During its first dozen years or so of existence, the Internet Advertising Bureau helped create digital advertising standards. But more recently, digital players have pursued extreme differentiation in their offerings, unleashing “chaos” that helped spawn problems like ad-blocking technology, says IAB CEO Randall Rothenberg.

“It was industry standards, including things like the IAB standard ad unit portfolio, that built the foundation of the digital advertising industry,” Rothenberg says in an interview with Beet.TV at the organization’s annual MIXX conference in Manhattan. “But for the past six or seven years, there’s been a move away from standardization and toward customization in advertising and marketing.”

The prevailing wisdom has been that digital companies “need extreme differentiation” to prove their worth, which is understandable, Rothenberg says. “You need to be provocative, you need to be different. But it also injects chaos into the system” in the form of intrusive advertising.

With the advent of ad-blocking software, “the consumer has been reacting to this chaos like nobody’s business. It’s an alarming trend. The entire industry, from marketers to agencies to publishers, are scared to death of it,” says Rothenberg.

What the industry needs to understand is that rational standards are necessary for companies to be not only effective but also efficient. “That efficiency travels down from the marketers all the way to the consumers,” notes Rothenberg. “They don’t want to be barraged with an enormous amount of chaos. They want to have things that are comfortable for them.”

Hence the recent formation of the Coalition for Better Ads, an amalgam of associations—including the ANA, IAB and 4A’s—and companies like Axel Springer, Google, News Corp. and The Washington Post.

“All of them are really eager to join together and create new best practices and even technical standards relating to improved user experience,” says Rothenberg. “So we’re very excited about that and think that’s the next stage, the next place the industry needs to go.”

At worst, Rothenberg concludes, advertising needs to be benign. “Just don’t get in the way. But at best advertising should be informative, entertaining, uplifting. And I think there’s a hunger for that now,” he says.

This video is part of Beet.TV’s coverage of the IAB MIXX Conference, 2016, presented by The TradeDesk.   Please find additional videos from the Conference here. 

IAB MIXX Conference 2016, presented by The TradeDesk