Not every publisher and advertiser will follow these standards, but the standards are important because they help establish best practices around what is and isn’t acceptable for the industry. If done right, they help maintain a balance where publishers can make money and users aren’t so annoyed that they rush to download ad blockers.
Alanna Gombert, the general manager of the IAB Tech Lab, said that these new standards have been in development for the past four years. Today’s release represents the finalized version of what was published last fall for public comment.
“It’s really about, how do we create a new ad portfolio that’s with the times, that’s easier to implement and customizable?” Gombert said.
One of the big changes is a move away from fixed sizes for the various ad units — instead, each unit has been given a minimum and maximum width and height. Gombert said this change reflects the shift to cross-screen and responsive advertising, where the ad size can adjust to the size of the window.
She added that the IAB is “sunsetting” certain ad formats, like giant interstitial ads that take over your screen and preventing you from clicking through to the content.
Advertisers are also looking at new technologies, so the IAB is offering guidelines around augmented reality, virtual reality, social media and even emoji ads. Everything is designed to comply with the organization’s LEAN principles, which means they should be lightweight, encrypted and support AdChoices privacy controls.
Gombert acknowledged that there were some “contentious” discussions, for example around autoplaying video and audio. The IAB does have standards around when ads don’t have to start out muted (the sound on your device has to be turned on, and the ad has to have “100% share of screen”), but Gombert said her team will “dive deeper” in the coming months to create more detailed guidelines.
More broadly, she said we can expect the standards to be updated much more quickly in the future.
“Part of my charter was to create a workflow and a framework to release changes to all of our products, including the ad portfolio, in a very quick and seamless fashion,” Gombert said. “We’re not going to have another four-year-long process.”