The AAC Coalitions: an explainer

In our last post, we took a deep dive into the makeup of the Acceptable Ads Committee (AAC): the pressing need for diversity and inclusion, the wide array of voices that needed amplification when it came to something as vital as shaping the Acceptable Ads criteria and how elected Representatives and Member Groups worked together to fulfill the mission and messaging of the AAC.


Today’s peek behind the scenes of Acceptable Ads also looks at the AAC, but we’re taking a bigger-picture view. We’re looking at the coalitions that exist within the AAC, how they’re formed and why they matter.


What are the coalitions?

The AAC is divided into three coalitions: the User Advocate Coalition, the Expert Coalition and the For-Profit Coalition. These are designed to give full representation to every angle of the ecosystem, from the users to the advertisers to the publishers to the scholars that take a step back and examine the larger questions.


The names are intentionally straightforward:

  • The For-Profit Coalition is comprised of business stakeholders, including advertisers, advertising agencies, adtech providers and publishers or content creators.
  • The User Advocate Coalition consists of stakeholders who are defenders of user choice. This includes digital rights organizations and ad-blocking users.
  • Lastly, the Expert Coalition is full of specialists in the field of online advertising and ad blocking. These are user agents, creative agents, researchers and academics.
Why coalitions, anyway?

The User Advocate Coalition, defined by the AAC Bylaws as “classified as entities primarily driven by protecting the rights of online users”, and the For-Profit Coalition, defined by the AAC Bylaws as “ classified as organizations primarily driven by generating profits”,  each have four Representatives. 


The coalition model ensures that what are often referred to as the ‘two sides of the value exchange’—or user advocates and for-profit businesses—are awarded equal weight and fair and balanced representation.


The Expert Coalition has three Representatives due to the neutral nature of the coalition—the Expert Coalition is specifically defined as being “comprised of ‘experts’ who can bring a unique and objective (our emphasis) perspective to the AAC.”


What do we mean when we say “coalition”?

The coalitions are, by nature, divergent. That means that they’re formed in slightly different ways, and have slightly different eligibility requirements.


Here are some of them:

  • To be admitted to the For-Profit Coalition, a company needs to have (at minimum) a “small” business status. That means they need at least ten employees and have to hit a certain turnover threshold.
  • If a group wants to join the User Advocate Coalition, it’s vital that they “demonstrate a proven and credible track record in protecting the interests of the internet user in an online environment, such as: initiated court cases, organization of petitions, lobbying efforts, or development of user-empowering tools or standards.” (Source)

Additionally, individuals who wish to join need to use ad-blocking software and have an interest in the topic of monetization on the web.


  • And, as the name suggests, it’s important to be an expert if you want to join the Expert Coalition. That means exhibiting your knowledge and expertise with a proven track record.

If you’re interested in learning more about the AA Coalitions, the recent AA Bylaws outline all the details. Feel free to check them out!

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