Ad blockers have defeated the ad industry

Ad blockers have finally become strong enough to accomplish their ultimate goal – not to simply block ads, but to let advertisers and ad networks know that people are fed up with ads popping up from every conceivable location.

One of the most important people in the online advertising industry has admitted that it’s gone way too far. Scott Cunningham, senior vice president of technology of the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) and general manager of its Tech Lab, wrote an honest blog post on Thursday, saying the ad industry “messed up”.

The IAB is composed of 650 organizations that serve some 86 percent of online advertisements.

“As technologists, tasked with delivering content and services to users, we lost track of the user experience”, he says.

“We were so clever and so good at it that we over-engineered the capabilities of the plumbing laid down by, well, ourselves. This steamrolled the users, depleted their devices, and tried their patience.”

So what does he propose? Something called the L.E.A.N. Ads program. LEAN stands for Light, Encrypted, Ad choice supported and Non-invasive ads, and it’s designed to guide future online advertising standards and best practices.

Cunningham wrote it will address issues such as retargeting, a practice where a targeted ad is shown to people when they're on other websites. He wrote that people should not be retargeted after they've made a purchase.

He concludes his blog post by saying that the job must be done in an “increasingly fragmented market, across screens”.

“We must do this in environments where entire sites are blocked, purposefully or not.”