Blog: Positive steps to make people’s online ad experiences better

IAB UK’s Chief Digital Officer, Tim Elkington, writes about how The Coalition for Better Ads is making online advertising better.

It’s important in every walk of life that you listen to the feedback that people around you are giving. A couple of years ago people started giving the digital advertising industry feedback – in the form of using ad blockers and although ad blocking levels appear to be stabilising, it’s really important that we listen to, and act on this feedback.

I’m really pleased to say that after lots of listening, we’re now moving into the ‘acting phase’ of tackling ad blocking in the form of the Coalition for Better Ads (CBA) of which IAB Ireland and IAB UK  are members.

The CBA has just completed its consumer research and made recommendations about which ads across mobile and desktop are most annoying and most likely to cause ad blocking.

The research recruited 25,000 internet users in North America and Europe and used simulated real world online experiences to understand their opinions and preferences regarding digital ads. The results enabled the CBA to rank mobile and desktop ads in terms of best and worst experiences and the results isolated 12 ads across mobile and desktop that are most annoying and likely to trigger ad blocking.

The most annoying ads are listed here and the list makes good sense in terms of what people are likely to find most annoying. The CBA states that everyone in the digital advertising ecosystem – advertisers, publishers, ad tech platforms and measurement providers – should use the list to improve the digital consumer experience.


The next step is to develop a LEAN scoring system which will enable the easy evaluation of websites in terms of the acceptability of the ad experience that they offer consumers.

It might seem that the industry’s response to ad blocking has taken a while, but as the Smiths said in 1984 – these things take time. The CBA is a genuine global coalition of media owners, advertisers, agencies and tech companies and obtaining global cross-industry buy-in is key. Using the CBA’s outputs, rather than relying on something unilateral from one particular stakeholder, will be the best way of making people’s online experiences better and addressing the ad blocking issue.