In-content ads are now Acceptable Ads compliant

Signing documents

After years of Blockthrough advocacy at the Acceptable Ads Committee (“AAC”) on behalf of our publishers, we are excited to share the announcement that the AAC has voted unanimously to update the Acceptable Ads Standard for the first time in several years.

Supported by an exhaustive user research study brought about in response to feedback from Blockthrough customers (which we shared with the AAC as one of its members), this new update to the Standard will unlock forms of “in-content ads” which users overwhelmingly rated as acceptable in the study.

As a result, Blockthrough is now able to serve in-content ads on adblocked inventory, unlocking another path for publishers to generate incremental revenue with Acceptable Ads. These in-content ads must still adhere to other aspects of the Standard governing ad sizes, ad density, etc.

Most importantly, this update will provide a major monetization improvement across the entire Acceptable Ads ecosystem – we estimate a macro-level increase of 15-20%. In small-scale early testing, a select number of Blockthrough customers have seen more than a 50% increase in their adblock revenue.

What is the Acceptable Ads Standard?

By the end of 2020, the Acceptable Ads Standard was the default ad experience for approximately a quarter-billion ad-blocking users globally, according to the 2021 Pagefair Adblock Report.

The report also revealed that the biggest motivation for installing adblockers was to avoid interruptive or annoying ad experiences.

Established in 2017, the AAC is an independent, non-profit organization that governs the Standard. It determines research priorities, proposes modifications to the Standard if and when the research supports a change, and votes on any change proposal that’s been put forth.

To protect users, any format that does not comfortably exceed the 70% acceptability threshold, as determined by statistically significant user research, is prohibited from being included in the Standard by the AAC’s by-laws.

You can learn more about the Acceptable Ads Standard and its history with our detailed guide for publishers.

What does this mean for publishers?

In-content ads are a significant revenue source for many publishers.

Prior to this week’s update, publishers monetizing with Acceptable Ads were unable to recover any in-content ad unit, as they were prohibited across the board by the Standard.

Now, with the new revisions, publishers can start serving in-content ads to users, so long as they adhere to all other aspects of the Standard.

Over the next month, participating adblockers and browsers will work to ensure proper implementation and enforcement by participants in the Acceptable Ads ecosystem.

Blockthrough customers who can benefit from this update to the Standard will receive an email when we begin to enable newly-compliant ad slots on their site(s) that we’d previously disabled due to non-compliance.

Blockthrough’s role with the AAC

As a non-profit governing body for the Standard, the AAC is operated by a group of volunteer board members elected to represent their “member group” on the AAC’s board. Each member group consists of individuals who belong to one of the key stakeholders in the online advertising ecosystem. The AAC’s member groups include:

  • Ad-blocking and ad-filtering users
  • Digital Rights Organizations
  • Publishers and content creators
  • Ad tech companies (like Blockthrough)
  • Advertising agencies
  • Creative agents
  • Researchers and academics

As the board member representing the Ad tech member group, Blockthrough CEO Marty Krátký-Katz was elected by its members to represent the interests of Ad tech companies participating in the Acceptable Ads ecosystem and their customers.

In his role as a board member of the AAC since 2018, Marty has relentlessly advocated on behalf of his Ad tech constituents and the publishers they service to initiate a review of rules within the Acceptable Ads Standard that severely hamper monetization.

This includes a 2020 study on video ad formats (unfortunately, none were rated acceptable by users), followed by a 2021 review of the Standard’s prohibition on in-content ads. Ads that appear between paragraphs or elements in an image gallery.

The latter entailed an exhaustive research study on the acceptability of in-content ads. It found that several in-content ad implementations were rated acceptable by around 75-80% of the users studied. This exceeded the 70% threshold within a 95% confidence interval:

Showcases the confidence interval for how disruptive each ad format is

This week, after passing through several layers of user feedback and validation, the AAC’s board voted unanimously to add some of these acceptable in-content formats to the Standard. Thus, unlocking significant new revenue for all publishers monetizing with Acceptable Ads. The in-depth details on the newly compliant formats are included in the proposal.

The new ad formats being added to the Standard are the following:

  • Article Page Setting – 728×90, between paragraph, static
  • Article Page Setting – 840×150, between paragraph, static
  • Gallery Page Setting – 300×250, end of images (page 4 of 4), static
  • Gallery Page Setting – 468×400, end of images (page 4 of 4), static

Blockthrough is proud of the role we played in making this change a reality, and applaud the AAC for a job well done. By evolving the Standard to improve its commercial viability without impacting the integrity of the user experience, the AAC is making the Web more sustainable for all stakeholders.

You can find more information about the AAC and in-content ads with their latest update.

What happens next?

Publishers who don’t have an adblock revenue recovery strategy in place lose anywhere between 10-40% of their revenue due to adblocking.

By working with an Acceptable Ads technology partner like Blockthrough, publishers can start monetizing their adblock users and recover that revenue.

Blockthrough is the market leader in adblock revenue recovery. By helping our publishers succeed with Acceptable Ads, we’ve recovered over $80M in lost ad revenue since our launch in 2018.

Interested in unlocking more revenue for your website? Sign up to learn more.

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