We Need More User Experience And Data Privacy Experts On Stage At The IAB’s Next Summit.

Todd Garland
Apr 15, 2016 · 4 min read

If you’re having a summit about a controversial topic, wouldn’t it make sense to make sure you have speakers with the expertise your summit title emphasizes before announcing it to the public? The IAB has announced that it’s having an ‘Ad Blocking and User Experience’ summit, but currently, the only experts lined up to speak at the event are Revenue Officers from major media companies and a solitary Chief Executive Officer.

As it stands, there are no UX professionals. No designers. No Privacy experts. Most notably, there are also no representatives from ad blocking companies and no consumer representation. The current lack of expertise on the topics of ad blocking and user experience should be enough to give us pause.

Now that’s audience engagement!

The media financial crisis is real, and a significant publication contraction is underway. Understanding the situation from that perspective is invaluable for publishers, both large and small. The speakers the IAB have lined up on that front are media experts, and they’ll provide insights that the industry can learn from, but if the industry is genuinely interested in kicking off a publishing renaissance, user experience and privacy experts must be front and center in discussions. Additionally, gaining a firm grasp on exactly what consumers are expecting from publishers today is imperative. The lack of attention to these topics, especially when it comes to the current list of speakers at this IAB summit suggests the industry is driven more by finances than end user engagement.

Perhaps it’s time we invert the approach and consider the fact that if we solve the user experience and privacy issues first, the financial issues may begin to correct itself automatically.

Studies have shown, continuously by the way, that both consumers and publishers believe the presentation of advertising is to blame for poor advertising user experiences online. In fact, a study from early 2016 found that 51.8 percent of respondents agreed that ad content was the most pressing issue when it came to user experience, but the also found that 95 percent of respondents believed that poor ad placements resulted in negative user experiences. When you marry those number to the fact that another 48.3 percent of users believed that ad presentation (25.8 percent) and ad context (22.4 percent) are the “most important when it comes to a user’s experience with ads,” it’s pretty obvious that the industry has a lot to gain by listening to UX and design experts.

The online advertising industry has a lot it can still learn from revenue officers at major media companies. Their involvement in the summit is crucial to framing the entirety of the issue before us; however, it’s time we start casting a wider net by beginning to cultivate ideas from others in our industry. Both UX designers and privacy experts have a critical role to play, and they’re being shut out from the conversation at the highest level. We would love to hear what publishers are doing internally to combat user experience problems, but it has more weight coming from their UX team. Similarly, data privacy commentary from notable experts may provide enough insight to accelerate the rate of change throughout the industry.

Let’s let the real experts talk on these subjects. Let’s give them a voice. Let’s put them on the ticket, with a top billing spot.

If we’re not going to listen to customers by inviting ad blocking companies to speak on their behalf (by having them explain user trends), we could start by listening to user-experience experts. If we can’t do that, the industry is just paying lip service when they say they care about customers and building a future that respects their concerns. The numbers continually speak for themselves; ad blocking is as much of a user experience problem as it is a privacy and security issue. In fact, an inadequate user experience is more of a driver for ad blocker growth than both data privacy concerns and malvertising concerns.

What would be a significant first step towards addressing the problem? Seeing more UX and privacy experts invited to speak at these events. Once the IAB finds itself comfortable with those lineup changes, they could then also extend a hand to some of the folks from AdBlock Plus and other influential ad blocking companies on the market. We would love to hear their strategies for observing the market and then listening to the concerns of users before building solutions. There’s a lot we could learn from their approach to developing better technology.

It’s disappointing that the IAB has seemingly missed that opportunity. But who knows, the IAB could have a trick up their sleeve and we’ll soon find out the lineup is more robust than we were led to believe. We can only hope.


Todd Garland

Written by

Founder, BuySellAds. Bootstrapped, Profitable, and Proud. todd at http://t.co/YvS28Gli


A People First Advertising And Distributed Workforce Company

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