The mission of the Improving Web Advertising Business Group is to identify areas where standards and changes in the Web itself can improve the ecosystem and experience for users, advertisers, publishers, distributors, ad networks, agencies and others, and to oversee liaison with existing Working Groups and to create new Working Groups as needed
With the recent post from Google chromium about privacy and cookies, we’ve seen significant interest in our work and are seeing new voices join our conversation. This is great, as W3C believes our work benefits from having a broad and diverse group of participants.
We’ve also gotten the attention of the press. Recently, I talked with Lara O’Reilly from Digiday about W3C workmode and how work incubated in a Business Group can move forward to specification in a W3C Working Group or elsewhere.
What should publishers and advertisers know about the W3C? The W3C is a voluntary consensus standards organization. We provide a forum where folks in the web ecosystem can come to talk about challenges they’re facing, or new directions they’d like to be able to go with web technology, and to seek interoperable solutions.
How did the Improving Web Advertising Business Group come about? It’s been a growing concern of individual end users, publishers, advertisers and browser vendors alike that advertising is both a fuel for lots of web content, and [yet] it doesn’t work as well as we might like. Some people have performance issues or privacy concerns or feel that tracking feels creepy.
Those issues don’t serve anyone well. So that got us thinking, Could there be a win-win-win solution [of] privacy-preserving methods for advertising that serves the users who want access to web services, the publishers that want to monetize their web services and content, and advertisers who want those to be platforms for reaching users?
The Web Advertising Business Group is currently drafting documents in its GitHub repository, discussing there and by email, and meeting twice monthly by phone. We’re addressing questions such as privacy-preserving ad-metrics; server declarations that could aid in cookie-management; and the mechanics of requesting and recording consent.
We hear both that advertising data is the Web’s new oil and its original sin; that ad-blocker-blocker-blockers are an escalating arms race; that users don’t want to pay for privacy or aren’t given the opportunity to do so, but are creeped out by tracking.
Amid the hubbub, W3C provides a discussion forum for consideration of features and changes to the Web Platform that could improve the web advertising experience. That means browsers, users, publishers, advertisers, and others in the ecosystem, thinking together about win-win-win scenarios and the technical changes needed to enable them. We offer a place for information-sharing, for example around experimental implementations, common challenges, and best practices.
What might this group propose? We don’t yet know. It depends upon who shows up and where they can reach agreement, because one of W3C’s core values is consensus. As a voluntary standards-setting organization, we work through the persuasion of good ideas and strong use cases. Join the fun! Areas of discussion include:
Performance and load-time improvements
Consent management beyond cookies
Ad-display interoperability, including labeling and accessibility
Vocabulary for talking about these topics among different parts of the ecosystem
Advertising is an essential and critical part of the Web ecosystem, and plays an instrumental role in helping realize our vision of One Web for Everyone Everywhere. Advertising revenues help support a huge proportion of the content and services available to people on the Web, by covering cover day-to-day operational costs while allowing usage and access to all visitors.
Since the core Web platform was not designed with advertising use cases in mind, most current Web facing advertising technology has been built on top of application-level hacks which, too often, result in a substantially degraded end-user experience with ample opportunities for tampering and exploitation by malicious agents.