Better Ads vs. Acceptable Ads: What publishers need to know

Standards

·

August 11, 2023

Better Ads vs. Acceptable Ads: What publishers need to know

Standards

·

August 11, 2023

monetized pageviews
monetized pageviews
↑30%
increase in ad revenue
700M+
monetized pageviews
Better Ads Standards compliant

As the web becomes increasingly saturated with ads, user satisfaction hinges more and more on ad experiences. Negative ad experiences, often in the form of intrusive ads, drive the installation of ad blockers that block all advertisements. A web without any ads is, of course, not economically sustainable for publishers, and the resulting decrease in content would also bode ill for users. Consequently, balancing user experience and advertising is crucial for our web ecosystem. The Better Ads Standards and the Acceptable Ads Standard have emerged in response to this challenge. However, the two initiatives have key differences in their origins and scopes.

What are the Better Ads Standards?

The Better Ads Standards were developed by the Coalition for Better Ads, a collaborative entity dedicated to improving online ad experiences. Consisting of numerous advertising and tech giants, including Google, Facebook, and the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), the Coalition conducted extensive research to identify and address ad experiences that fall below a threshold of consumer acceptability. The results were synthesized as the Better Ads Standards. By pinpointing problematic ad formats, the Better Ads Standards help decrease the proliferation of intrusive ads and the spread of ad blockers.

better-ads-standards

Dos - Desktop

  • Long, skinny ad on right-hand side
  • Static large image ad at top
  • Static inline ad

Dos - Mobile (web)

  • Small sticky top banner
  • Sticky ad on bottom
  • Small static inline ad

Don’ts - Desktop

  • Large sticky ads
  • Prestitial ads with countdown
  • Pop-up ads
  • Auto-playing video ads with sound

Don’ts - Mobile (web)

  • Large sticky ads
  • Pop-up ads
  • Flashing animated ads
  • Full-screen scrollover ads
  • Ad density higher than 30%
  • Auto-playing video ads with sound

What is the Acceptable Ads Standard?

The Acceptable Ads Standard was first developed by Eyeo, the company behind the popular ad blocker Adblock Plus. Instead of blocking all ads indiscriminately, Adblock Plus allows ads that comply with the Acceptable Ads Standard. Like the Better Ads Standards, the Acceptable Ads Standard balances users’ desire for an ad-free experience and content creators’ need for ad revenue. However, select advertisers and publishers must pay a fee for their white-listed ads to be displayed to Adblock Plus users. With this business model, AdBlock Plus remains free for users while Eyeo reaps profits.

acceptable-ads-standards

Don’ts

  • Expanding ads
  • Pop-under ads
  • Animated ads
  • Auto-playing video ads with sound
  • Overlay in-video ads
  • Pre-roll video ads
  • Pop-up ads
  • Generally oversized image ads

Better Ads vs. Acceptable Ads

Better Ads Standards Acceptable Ads Standards
Pop-up ads
X X
Large sticky ads X X
Auto-playing video ads with sound X X
Pre-roll video ads Partially Allowed X
Expanding ads O X
Overlay in-video ads X X

The table above and bullet points below highlight key formatting differences between the Better Ads and Acceptable Ads.

  • Pop-up ads, large sticky ads, auto-playing video ads with sound, and overlay in-video ads are not allowed by both the Better Ads Standards and Acceptable Ads Standard
  • Pre-roll video ads are allowed under certain conditions by the Better Ads Standards and are not allowed by the Acceptable Ads Standard
  • Expanding ads are allowed by the Better Ads Standards and are not allowed by the Acceptable Ads Standard

Though both standards emphasize user experience, the Acceptable Ads Standard is generally more rigorous in their guidelines for allowed ad formats. For example, while the Better Ads Standards allows popular formats like pre-roll video ads and expanding ads, neither is allowed by the Acceptable Ads Standard. Yet it’s difficult to deem one standard as “better” than the other, considering the differing primary motives behind each. As previously mentioned, the Better Ads Standards are maintained by a coalition of major companies in the advertising industry, uniting to prevent the proliferation of ad blockers. The Acceptable Ads Standard, meanwhile, is led by Eyeo, a single major ad blocker aiming to profit from advertisers and publishers. Keeping in mind Eyeo’s role as both gatekeeper and beneficiary, skeptics question the Acceptable Ads Standard’s objectivity.

As the internet continues to evolve, striking a balance between advertising revenue and user experience remains crucial for a thriving and sustainable web ecosystem. For publishers and advertisers, this means successfully avoiding ad blockers and displaying non-intrusive, “good” advertisements. It’s possible for publishers to recover 15~25% of lost adblocker revenue by paying Eyeo’s licensing fee. However, such a low recovery rate is insufficient and unsustainable in the long run.

For the most cost-effective, impactful solution, Ad-Shield’s next-generation ad block recovery technology recovers 90% of all ads. By working with Ad-Shield, publishers can recover ads from not only Adblock Plus, but every major ad blocker on the market. Our solution is designed to ensure compliance with the Better Ads Standards, allowing publishers to monetize ad-block users while respecting their advertising experience. (And, for the 1-5% of ad-block users looking for an entirely ad-free experience, our solution can provide opt-out processes.)

Joon Yu
Founder & CEO
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