The most irritating and the most acceptable ad formats as researched by the Coalition for Better Ads

Founded in 2016, the Coalition for Better Ads has recently shared the results of it’s ad perception research, naming the most and the least acceptable ad experiences. Ad formats for desktop and mobile web has been rated and ranked separately.

Coalition for Better Ads is an association of the biggest advertisers, platforms and adtech developers worried about ad blockers popularity growth and intended to "improve the consumer online ad experience". The coalition includes Facebook, Google, Procter & Gamble, Unilever, The Washington Post, News Corp, Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) with it's area divisions as well as other companies and non-commercial organizations.

Research participants, - 25.000 US and Europe citizens total, - were asked to rate 104 different ad formats by a number of factors (annoyance or disruptiveness, for example) and to compare them with each other. To do this they were reading a text on a desktop or mobile page without and with ads and were answering questions concerning their perception of these banners.

Researchers named 6 formats for desktop and 12 for mobile sites that are "fall beneath a threshold of consumer acceptability". These ad formats show the highest correlation with the use of ad blockers. Moreover, people preffer not to share pages with unacceptable advertisement in social networks and not to return to them.

Expectedly, the quintessence of evil on desktop are pop-ups, sticky ads (that save their position while scrolling and don’t disappear out of sight), auto-play videos with sound and prestitial ads.

Least of all the users are irritated by the

Narrow ads on right-hand side turned out to be the least irritating& Among the most tolerable and acceptable are banners refreshing twice a minute and static large images at the top of a page. Ads with a countdown are bearable if they take 3-10 sec of attention.

As for the mobile web, pop-up ads, prestitial and postitial ads with a countdown, flashing animations and fullscreen scrollover ads proved themselves untolerable, along with large sticky ads and auto-playing videos with sound. Advertisement shouldn’t be higher than 30% of the screen.

All the unacceptable formats have illustrated descriptions on Betteragds.org. The Coalition advises advertisers and platforms to avoid using them.

We are happy to witness these attempts of making ads less aggressive and intrusive, but Coalition's strategy perspectives look doubtful to us. Advertisers use video, animations, sticky banners and pop-ups not because they fail to realize the intrusiveness and egoism of such formats. An ad's effectiveness is thought to be flatly connected with it's ability to attract attention. Websites are more concerned about users' comfort, but advertisers motivate them financially to place aggressive formats. The Coalition for Better Ads doesn’t seem to have relatively effective motivation tools to implement their advice.

Interactive Advertising Bureau has already tried to introduce standards of more "humane' advertisement. In 2015 it proposed the LEAN (Light, Encrypted, Ad choice supported, Non-invasive ads) standards system also based upon a research results. But since then ads have become only even more obtrusive and aggressive.

Business is ready to do something only when the action drives an income, or inactivity causes sanctions. Non-commercial advertisers’ coalitions still can neither compel nor convince businesses to comply with any ad usability standards.

Ludmila Kudryavtseva

Ludmila is a true Pro when it comes to research and content creation. While others write texts, she paints with words. Not even our competitors can resist the urge to comment on her articles!

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