Even companies who sell ad blocking software to consumers profess to want the ad industry to survive. But just in case, advertisers have jumped on the bandwagon behind Page Fair, a company that blocks the ad blockers. That has produced a great deal of turmoil so far in the industry, with publishers scrambling to clean up their sites and ad tech companies struggling to find ways to get rid of clients whose fraudulent bots they formerly sent to publishers with gusto to make a fraction of a cent.
As a result, for the past six months, industry groups have been meeting with representatives of ad blocking software makers, anti adblocker companies and each other to figure out how to lure back the 35% or so of digital consumers who are already blocking ads, and indeed to make sure the problem doesn’t just get worse.
The output of these meetings, as near as we can tell (they are secret) are these six tenets:
- The user must have simple tools to reject and to complain about advertising. This puts the consumer at the core of reform.
- There should be a more sustainable balance between “above the line” and “below the line” advertising on the Web. Rather than restore all ads, we should display only a limited number of premium advertising slots. This will make a better impact for brands and clean up the Web.
- Contextual targeting can be used to establish ad relevance. This will end the over reliance on behavioral tracking of users.
- Better metrics of advertising success are needed to reform the economics and quality of online advertising. This will end the race to the bottom.
If you are wondering what this means, it means that premium publishers are going to give up the small percentage of revenue they get from the kind of spammy direct response advertising that hopes a real person will click on a link to make a purchase, and stop cluttering up their sites with ads that entice consumers to click on these ads by mistake (which is the only way they ever do click on them).
Advertisers are going to focus their activities on brand advertising, because they don’t want to be known as spammers who use up their potential customers’ data plans and patiences.
And ad tech companies are going to help clean out the supply chain and get rid of the bots, malware, and fraud in the industry. They will stop endlessly retargeting users and relying on behavioral targeting that violates privacy.
Metrics that are not click through rate, or even cost per click, are coming. We just don’t know yet what those are. We’ve already moved to a private platform for buyers and sellers that allows support for header bidding and better choices for media buyers. We’ve cleaned up our own supply chain and have been working with all the industry groups. We can’t wait for this industry to grow up and be an industry that makes us proud.