Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) CEO Randall Rothenberg has stated that brands should take more responsibility and better manage their experiences if they want to put an end to certain issues surrounding the ad economy.

Rothenberg covered a range of contentious issues in a podcast for Digiday UK, also pitching in on a lack of transparency around ad trading.

Still, it was hard to ignore the executive’s comments on ad blockers, which are considered a big concern for almost every party in the ad industry, and a problem the IAB has been trying to fight heavily in the States.

“Whether it’s legal is up to the courts. I’m saying morally and ethically they’re beyond the pale and out to be impaled,” he commented.

A growing issue

Ad blockers have become a big topic across the industry, bringing the work of publishers and advertisers into question, and it’s a fast-spreading trend. The IAB estimates that 22% of all online users in the UK download tools to block certain types of inventory, while PageFair has the figure at 16% for the US.

With the internet being open and easily-accessible, the advertising industry can thrive and develop, but it also poses a potential risk of fraud and bad practice. According to Rothenberg, for-profit ad block software makers are simply “thieves”.

In a prior interview with TechCrunch, he has however admitted to “no argument” on users of the software, who simply want a better online experience, even if the practice hits publishers.

Taking responsibility

Rothenberg’s words reflect the views of the IAB, considering ad blocking as a threat to the free web.

Although the IAB can’t change the open architecture of the internet and set up standards the industry would be forced to follow, it has taken a different approach.

In a bid to start the process of fixing the problem at the publishers’ level, the organisation has launched two initiatives: DEAL, aimed to pinpoint the amount of ad-blocking users, asks them to turn the software off and, ultimately, cut off their access, while LEAN focuses on making ads less invasive.

“We are doing everything we can to work with our publishers and ad tech suppliers,” Rothenberg told TechCrunch.

In the podcast this week, he also spoke highly of DEAL, having shown a 40-60% success rate in getting users of ad blockers to delete their software.

The solution, according to Rothenberg, is for publishers to take responsibility for both the ad experience within their control and what others do on their behalf.

“You are responsible for the supplier you are hiring,” he further told Digiday.

“If we create that chain of responsibility, you clean it up.”

Ad blocking was one of the hot topics at the recent Performance Marketing Insights: Europe. Watch Helen Southgate talk about her perspective on the issue and how it draws in the affiliate marketing industry.