IAB Australia’s stance on Google Chrome’s in-built ad blocker which stops “intrusive, annoying ads” is at odds with the IAB in the US and the UK. It has not ​endorsed the guidelines used to define which ads will be blocked, but concedes that publishers and brands who don’t adopt the new standards risk having their ads blocked after 9 July, when the changes are rolled out.

Launched last year, the Chrome browser settings are currently only applied to Europe and North American sites and don’t block all ads — just ones that do not comply with the Better Ads Standards created by an industry group called the Coalition For Better Ads.

“Our ultimate goal is not to filter ads, but to build a better web for everyone, everywhere. Chrome’s enforcement of the Coalition’s standards has inspired many website owners to improve the advertising experience on their sites in a way that benefits users,” writes Ben Galbraith, Senior Director of Product, Chrome.

“Following the Coalition’s lead, beginning July 9, 2019, Chrome will expand its user protections and stop showing all ads on sites in any country that repeatedly display these disruptive ads.”

According to the Better Ads Standard, there are twelve types of intrusive ad — four for desktop and eight for mobile — which take up much of the screen or autoplay sound. However, the Australian chapter of the IAB is concerned the rules are overly restrictive.  

Agendas
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Of course, the bulk of the local IAB’s major fee-paying members are Google competitors. And, frankly, many of them never met a customer experience they couldn’t cheapen with invasive ad placements. So the creativity argument can be viewed through a skeptical lens.

Faced with the wholesale destruction of their digital revenue streams, they want as much creative flexibility as possible to counter Google’s dominance (and Facebook’s, and eventually Amazon’s as well).

And while Google argues its changes are all about usability and customer experience, its critics can reasonably argue that Google has a further incentive to encourage an adtech ecosystem where everything is dumbed-down and tradeable at scale via its platforms, with minimal creativity.

“Whilst we’re supportive of the user-centric approach taken by the Coalition for Better Ads, at this stage we cannot formally endorse all the Better Ads Standards for the Australian marketplace, as our Standards and Guidelines Council believe that further work is still required in order to align with local requirements,” said Jonas Jaanimagi, Technology Lead for IAB Australia.

He confirmed to Which-50 that while the IAB locally has no problems with most (ten) of the CBA standards, two others are causing it concerns.

​“For instance, the Standards and Guidelines Council believes that consumers should retain the right to be able to user-initiate full-screen web-based creative ad formats, if they so choose. Additionally, the Better Ads Standards do not make any allowance for ad experiences within in-app environments, in which creativity and interaction are often so critical for Australian marketers.”

The Better Ads Standards consists of 12 ad experiences that research found to be particularly annoying to users. Image Source: Coalition for Better Ads

Unless the local IAB can convince other international chapters to shift their view, the only way its guidance could be adopted locally is if Google agreed to Australia-specific changes to its browser.

Jaanimagi conceded there were potential complexities to getting Google to agree to such an approach.

As to IAB Australia’s reasoning, Jaanimagi explained, “Standardisation is important, but not if it results in killing creativity by being overly restrictive.”

IAB Australia has recommended Australian organisations continue to adopt the IAB global standards, while “adhering to the core principles of the Better Ads Standards.”

The industry body is conducting its own local data research and technical tests with its Australian members and will provide further recommendations to the Coalition for Better Ads.

Publishers outside North America and Europe can now check if their sites are on Chrome’s naughty list via an online dashboard called the  Ad Experience Report.

Web sites which aren’t compliant will get a warning first. So far, most of the sites  in Europe and North America which received warnings have complied with the rules.

“As of January 1, 2019, two thirds of all publishers who were at one time non-compliant to the Better Ads Standards are now in good standing. Further, out of millions of sites we’ve reviewed to date, less than one per cent have had their ads filtered,” Galbraith wrote.

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