Gucci, cited for its “Lounge” campaign, is one of four fashion nominees for the 2006 Images in Advertising Awards.

Responding to complaints from among its 100,000 or so visitors each month, gay marketing watchdog The Commercial Closet is turning over its online ad ratings to its users and reinventing the criteria by which users will assess the ads.

NEW YORK — Responding to complaints from among its 100,000 or so visitors each month, gay marketing watchdog The Commercial Closet is turning over its online ad ratings to its users and reinventing the criteria by which users will assess the ads.

“People were either not understanding or disagreeing with the ratings in the past,” said Michael Wilke, The Commercial Closet’s executive director, who, along with an assistant, has been rating ads for the nonprofit organization, which advocates better representation of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered consumers in marketing campaigns.

Ads will be rated according to three criteria: How an LGBT theme is responded to by people in an ad, how a viewer is likely intended to respond to an ad and the assignment of a numeric value, based on the median of scores given to various themes in an ad. The scores for those themes will be based on the existing ratings scale of positive, negative, neutral and gay vague. Ad raters will be asked to submit demographic data such as occupation, age, gender and sexual orientation, and the ratings subsequently will be identified by user type.

In another development, Commercial Closet has nominated the ads of four fashion brands for its second annual Images in Advertising Awards, to be given May 23: Diesel, Gucci and Polo Jeans for outstanding print-outdoor, mainstream, and Dolce & Gabbana for outstanding international, commercial.

In addition to the group’s new ratings system, anticipated to bow midsummer, The Commercial Closet is soliciting personal and individual memberships in exchange for access to content Wilke expects to start posting this summer for the first time on the organization’s Web site. That content will include case studies and policy papers, with some contributions by people outside the organization.

Individual memberships will probably be priced between $35 and $50, while a corporate membership is likely to go for $1,000. Ads that can be viewed in larger video formats or by downloading them to portable devices such as MP3 players will be on offer to individual members. Corporate members will be able to test ads, prior to launching them, with the Commercial Closet audience.

Information such as the ad ratings and news currently posted at The Commercial Closet Web site will continue to be available for free.

This story first appeared in the May 19, 2006 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.