As countless iPhone users have flocked to ad-blocking technology to try to escape from slow-loading, insecure online advertisements, a top trade group for advertisers is apologizing for having "messed up" the Web.
The systems that allowed marketers to track and target advertisements "have slowed down the public internet and drained more than a few batteries," Scott Cunningham, senior vice president of technology at the Interactive Advertising Bureau, wrote in a blog post. "We were so clever and so good at it that we over-engineered the capabilities of the plumbing laid down by, well, ourselves."
As a result, companies such as Apple, Facebook and Google have developed their own coping mechanisms. Apple offers consumers news content in its Apple News app, bypassing the public Web. Facebook's Instant Articles, which allow publishers to partner with Facebook so their content loads more quickly, follows the same logic. And Google's Accelerated Mobile Pages project tries to strip Web sites of all but their most essential code, enhancing efficiency.
Many of these efforts have frightened publishers and other content companies that rely on advertising for revenue. And now that anxiety appears to be infecting advertisers themselves.
In response, IAB says it's launching a LEAN ads program — for Light, Encrypted, Ad-choice supported and Non-invasive. Essentially, what IAB is promising are guidelines for friendlier, more secure advertisements. For beleaguered consumers who are looking for a respite from the barrage of low-quality ads online, this could be a promising first step.