A decade worth celebrating and an exciting future to embrace

We’ve had a lot to celebrate this year. Apart from hitting our 225 million user mark, or the highly-anticipated launch of Trestle, 2021 is also the year we turned ten


A lot has happened to get us to our big anniversary today. So, as the year closes, it’s only natural to look back at our adventure with Acceptable Ads, to show gratitude but also to look forward in anticipation of what the next decade will bring.


Here are some of our top highlights over the years:

Though, of course we aren’t going to leave you hanging with just a list of achievements. In this final blog post for the year, we thought it’d be insightful to share some thoughts from those who have been at Acceptable Ads from the beginning and from a few others who have seen its vital developmental years. In short: to give a bit of flesh and life to such a happy string of accomplishments by allowing the voices of Acceptable Ads to give you their take. 


Fondest memories


The first question asked was “What is the fondest memory you have of working on Acceptable Ads?” Interestingly, the common denominator in the answers revolved around growth and change. 


For some, the years brought on some crucial changes as the company scaled. 


Job Plas, Director of Industry Relations (and eyeo’s first employee), said a pivotal moment to note is the inception of the Acceptable Ads Committee in 2017. 


“Before this moment, eyeo worked on creating the Acceptable Ads Standard. This made a lot of sense for the first years when we were a startup, but 2017 was an inflection point. We reached a meaningful point the year before when we surpassed the 100 million active user mark, and it was time to treat Acceptable Ads as a proper standard, on par with standards flowing from the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and the Coalition for Better Ads (CBA). One of the best decisions we made in the last ten years was to provide an agency of the standard to the industry, i.e., digital rights organizations and ad-blocking users.“


For others, the years saw a positive change in users’ sentiments toward the brand. For Susie Concannon, B2B Marketing Manager,


“There’s a legitimacy that the industry caught on to. The industry is recognizing that this massive block of users (ad-filterers) is an important audience and they have an opinion on advertising. We have data showing that we have made a difference by talking to users and industry people at events over the years. It took years and a lot of patience, but we got there.” 


Since users have always been at the very core of our work at Acceptable Ads, our focus on users has only grown in due course. In fact, Aditya Padhye, General Manager, Trestle at eyeo, echoed Concannon’s sentiment by remarking that he joined eyeo because


it’s almost impossible to find a company in the advertising space that end users love so much.” 

Growing trends


Similar to the industry as a whole, Acceptable Ads has grown and adapted to trends within the advertising space. 


According to Product Owner, Caroline Louwette, Acceptable Ads has developed from its early days as a simple text-ads proposal into a mature product. By working with Acceptable Ads partners to help them integrate ads onto their websites, Louwette has had a front-row seat to witness the ability and flexibility of the Acceptable Ads Standard and what it brings to the table for partners.


It’s incredible to see how readily available Acceptable Ads is for almost all online advertising products.” 


Plas shed some light on the topic of scaling and how changing trends have improved the visibility of Acceptable Ads. 


“There was once a time where very few industry stakeholders knew what Acceptable Ads or ad blockers were. I was laughed at in the first years trying to advocate for an online advertising standard that respected users and factored in the obtrusiveness of ad experiences. Slowly things started to change, and the industry realized that the online advertising experience had gotten out of hand and the user was never a variable. Since then, we have seen more adoption and alignment to work towards a standard that puts the user above short-term profits. “


For Concannon, there’s been a noticeable shift in how Acceptable Ads is treated within the industry.


“Acceptable Ads has been around for ten years in many countries and top websites worldwide. This is a shift that the industry can’t deny; this is something necessary brokering some harmony between all of the stakeholders in the industry.”


Predictions for the future of Acceptable Ads


Part of our growth in 2021 included the launch of Trestle, a dedicated advertiser solution that bridges the gap between advertisers and ad-filtering users. Padhye envisions a future for Acceptable Ads where the


Acceptable Ads Standard, as well as ‘normal ads’ will both evolve and the boundaries will blur.” He believes that this is possible by generating and delivering value for advertisers. 


As for Louwette, the coming years will see an improvement in the overall quality of the ads presented via Acceptable Ads. Now that the team is engaging more with advertisers and ad agencies, this will overall boost the quality of the ads at their creative origin.


“I’m sure this will further strengthen the ads’ appeal to the users. Other than that, we’ll constantly have to stay on top of the online advertising market’s developments to make sure that Acceptable Ads continues to represent viable monetization solutions to keep a healthy, open and free internet.”


Additionally, Plas and Concannon both believe that users will have a more substantial role in the years to come.


“Acceptable Ads is going to continue to be at the forefront of the fight for a fair balance for all parties, including users. Users are becoming more aware of what goes into their internet experience. With that, I think the pressure will be on publishers and advertisers to create a respectful internet experience for users. There won’t be a point where we’d feel that the internet is ‘fixed’, but as advertising and the internet continue to be tweaked, moved, and discussed, Acceptable Ads will continue to lead the conversation in a way that others in the industry haven’t been,” said Concannon.


The web has evolved into a place where different user segments are served different ad experiences, and more people have realized this. For example, intrusive animated or blinking banners might be feasible for 70 percent of users. But for 20% of the users active on the web, a much more tailored and non-obtrusive standard is the only way to reach these users. With that in mind, Plas reckons that


“Acceptable Ads will scale further, and more publishers and publishing houses will implement different experiences for their Acceptable Ads user bases. In addition, advertisers will get to understand the value of this fascinating subset on the open web, and we will have the solutions to help them reach these users.”


The last ten years will now give way to the next ten, and we’ll see how these predictions play out. Though, if the time up to now has taught us anything, the people in Acceptable Ads tend to have an eye for moving us in the right direction for the future. Thanks to everyone who has helped us along the way. We look forward to the next decade working together for a fair and sustainable internet.

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