July 21, 2017

What Sizmek Thinks About the New Better Ads Standards


From high-impact programmatic executions to advanced data-driven techniques for viewability and verification, advancements in digital advertising are creating new opportunities for creating connection with audiences every day. But this progress means we need to understand and establish standards to create that connection. The Coalition for Better Ads (CBA) recently undertook a first stab at putting together its initial Better Ads Standards—and it’s created some questions that we’d like to help answer.

What Are the Better Ads Standards?

The CBA is made up of leading international trade associations and companies from the online advertising industry. The CBA polled 25,000 consumers across North America and Europe about their desktop web and mobile web experiences. The survey identified four types of desktop web ads and eight types of mobile web ads that were viewed by consumers to be intrusive and annoying. The data collected contributed to the development of the initial Better Ads Standards document, kicking off the Coalition’s mission to establish a new global standard for digital advertising that is more user-focused.

CBA’s comprehensive research reinforces much of what Sizmek has found in our own Rich Media Best Practices, which we’ve updated for 2017. The new reality: The growth of ad blocker technology means that advertisers must become more mindful of how ads are experienced by consumers.

The CBA’s research identified the ad experiences that ranked the lowest across a range of user experience factors and that were most highly correlated with an increased propensity for consumers to adopt ad blockers—basically, to paraphrase, these were the ads that users disliked the most.

The CBA used this research to create the standards so that marketers could create more positive ad experiences for consumers and avoid those that users dislike. This data can also help shape how publishers sell ad space to create a more stable environment, speed load times, and offer consumers choice in how they interact with ad content.

Sizmek’s Position: Better Ad Standards Means Better Ad Experiences—and Better Results  

Inspiring ad experiences that engage consumers and provide useful information benefit advertisers, audiences, and publishers alike. Sizmek is continually striving to create a more user-friendly internet, and we believe minimizing intrusive, annoying ad practices is necessary to preserve the health of our industry.

For example, we design Sizmek formats to enhance consumer experiences and limit intrusive functionality. Through our creative ops team and numerous creative resources such as Sizmek Rich Media Best Practices 2017, we provide our clients with best practice guidance to mitigate the usage of intrusive tactics. Sizmek encourages clients to take advantage of our quality assurance services so you can be discover if your ads are or not reaching their potential—or maybe even becoming annoying—and can be provided with alternatives.

Essentially everyone in the digital ecosystem plays a role in helping to keep it healthy—the technology provider, advertiser, agency, and publisher.

The Role of Agencies

Agencies need to be aware of the publishers and media that are being purchased for their advertisers and of the precautionary measures technology providers take to protect agency clients. Measures such as Sizmek’s quality assurance process flag functionality that may be intrusive to users. Sizmek encourages agencies to ask their account manager about the latest high-impact format executions that are unobtrusive and respectful to the end user.

The Role of Publishers

Publishers play a powerful role in being proactive toward weeding out disruptive formats and placing stricter guidelines around ads that contain annoying user interactivity and deployment. For example, if autoplay is a permitted feature on a site, video should be triggered as muted and as an in-page impression unless the user has engaged. Ensuring file weights and load times are reasonable is vital to maintaining a positive user experience. In general, any action that takes place without a user request should be closely examined as a potential violation of user-friendly performance.

Sizmek encourages publishers to work closely with the Sizmek Creative Innovations Team to design, implement and certify new high-impact omnichannel formats that are in compliance with the tenets of the Better Ads Standard.

Sizmek’s mantra is to “create impressions that inspire,” and as we move forward, Sizmek will continue to champion approaches that maximize inspiration and eliminate intrusion, and work with publishers, media and creative agencies, and industry partners toward that end goal.

A Sampling of Sizmek’s Best Practices for User-Friendly Advertising

Ad technology and hardware continues to evolve at a remarkable pace. Sizmek affords brands the ability to take control with the right technology and interactive design best practices, providing a single solution for brands to scale campaigns in a safe and efficient manner—guiding the user through memorable experiences.

Even before the Coalition for Better Ads released its Better Ads Standards, Sizmek was working to promote user-friendly ad practices. In 2015, we created the Sizmek UX Best Practices for our platform users, which established recommended load times, touch-friendly interfaces, and ways to create trustworthiness. We continue to update these best practices as we monitor ad designs, keeping the best interests of our audiences and brand partners—and the latest technology and interactive design trends—in mind.

Rich Media: Typical User Flow


Implement Visual Cues

Use visual cues, like arrows or other obvious symbols, so that there is no doubt in a user’s mind what they are supposed to do to get from their action. Especially in complex campaign, incorporating user-friendly design with programmatic technology and DCO allows for optimal safety and consistency as well as maximum ROI for brands.


Make Interactive Elements Large and Inviting

Especially when uses are on mobile devices, making your interactive “hot spots” large enough so they are easy to use—and so that users want to interact with them—is key to making your ads work.


The Key to Best Practices? Put the User First

Putting the user first when building a creative strategy supports consistency and builds trust. The goal should be to provide complete ad experiences that rely on user guidance, not obstruction, with intuitive interfaces that generate positive results.

Are you following best practices and getting the most out of your ad experiences? Find out by connecting with your Sizmek representative or contact us here.