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Ad Blocking

The LEAN program has helped raise awareness of the importance and impact of consumer experience in the industry. Some of these have been well received and adopted widely: 

  • Encryption (HTTPS)
  • Allowing Choice (adChoices, Transparency & Consent Framework)
  • Non-invasive ads (Coalition for Better Ads)

However…Lightweight ads is one of the areas where we have not observed the required level of adoption and it is one of the most critical principles for better user experience. Several industry programs e.g. IAB UK Gold Standard reference LEAN.

Over time it has become clear that the complexity of developing an objective score and enforcing adherence to a seal, along with a lack of industry consensus on either approach, would limit the potential adoption and value of proceeding with these proposals.

In light of limited interest and progress towards formalizing and enforcing LEAN principles, we will stop work on the LEAN Scoring and LEAN Seal initiatives.

Does that mean the end of the road for LEAN as a program? Yes. But the principles laid out under LEAN remain applicable and are supported by multiple Tech Lab standards and other industry work. To implement LEAN principles, we recommend adoption of following standards:

  • The IAB New Ad Portfolio guidance for lightweight ads incorporates extensive testing to define criteria for ad creatives that allow both ads and pages to load quickly.
  • The Transparency & Consent Framework (TCF) ensures that users always have access to and control of their privacy by including adChoices options for online behavioral advertising and implementing TCF where applicable.
  • The Coalition for Better Ads (CBA) provides well-researched and proven guidance for non-invasive ads. This requires compliance with the Better Ads Standards for ad experiences and page ad density.
  • VAST 4.x is for better video delivery and rendering. VAST 4.x (Video Ad Serving Template) includes several features that improve user experience and measurement.
  • MRAID 3.0 is for better mobile in-app delivery and rendering. The new MRAID (Mobile Rich Media Ad Interface Definitions) version supports faster and better creative execution
  • Open Measurement SDK (OMSDK) reduces SDK bloat and enables all measurement providers to verify ad viewability and Invalid Traffic with one SDK Adopt.

Detection & Post Detection

The IAB Tech Lab is developing open technology for publishers and other website content providers to consistently and reliably determine whether ad blocking is occurring on a page.

The IAB Tech Lab engineering team in collaboration with IAB members has been developing a detection utility as the ad blocking software is often not detectable by publishers’ normal analytics tools.

Most ad blockers operate in a manner that is intentionally resistant to detection.  While homegrown or vendor-created detection technologies can be used, their inconsistent discovery of ad blockers results in different measured blocking rates.  A centralized code base that determines whether ad blocking is present and is highly resistant will provide consistent measures.

  • Detection Script: The IAB Tech Lab is developing a detection script to consistently and reliably determine whether ad blocking is happening during a page load. This project is involving engineers and software developers from member companies.
  • Post Detection Best Practices: The IAB Tech Lab is preparing some guidance on what options are available to publishers once ad blocking is detected. It may include non-advertising options for businesses, such as paywalls, limiting available content, requiring accounts, etc.
  • The IAB Ad Blocking Working Group is addressing end users’ experiences and analyzing data about their tolerance to messaging, as well as developing best practices and principles for engaging consumers with ad blockers installed. The Working Group addresses detection from a technical standpoint and analyzes ad blocker behavior.

Blog post: Adopting Encryption: The Need for HTTPS

IAB Research

To ensure that we develop viable, long-term solutions, IAB has conducted research around ad blocking and user experience. IAB is also developing new research focusing on web browsers, consumer experience, data calls, latency, and other adverse effects of the supply chain on user experience so that we can make even better decisions about optimized standards and best practices for design, development, sales and operations teams.

New research will address:

  • Consumer attitudes and usage
  • The internet value proposition
  • Utility of advertising to consumers

Global Ad Blocking Studies

PwC OVK Ad Blocker Study – IAB Germany
New IAB UK research reveals latest ad blocking levels – IAB UK

Developed by the Ad Blocking Working Group

IAB Tech Lab Contact

Shailley Singh
Vice President, Product