The ‘Coalition for Better Ads’ and its impact on your business
9 November 2022
Advertising platforms worldwide are implementing a new policy outlined by the ‘Coalition for Better Ads’. This policy states that ad destination pages and advertisements must comply with certain international standards, the so-called ‘Better Ads Standards’. These standards aim to make improve the online user experience of consumers.
But what does the implementation of the Better Ads Standards mean for your business and ads? Find out all you need to know in this blog.
Who or what is the Coalition for Better Ads?
The Coalition for Better Ads (CBA) is an alliance of some of the leading international companies (including Google, Microsoft, IAB and Facebook) involved in online media. The CBA's goal is to improve consumers' user experience with online ads.
To achieve its goal, the CBA created the Better Ads Standards. These are international standards for online ads, based on the alliance’s expertise and a consumer survey with insights from more than 150,000 respondents.
Why the need for better ad standards?
For years, consumers on the internet were besieged by irritating and intrusive ads. This affected their user experience and led many people to install ad blockers.
However, ad blockers are the enemy for anyone working with digital ads and for businesses that want to reach their target audiences with relevant ads. The use of ad blockers characterises a “broken” user experience for many consumers. So now it is up to marketers, agencies, publishers and ad technology providers to join forces and find a solution to fix said user experience.
A comprehensive consumer survey by the Coalition for Better Ads was an important step towards finding that solution. Thanks to the survey, we now know which ad formats and experiences consumers find most irritating. As such, the survey served as one of the key building blocks for the Better Ads Standards, which provide publishers and advertisers with helpful guidelines on which ad formats and experiences to avoid.
"Neal Thurman, director of the Coalition for Better Ads, said that the installation rate of ad blockers on desktop Chrome in North America and Europe has dropped by 60% since discussions about the formation of the coalition began in late 2016 and the first quarter of 2020."
- Digiday, August 2020
Since the founding of the CBA and the introduction of the Better Ads Standards, the installation rate of ad blockers in Google Chrome has dropped significantly. Admittedly, this drop can not only be attributed to the Better Ads Standards. Google’s introduction of Chrome ad filtering, which blocks websites and ads that are considered too intrusive, in Q1 of 2018 has also been an important factor.
Why is the CBA’s focus only now turning to advertisers?
When the CBA launched the Better Ads Standards in 2018, the focus of the alliance was on communicating the launch to – and implementing the Standards among website publishers. The aim at the time was to take a big step towards improving the user experience of consumers, as website publishers were, and still are, responsible for the ‘quality control’ and publication of ads. When publishers refuse ads on their website(s), advertisers have to change their approach or ad creations to continue to use those websites.
As of October 2022, however, website publishers no longer have to bear the responsibility of ad quality control alone. Google will start implementing the Better Ads Standards for ads and ad destination pages as well. Ads and ad destination pages that Google believes do not meet the Better Ads Standards will be rejected. It is because of this policy change that the CBA is now also targeting advertisers more.
Here is a good rule of thumb: if an ad on your page interrupts a visitor's user experience, it almost certainly violates the Better Ads Standards, meaning it will be rejected from November on.
What should you keep in mind when creating new ads?
The CBA encourages advertisers, publishers, app developers and ad technology providers to review their current strategy around ads and website experience in order to improve their marketing efforts and their ads’ user experience.
On its website, the CBA gives a detailed explanation of all the Better Ads Standards by ad format and device (desktop, mobile or app). This way, advertisers have all the necessary information for ad campaign creation and execution at their disposal.
By implementing and following the Better Ads Standards, you can avoid having your ads rejected. Don’t look at your ad itself alone, but also at all the content on your own website that your ads lead to. Google will rate all content on your website, regardless of whether it is displayed through your domain. For example, content loaded onto your website in an iframe or video player is also considered part of your website.
Some examples of the Better Ads Standards
Below, we explain the Better Ads Standards for the 3 ad types that are often used, but no longer allowed. Besides these 3 ad types, there are others that are less common. You can check the standards for these ad types on the CBA website.
You can no longer use pop-up ads (pop-ups) on your website (even if they pop up for only a couple of seconds), as the ads block the view of your website and draw all attention away from your content.
There are some ‘closing’ pop-ups that you are still allowed to use, but only when:
The user is leaving the page and the pop-up does not affect the user's departure.
The user has been inactive for more than 30 seconds on a page that does not contain video content.
The user has reached the end of the first article on a page.
The user deliberately navigates to another tab and then returns to your page.
Video ads with sound
Video ads with sound will be rejected if the video sound starts playing automatically. However, the Better Ads Standards do not apply to video ads displayed before (pre-roll) or during (mid-roll) video content that is relevant to the content of the page itself, or to ads that require the sound to be activated with a click.
Prestitial ads with a timer
Prestitial ads with a timer are displayed before a page's content has loaded, requiring the user to wait a few seconds before the ad can be closed or before it closes automatically.
Prestitial ads played in desktop environments that users cannot close immediately are not included in the Better Ads Standards.
A few handy tips
To help you make your website ands ads comply with the Better Ads Standards, we have collected a few handy tips:
Use the 'Ad Experience Report' in Google Search Console, at https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/ad-experience-unverified to check if your website complies. Note that there is a separate check for your website on desktop versus on mobile.
If your website uses pop-ups, images that remain fixed when people scroll, or videos with automatic sound playback, be sure to check out the detailed guidelines and permitted exceptions at https://support.google.com/webtools/answer/7129127?hl=nl&ref_topic=7071812
What are the advantages for your business and website?
By implementing the Better Ads Standards:
You can help reduce the number of AdBlock users, giving your ads more data to build remarketing or lookalike targeting.
Your website’s user experience and user engagement increases.
You can generate more ad revenue in the long run. (if you have ads on your own site).
You can start advertising on more websites. (Well-paid advertisers are careful about their brand image, which is why they are unwilling to display ads that are intrusive or disruptive to users.)
(If you’re a publisher), you can expect more ad spend to go towards good ad experiences, as the industry shifts towards a user-centric approach.
Looking for an advertising partner?
Not yet up to speed with the CBA and its Better Ads Standards? No worries, our ad experts are happy to help you out and tell you everything you need to know.
Joris JansAdvertising Strategist - iO
With a history at Google, Arvato and Hewlett-Packard – as well as a past of working in Ireland, Denmark and the United Kingdom - Joris has learned the ins and outs of digital performance marketing, SEA and Google Ads through and through, from strategy to execution. Today, he shares those experiences across the iO ranks, to deliver ads that score, convert and inspire.