Acceptable Ads’ evolution from feature to ecosystem

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Acceptable Ads’ evolution from feature to ecosystem

Acceptable Ads, Aly Thompson, 19. November 2019

Acceptable Ads was launched back in 2011 as a brand new feature in Adblock Plus in order to find a sustainable middle ground between ad-blocking users who had opted out of traditional ad experiences, and publishers who looked to monetize the lost ad-blocking audience. 

Fast forward to 2019, and Acceptable Ads has become the default advertising standard for approximately 200 million ad-blocking users who are using one of the multiple ad blockers and browsers that support Acceptable Ads. Over the last few years, there has been much innovation around and within Acceptable Ads; more than a set of rules, it has become an ecosystem.

When we talk about the Acceptable Ads ecosystem, we refer to all the contributors and standards and economies that have grown up around the original concept of Acceptable Ads. This ecosystem puts into action the ultimate vision of a fair and profitable web where ad-blocking users only see respectful and non-intrusive advertisements, and publishers can monetize their content and audiences.  

The Acceptable Ads ecosystem is self-contained, sustainable and open. Its major underpinning is the non-intrusive Acceptable Ads standard, which is designed for users who have opted-out of traditional forms of advertising. This standard respects user experience by not bombarding them with annoying advertising formats, while still providing significant value to all stakeholders in this ecosystem: publishers, brands, agencies, ad-tech vendors and end-users. 

The Acceptable Ads ecosystem explained

What started off as a feature to facilitate a sustainable value exchange between publishers and a few million people using ad blockers, has become a powerful ecosystem. The evolution of Acceptable Ads has enabled more ad blockers and browsers to participate and provide an attractive feature to their users while enabling publishers to monetize this audience. Innovative-solution providers joined with a myriad of services and products to enable that value exchange. Here are the stakeholders within the ecosystem, at a glance.


First and foremost, the users within this ecosystem are inherently different to ‘mainstream’ users without an ad blocker. Ad blocker users are globally dispersed, on mobile and on desktop. According to Deloitte, they tend to be younger (millennials), educated, tech savvy, employed with a higher than average salary and comfortable buying virtually everything online. These users do not respond to annoying ad formats and have opted out of that experience by installing an ad blocker. So how do you find ads that these users accept? 

Authorities & Standards

The Acceptable Ads Committee governs the Acceptable Ads standard, which curates non-intrusive ad formats that can be allowed for ad-blocker users. Finding this standard is based on testing ad experiences among users who use an adblocker. The Acceptable Ads standard’s primary goal is to find ad formats that match and exceed the high expectations of these users. 

This committee consists of roughly 40 different companies, organizations and individuals. It is inherently different to other ad-tech industry committees and organizations, because the ad-blocker user’s voice and perspective are intrinsic to the mandate and decision-making. For instance, the entire multi-billion-dollar online advertising supply chain has exactly the same amount of votes as a group consisting of non-profits and digital rights NGOs and ‘the representative party’ for actual ad-blocker users. These groups have to work together to identify advertising formats that function for all parties, typifying exactly what Acceptable Ads has always been about: a delicate balancing act between user experience and publisher monetization opportunities.


Stakeholders who are looking for the right inventory to tailor their creatives to: there lies a huge opportunity to drive creative, non-intrusive advertising campaigns for the 200 million ad-blocking users. As was already established, ad-blocking users constitute a truly unique advertising audience. It is a meaningful opportunity to serve advertising in an advertising-scarce ecosystem to users that spend more money online. Acceptable Ads supports multiple vendors and ad-tech solutions for brands, agencies and DSP’s to launch creative campaigns aimed at this lucrative audience.


For online publishers and other stakeholders who want to sell their inventory, there are multiple solutions to monetize the growing audience of Acceptable-Ads-supported ad blockers.

Publishers can choose different vendors and implementations of Acceptable Ads that are best suited and tailored to their needs. All solutions are easy to implement, and will rapidly optimize the publisher’s audience monetization.  


Finally, for ad-tech solution providers there is a wide variety of opportunities available to tap into the Acceptable Ads ecosystem. As of 2019, there are dozens of renowned online advertising industry players, demand- and supply-partners, plugged into the ecosystem. Plugging in and connecting the buy and sell sides of advertising has become a rich area for innovation, resulting in a number of new companies that have sprung up to provide value in this space.

A fair value exchange

The meteoric rise of ad-blocker installation has caused the web to be more fragmented. When it comes to online advertising revenues, users who are using an ad blocker are not lost; they are different and have a lower tolerance threshold for annoying ad formats than other users. This requires all stakeholders in the digital advertising supply chain to recognize this trend and adapt to this new reality. 

Acceptable Ads opens a path for a large variety of potential and existing players in online advertising to participate with ad-filtering users in a fair, sustainable, and profitable value exchange. 

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