Allowing acceptable ads in Adblock Plus

What is this about?

Adblock Plus is a tool that lets users block ads. Since ads fuel a lot of the content we enjoy for free online, finding common ground seemed to make sense. We asked our users about this and they overwhelmingly agreed.

So starting in 2011, in consultation with our users, we decided to propose a compromise. Because we share a vision with the majority of our users that not all ads are equally annoying, the Acceptable Ads initiative was created. It allows advertisers and publishers who have agreed to make ads that abide by user-generated criteria to be whitelisted. Users can support this less extreme version of ad blocking by allowing the Acceptable Ads option to remain enabled. To browse completely ad-free, users can disable the option.

This is beneficial in two ways:

We believe that this initiative is a sustainable middle ground between the user's choice to use ad blockers and the continued need to support free online content with advertisements. In general, an Acceptable Ad is a non-animated ad, clearly labeled as such, that does not interrupt reading flow. It is important to note that these criteria try to reflect the ongoing discussions between our users, publishers, advertisers and us. They will evolve as the web changes and as we receive more feedback. We explicitly invite everyone to join the dialog on our forum or contact us at acceptableads@adblockplus.org. Furthermore, in the very near future we intend to hand over complete control of these criteria to an independent committee.

To ensure transparency and fairness, the following rules have and will always apply to everyone without exceptions:

We are able to keep our open source product free by charging large entities a fee for whitelisting services. For the other 90% of our partners, these services are offered free of charge.

Do you think this is a good idea? Show your support by signing our Acceptable Ads Manifesto.

What is an Acceptable Ad?

Ads that shall be treated as Acceptable Ads have to comply with the following criteria:

General criteria

Placement

Ads must not disrupt the user's natural reading flow. Such ads must be placed on top, side or below the Primary Content 1 .

Acceptable ads criteria placement

Distinction

Ads should always be recognizable as ads, and distinguishable from all other content (e.g. are not hiding the label, are not misleading users into thinking an ad is part of the primary content). Ads should be clearly marked with the word "advertisement" or its equivalent.

Acceptable ads criteria label

Size

Individual ad-size requirements depend on the placement of the ad:

Ads must always leave sufficient space for the Primary Content on the common screen size of 1366x768 2 for desktop, 360x640 3 for mobile devices and 768x1024 4 for tablets.

All ads that are placed above the fold (the portion of the web page visible in the browser window when the page first loads under the common screen size), must not occupy in total more than 15 percent of the visible portion of the web page. If placed below the fold, ads must not occupy in total more than 25 percent of the visible portion of the webpage.

Acceptable ads criteria percentage

Specific criteria

Text ads

Text ads designed with excessive use of colors and/or other elements to grab attention are not permitted.

Image ads

Static image ads may qualify as acceptable, according to an evaluation of their unobtrusiveness based on their integration on the webpage.

In-feed ads

For ads in lists and feeds, the general criteria differ depending on:

Search ads

For search ads - ads displayed following a user-initiated search query - the criteria differ depending on:

Ads on pages with no primary content

Only text ads are allowed. For webpages without any primary content (e.g. error or parking pages), the criteria differ depending on:

Other Acceptable Ads formats?

Are your ads displayed on alternative screens, or are you convinced that you have an innovative Acceptable Ads format which doesn't fit the ads outlined above? Let us know!

1 The 'Primary Content' is defined as (based on Mozilla's description of the <main> HTML element): The Primary Content consists of content that is directly related to, or expands upon the central topic of a document or the central functionality of an application. This content should be unique to the document, excluding any content that is repeated across a set of documents such as sidebars, navigation links, copyright information, site logos, and search forms (unless, of course, the document's main function is a search form).

2 The 'common screen size' for desktop is 1366x768, based on data from StatCounter.

3 The 'common screen size' for mobile is 360x640, based on data from StatCounter.

4 The 'common screen size' for tablets is 768x1024, based on data from StatCounter.

What is not considered an Acceptable Ad?

The following types of ads are currently unacceptable *, and cannot be considered for inclusion on the whitelist:

* Except when the user intentionally interacts with the ad (e.g. clicks on the ad to see a video ad playing).

Why is this feature enabled by default?

Unfortunately, this is the only way to accomplish the goals described above. If the majority of Adblock Plus users have this function activated, advertisers will have the incentive to produce better ads.

But I hate all ads!

No problem, you can disable this feature at any time:

Chrome, Maxthon, Opera, Safari - Click the Adblock Plus icon and select Options. Uncheck Allow some nonintrusive advertising.

Firefox - Click the Adblock Plus icon and select Filter preferences. Uncheck Allow some nonintrusive advertising.

Internet Explorer - Click the Adblock Plus icon and select Settings. Uncheck Allow some nonintrusive advertising.

Adblock Browser for Android - Open Settings, tap Ad blocking > Configure Acceptable Ads and uncheck Allow some nonintrusive advertising.

Adblock Browser for iOS - Open Settings, tap Adblock Plus > Acceptable Ads and uncheck Allow some nonintrusive ads.

Adblock Plus for iOS - Open Adblock Plus for iOS from the Home screen, tap the Settings icon > Acceptable Ads and uncheck Allow some nonintrusive ads.

Will all "acceptable" ads be unblocked?

No. Unfortunately, it isn't technically possible to recognize ads that meet our Acceptable Ads criteria automatically. We have agreements with some websites and advertisers which stipulate that only advertising matching our criteria will be displayed when Adblock Plus users visit these particular sites. These ads will be unblocked (i.e. added to the Acceptable Ads exception list which is enabled per default). No applicant will be favored or treated differently, and no one can buy their way onto the whitelist. Everyone must comply with the criteria and everyone goes through the same process before the ads qualify as "acceptable".

What if an ad is allowed, but doesn't meet the requirements?

Please report it. If an advertiser abuses its placement on the exception list, we can always remove it from the list.

How can I see what you are allowing?

The Allow nonintrusive advertising checkbox simply adds one more filter subscription to your list. You can view the filters here. Also, the special treatment of this filter subscription - which was added for reasons of usability - can be disabled by going to "about:config" and changing the extensions.adblockplus.subscriptions_exceptionscheckbox preference to false. This will allow you to view the filters for this subscription as usual.

Do you have questions or suggestions concerning this list? Feel free to get in touch with the community in our forum or contact us directly via email.

How can I get my website whitelisted?

The process of getting your ads whitelisted takes about 10 working days once the ads adhere to the Acceptable Ads criteria:

  1. If your website has ads that comply with the Acceptable Ads criteria, simply fill out this form.
  2. Someone from Eyeo, the company behind Adblock Plus, will contact you to determine the exact ads, and check whether they comply with our criteria.
  3. After you have made any necessary changes, both sides sign an agreement.
  4. We submit the whitelisting proposal in the forum and the ads are whitelisted at the same time. The topic will stay open in order for the community to declare concerns if or when the candidate does not meet the requirements.

Do Adblock Plus users really want this feature?

The results of our user survey say yes. According to the survey, only 25 percent of Adblock Plus users are strictly against all advertising. They can disable the feature and browse completely ad-free. The other 75 percent replied that they would accept some advertising to help support websites.