73% of Ad Players Cite User Experience as a Major Industry Challenge

IAB report: digital execs focused on obstacles

The Interactive Advertising Bureau, Kargo and Refinery29 surveyed 283 marketers and media agency executives last month and found that nearly three-quarters (73%) of them believe that user experience needs improvement in digital marketing.

In other words, those players likely believe that digital ads must entail strong, creative work or risk driving consumers to use ad blockers. Smartphone owners who use ad-blocking software jumped by 90 percent in the past year, totaling nearly 420 million around the globe. Those figures came from a recent report by PageFair, a startup that helps publishers get around ad blockers, and Priori Data, which tracks mobile apps.

When it specifically comes to the multiscreen environment, the IAB survey also sussed out ad clutter, creative quality and interruptive advertising as the other chief challenges. 

Check out more of the findings below, which will be part of IAB chief Randall Rothenberg's presentation at the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity on Monday:

Meanwhile, here are six takeaways from the IAB, Kargo and Refinery29's white paper called Improving Digital Advertising Experiences with Liquid Creativity, which will inform the session Rothenberg is leading at Cannes: 

• Know the audience.
• Integrate the right content in the correct context.
• Transform user approach from transaction-driven to relationship-driven.
• Improve user experience design.
• Take risks to innovate and enable creativity with technology and data.
• Improve upon efforts at industry standardization and collaboration.

"Brand stories can more effectively reach today's audiences when they are crafted within great user experiences," added Rothenberg. "It is imperative that ad creatives, brand marketers, publishers and technologists realize that they must join forces to engage consumers in digital in new ways."

The report also quotes several notable players about the state of the industry. Here is what a few of them said:  

Mark Howard, chief revenue officer at Forbes, said "bad actors have been infinitely adding supply and completely threw off the stability of the supply and demand curve. The ability to use technology to find audiences as the potential replacement for context, the contextual alignment really negatively affected the marketplace and put pressure on publishers, causing a downward spiral in terms of pricing. Combined with issues around viewability and ad blocking, it's forcing everybody to think of user experience."

Marisa Thalberg, CMO at Taco Bell, said: "The overarching challenge is the number of touch points is exponential, a complete burden from the budget standpoint, human resources standpoint, just the scale standpoint. You know you can't do everything, you want to be where the consumer is but you really can't be everywhere. The hard part is to figure out how to scale it quickly."

Brian King, global brand and sales officer at Marriott Signature Brands, stated: "In the hospitality business, great hotels should always have a sense of humility with their customers. Because they are there to serve, never to intrude. You have to think digital is a hospitable act with your customer, and digital advertising should be that way, too. When you start to have that frame of reference, that will start changing your strategies in the ways you think about your customer in a much more 'service to' versus a 'market to' mentality.

"How you play well with others in the sandbox is critical. That's what I respect for all the people that work for us—you are going to have video, digital display, search … all the stuff is going to harmonize together, they all have different yet unified objectives. Specialization and connectivity is what I am looking for."