#CampDavid Europe · 2016-02-11 11:52 by Ben Williams
Last Tuesday night we hosted our second #CampDavid session in London after holding a similar event in Manhattan in November. We called together about 30 leading European publishers, tech companies, content creators, advertisers, nonprofits and activists to discuss how we should approach and structure our plans for an independent Acceptable Ads Committee that will take over the Acceptable Ads initiative later this year.
Disclaimer: we are still collecting feedback on and refining our idea of the Acceptable Ads Committee – nothing you read in this post is by any means final, and we invite you to continue sharing your ideas – we still have our ears firmly to the ground.
London and New York
Our goal for #CampDavid Europe was similar to that of #CampDavid NYC: get a lot of smart folks who work in ads around one table, shut up and listen to what they have to say.
The stage, however, was quite different this time: we were in a bomb shelter turned wine cellar located deep beneath the streets of London, which some attendees jokingly suggested might be a clever ploy to trap advertisers at last in one place … then throw away the key. In Manhattan we were in a hotel meeting room: a nice venue, just absent the 380-year ambiance of a historic bomb shelter.
The discussion itself was just as heated (at times) and vibrant as in New York, but again, the content of it contrasted with New York. For instance, while much of the discussion in Manhattan centered around how the committee would be formed and governed, the Europeans in London immediately honed in on who would be on the committee and what an “acceptable” ad should be. Specifically, attendees immediately seized upon the point that advertising agencies needed to be present at #CampDavid – we invited several, none could make it – and on the committee. Also, those around the table felt we asserted that creative types like designers might hold a spot on the committee.
In addition, our subterranean guests also suggested that the committee should present data demonstrating that ads meeting the Acceptable Ads criteria provide value for the industry and the user. We’d brainstormed this idea before, so having it validated by a larger group lent it priority going forward.
Finally, someone there brought up a novel but basic idea: finding a (nonintrusive) way to ask our users why they decided to install an ad blocker in the first place. Lots of studies go after this information – indeed, we used one such survey as the basis for an update to our criteria – but if actual users tell us it takes some of the guesswork out of it. Something along these lines will likely take a while to implement, because there are significant user experience issues involved in any “user survey”; but if there were a way to get this information without annoying anyone, it would lead to more granular blocking possibilities and a better idea of what we shouldn’t block. That is, what is acceptable. Great idea.
How all this talking refined our proposal
After the first #CampDavid, we suggested some fundamental objectives to guide the Acceptable Ads Committee. Armed with all the feedback we received we were able to boil those down to the following:
- Protecting user experience
- Finding nonintrusive ad formats
- Creating meaningful monetization opportunities
In addition, as I wrote about above, we need to somehow include ad agencies and creatives in the groups represented on the committee. At the end of the day, the rest won’t be up to us. That will be the committee’s job.
Well, we’ve clearly got our work cut out for us. In a few weeks we will send attendees of both #CampDavid meetings an updated proposal for our Acceptable Ads Committee. Next, “I’ll be at SXSW”, and while there I’m planning to host a Meetup somewhere, sometime (please come! details will be coming soon …). In addition to that, we’re planning a series of additional Meetups throughout the US during the spring and summer. Keep up with this blog for details.
Finally, we’ll get down to the nitty gritty. We’re going to make a new website about everything Acceptable Ads, including the committee which will oversee the program.
We’re hoping to roll it out the door toward the end of the year. Fingers crossed.
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