Do online advertising standards work? Is there a real point to them?
The online and interactive advertising industry will have you believe that this is the only way to get both advertisers and publishers on the same page (so to speak) when it comes to delivering the ultimate user experience, but the truth of the matter is that having standards for banner ads (and even rich media ads) is not even beginning to scratch the surface of what's needed if we really feel we need standards around online advertising.
There's just too much going on.
Banners, rich media, alternate creative ideas for spaces that used to be held for banners (check out VideoEgg), email marketing, affiliate marketing, search engine marketing, Social Media marketing, audio ads for Podcasts and it just keeps going on and on. Beyond that, for each and every new platform also comes talks, discussions and strategies around what the advertising models will look like. Rumours abound that Twitter is soon to announce something about how they plan to monetize their platform, and Apple just announced their iAd platform the other day in hopes of helping app developers create a stronger revenue stream through advertising.
It just keeps getting crazier and crazier.
Just look at how many different mobile devices are in market. Think about the many different types of mobile sites. Now, help me figure out how you create any semblance of what should be considered standards for that one advertising platform? On top of that, what happens if publishers and advertisers don't adhere to these standards? What do we do with them?
How can we make this work?
That's the really tough question. Because, we're not just talking about TV ads, where most of us understand the length, code of ethics and what you can (and can't) do with the media. This is everything from text, audio, video and images to platforms owned by some of the biggest media companies in the world to a one-person shop in a random basement. On top of that, as long as we focus solely on only a few of the channels and types of advertising, what does that say about the ones we're not creating standards for? Are they too new? Do we not care about them? Are they less relevant?
Something has to give.
If we're going to create online advertising standards, we're going to have to look at this from a global perspective (not just by country or by individual type of online media). We need to figure out why we need these standards and we're going to need to define what happens to those who don't follow the standards.
Afterall, what the point in standards if nobody has to follow them and they don't apply to every aspect of advertising in the digital channels?