BRUSSELS/WASHINGTON DC: A transatlantic coalition of advertising trade bodies, agencies, global brands and media companies has released new guidance to help the industry improve the standards of desktop and mobile ads.

The Coalition for Better Ads said its Initial Better Ads Standards report reflected consumer advertising preferences in North America and Europe because it was based on the reactions of 25,000 consumers to 104 ad experiences.

Coming at a time when the industry is grappling with the rise of ad blocking technology, the study identified the ad experiences that "fall beneath a threshold of consumer acceptability" – or, in other words, the ads that simply annoy consumers.

Six desktop web ad experiences and 12 mobile web ad experiences fell beneath this threshold, according to the report. For desktop, these covered pop-up ads, auto-play video ads with sound, prestitial ads with countdown and large sticky ads.

Meanwhile, the most annoying ads on mobile were pop-up ads, prestitial ads, ads with density greater than 30%, flashing animated ads, auto-play video ads with sound, poststitial ads with countdown, full-screen scrollover ads, and large sticky ads.

The two lists may not come as much of a surprise to the industry following previously released guidance from the likes of the Interactive Advertising Bureau, but the head of the IAB gave his full support to the initiative.

"We hope these initial standards will be a wake-up call to brands, retailers, agencies, publishers, and their technology suppliers, and that they will retire the ad formats that research proves annoy and abuse consumers," said Randall Rothenberg, President and CEO of the IAB.

"If they don't, ad blocking will rise, advertising will decline, and the marketplace of ideas and information that supports open societies and liberal economies will slide into oblivion."

Major brands also welcomed the guidance, with Keith Weed, CMO at Unilever, observing that better advertising is in everyone's interest and that the industry has a responsibility to find better ways of making ads and content that "really engages people".

"The work of the Coalition to identify consumer preferences around ad formats will be a highly useful and insightful tool for the brand builders, advertisers and advertising agencies who are working to improve the quality of advertising for the viewer while driving effectiveness and efficiencies for the brand," he said.

Data sourced from Coalition for Better Ads; additional content by Warc staff