Acceptable Ads Committee Ponders Problems

Eyeo, the German company behind AdBlock Plus, has been trying to find a helpful way to play in the digital media industry without selling out its user base and still make money. Last year, it established standards for acceptable ads — ads that would get through AdBlock Plus’s filters. After being accused of extortion, Eyeo showed good faith by establishing a standards setting body call the Acceptable Ads Commission of industry heavyweights on the buy, sell and tech sides and spun it off into a separate non-profit corporation.  Like every other industry initiative, it will probably soon be dominated by Facebook and Google, who are already paying Eyeo to have their ads white-listed.

But we don’t believe that Eyeo is in the extortion business, so we accepted a seat on the AdTech segment of the Acceptable Ads Commission. The first meeting was last week, and the agenda was quite inclusive.

Goal: Establish what constitutes an acceptable ad.

Core Values of AAC:

— Protect user experience

— Approve ads that users do not find obtrusive

— Provide publishers/content creators with monetization opportunities

As the ad tech section of this Commission,  we wanted to discuss the value exchange of the internet, and the right of publishers to support themselves based on free content and services. However, we also want to help find appropriate solutions for intrusiveness, privacy and data collection, load time, native advertising, and ad formats. It does not help anyone if free content goes away, quality publishers can’t sustain themselves, and brands can’t find their customers.

The questions we considered include:

  1. What rules should be considered when exempting an ad from being blocked?
  2. What rules are missing from the Acceptable Ads Rules that should be included?
  3. Which acceptable ads rules are too strict and should be rolled back?
  4. What research is needed into this, and does it already exist?

There are a crazy number of industry initiatives going on right now into which this new group must fit itself. There is the Coalition for Better Ads, there is the Trustworthy Accountability Group, a spinoff from IAB, and now the new Chrome Ad Blocker. We also need to recognize efforts to provide users with transparency and choice, ie DigiTrust and the Online Trust Alliance.

Part of the still-to-be-discussed items are whether a committee that originated with an ad blocking service can ever be truly independent, and whether if people like us participate, we will be seen as having a conflict of interest.

But I believe we’re on track to be part of the solution, rather than part of the problem, which is how we always see ourselves. As a closed system, ZINC and ZEDO are in a unique position to advise buyers on what can and cannot run in our system, and advise publishers on issues like ad density. We have a suite of ad formats that are all part of the acceptable ads framework, and a network of publishers whose content is brand safe depending on the brand, We will also adhere to everyone’s white list.

No one ever got fired for buying ZEDO:-)