Modernizing the Acceptable Ads Standard

Acceptable Ads has been around for a decade with a clear goal in mind: to continuously strive to improve the internet for all. In the past ten years, the criteria that lie within the Acceptable Ads Standard have evolved as a natural part of the changing online world, which never stagnates. Taking heed of audience feedback, researching developments online, searching for continued fairness and balance all require us to never rely on the status quo. And this is made possible through the independent Acceptable Ads Committee (AAC).


The AAC was formed in 2017 and was granted full ownership of any research and changes to the ad types that fall within the Acceptable Ads Standard. It was a way for eyeo to ensure that the Standard remains impartial and advocated for by the main stakeholders it affects. In order to provide room for growth and to create the best value exchange for the Standard, new formats are constantly tested and proposed for inclusion within the AAC. 

The most recent proposal and the changes it brings


This year, after intense research and a stakeholder study, the following four formats will be joining the Acceptable Ads Standard:


  • In-content – 728×90, between paragraph, static                  
  • In-content –  840×150, between paragraph, static 
  • In-content ad – 300×250, end of images (page 4 of 4), static     
  • In-content ad – 468×400, end of images (page 4 of 4), static 
Why this change?


Since the onset of Acceptable Ads, the Acceptable Ads Standard has included a “placement” criterion that prohibited ads from disrupting the natural reading flow in favor of the user. But while this conservative approach was taken to protect the user experience, there was no data available to support whether ad-blocking/filtering users mind the placement of ads in their reading flow.


Therefore, the AAC performed a study to collect data on whether users welcome or reject ads placed within the primary content, just as, in a similar fashion, the AAC analyzed video ads in December 2021 — which concluded with users rejecting the idea of such ad types being considered for the Standard in order to protect user experience. The survey on in-content ads was distributed to 9,076 ad-blocking and ad-filtering users. Here are the results:


Sizes and placements that performed poorly

  • In-content advertisements larger than 840×150
  • Advertisements placed in the middle of a slideshow of an image
  • Animated advertisements

Sizes and placements that performed within the range of acceptability

  • Smaller in-content advertisements with the dimension of 840×150
  • Ads placed at the end of a gallery slideshow 

With these results, the AAC reconvened to examine the findings and proposed changes to include smaller in-content advertisements into the Acceptable Ads Standard. The proposal was published on to give users a month to provide feedback, according to the bylaws. 


Moving with the times 


The AAC’s goal is to create a transparent and inclusive process, one that enables the Acceptable Ads Standard to uphold user choice while enabling fair monetization opportunities for publishers and advertisers: the key is balance. The assessed and proposed changes within the AAC are vital in guaranteeing that the current best solution exists for the online world, and it paves the way for a deeper understanding of users’ expectations. As mentioned before, not all research initiatives result in changes to the Standard, as was seen with video ads. 


In this particular case, by testing theories and conducting studies on in-content ads, the AAC discovered that there was room for change and there is, indeed, some tolerance for certain ad formats. According to the results, around 75-80% consider static (i.e. non-animated) in-content ads acceptable for their browsing experience. This shows that the Standard is versatile –– it is an evolving entity that grows and takes into consideration the changing needs of publishers, advertisers and users. 


As we enter our eleventh year of Acceptable Ads, we are thrilled to move forward with this change as we steer towards more resilient, sustainable and fair opportunities for our stakeholders. 


More information on the study can be found on the Acceptable Ads Committee website


Photo by Unsplash

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