceiling of 300 kilobytes. Many of the ads in the Ad Lighting study exceeded 5 megabytes. Could your mobile browser handle that? There is a somewhat juvenile equation in America that bigger is always better. Consider the Whopper and the excess outlined in “Super Size Me.” But in online ads, nothing makes a user reach for an ad blocker faster than 5MB ad files.
What makes this doubly difficult for Ad Tech is that 1. Giants like Facebook have very strict guidelines for online ads, and when they compete with the rest of the online world that’s just one more advantage they have; 2. Facebook came up with a workaround for AdBlockPlus some months ago. AdBlockPlus is still stymied by it, despite confident boasts that the open source community would rise up and defeat it. On February 7, AdBlockPlus’ Björn Loesing posted on his company’s blog that difficulties remain in dealing with Facebook.
“We sincerely hope to have additional information for you soon. There’s been a few unforeseen technical difficulties going forward with this, but it’s definitely still on our roadmap.”
That sounds like defeat to me.
What sounds like insanity is the complexity of many of the ads studied by Ad Lightning.
According to Ad Exchanger, “Sampled ads averaged 56 network requests and tracking scripts, far exceeding the 15 requests in IAB guidelines. Many ads were also slow or intrusive. A third exceeded load time recommendations of 300 milliseconds. And 19% of in-banner video ads used autoplay. Half of all scripts weren’t secure or were SSL noncompliant."
Ad Exchanger reported that “Purch, a large programmatic publisher, deemed the findings alarming, according to Michael Hannon, VP of yield and revenue optimization. ‘As an industry trying to tackle things like ad blocking, overall latency, and simply providing the best user experience possible, this just makes it that much harder,’ he noted.”
And, according to its new study, some ads actually exceed 5MBs. It has often seemed to us that ad tech is on a suicide mission. This new report seems to confirm that.