Since Apple made its mobile operating system compatible with ad blockers, Internet publishers and other online content creators have fretted that their primary source of revenue could dry up. And last week, Google introduced Accelerated Mobile Pages, which will give publishers the ability to create web pages that load faster–but also means that bulky advertising may not run on the pages if they significantly slow down loading times.
Suffice it to say, advertisers need to find a way to offer ads that are less intrusive and more secure. In a blog post on Thursday, the advertising trade association Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) copped to the fact that advertising has become too bloated and has slowed down the Internet.
“We messed up,” the post reads. “As technologists, tasked with delivering content and services to users, we lost track of the user experience… The fast, scalable systems of targeting users with ever-heftier advertisements have slowed down the public internet and drained more than a few batteries. We were so clever and so good at it that we over-engineered the capabilities of the plumbing laid down by, well, ourselves. This steamrolled the users, depleted their devices, and tried their patience.”
Scott Cunningham, the organization’s SVP of technology and ad ops who penned the post, explained that IAB was debuting a new set of standards for advertisers, called the L.E.A.N. ads program. “L.E.A.N. stands for Light, Encrypted, Ad choice supported, Non-invasive ads,” he wrote. “These are principles that will help guide the next phases of advertising technical standards for the global digital advertising supply chain.” He noted that these were meant to be guiding principles and did not replace the existing ad standards.
In the face of rampant ad blocking, Cunningham says this is a measure to make ads more palatable for users. From the IAB blog post:
The rise of ad blocking poses a threat to the internet and could potentially drive users to an enclosed platform world dominated by a few companies. We have let the fine equilibrium of content, commerce, and technology get out of balance in the open web. We had, and still do have, a responsibility to educate the business side, and in some cases to push back. We lost sight of our social and ethical responsibility to provide a safe, usable experience for anyone and everyone wanting to consume the content of their choice.
A number of tech companies have now created their own platforms on which to host content, which means they can exercise greater control over the accompanying ads and user interface. Both Apple News and Facebook’s Instant Articles allow users to read articles without leaving their respective walled gardens, thus promising speedy loading times and fewer intrusive ads.