The Acceptable Ads Standard ensures that ads are not intrusive to the users’ web experience. Acceptable Ads are ads compliant with the Acceptable Ads Standard, which is defined by the independent Acceptable Ads Committee (AAC). Changes to the Standard must be supported by research on user’s perceptions of new or existing types of ads.
The AAC researched the sentiment of ad-blocking users towards websites featuring an ad refresh implementation. Ad refresh refers to a web page changing (or ‘refreshing’) ad content within an already-served ad unit without the page itself necessarily reloading. Find the extensive result of that research in this report.
Based on the data, the AAC proposes that the Standard be amended to allow for ad refreshing in certain circumstances. The actual proposal is set out below.
If you are an Acceptable Ads user, please read the following sections carefully and provide your feedback on the proposed changes below or reach out to the president of the AAC Terry Taouss at email@example.com.
The AAC will accept feedback for a period of one month, ending on January 19, 2023, after which it will render a final decision on the proposal.
Impact on Stakeholders
The AAC’s primary goal is to create an ad standard that protects the user experience while delivering real value to publishers and content creators. The AAC is also structured to reflect the diverse needs of industry stakeholders, including advertisers. Let’s take a look at how in-view ad refresh impacts each of these groups.
The appeal of in-view ad refresh to publishers and content providers is that it increases the number of ad impressions on a page and correspondingly increases the amount of inventory (advertising space) publishers have available to sell.
The value for advertisers is not as clear as it is for publishers as advertisers are not always aware of which impressions they buy (e.g., the first, second or other). However, certain ad refresh implementations such as employing longer time intervals or imposing minimum viewability thresholds can be appealing to advertisers.
Impact on users
The impact of ad refresh on Acceptable Ads users was investigated in the study above. Results showed that Acceptable Ads users are open to seeing certain ad-refreshing formats under specific circumstances, such as ad refresh triggers of not lower than 30 (or some cases 60 seconds), or no additional advertisement next to the ad-refreshing unit on longer dwelling pages.
Taking all affected parties into account, publishers would highly benefit from some ad-refreshing formats, while advertisers seem to have a somewhat neutral position. Acceptable Ads users find certain ad-refresh formats acceptable, which led the committee to propose the following changes to the Acceptable Ads Standard:
Proposed changes to the Acceptable Ads Standard
Distinction and Size
The main criteria, distinction and size, will remain the same.
An added section about in-view ad-refresh will change the specific criteria.
- Numbers 1-6 of the specific criteria stay untouched, a new number 7 will be added, and the current #7 and #8 will be renumbered.
07 In-view ad refresh
Refreshing ads are ads that replace the content of the existing ad unit with new ad content. Ad refreshes are permitted on desktop browsers, provided that:
- only a single ad unit on the page is refreshed;
- the refreshed ad is the same size as the ad that it replaced; and,
- the refreshing ad unit is located in the side rail (i.e. beside the Primary Content).
In addition, only the following ad formats can be refreshed, at the stated frequency:
On a scrollable single-page (e.g. article): a 300×250 or 160×600 static banner ad or smaller , with a refresh rate  of 30 seconds or longer.
On a non-scrollable single-page  (e.g. game): a 300×250 or 160×600 static banner ad or smaller, with a refresh rate of 60 seconds, only if there are no other ads on the page.
Footnotes (relating to ad refresh)
- Smaller ad unit sizes are permitted, provided that neither the height or width stated in each case is exceeded.
- The “refresh rate” is the time period that elapses before content in an ad unit is replaced with new content.
- A non-scrollable single-page includes a page that allows for a nominal amount of scrolling where such scrolling does not substantively display new primary content and/or the user is not reasonably expected to scroll on the page.
Combination with user action and/or event-based trigger
User action and (or) event ad-refresh triggers are allowed only when combined with the acceptable time thresholds mentioned above.
Note: The Acceptable Ads Committee retains the right to revise the Standard with respect to ad refreshing for a period of 6 months, in order to account for matters that may arise when the revision is put into practice.
What is not considered an acceptable ad?
In the section “What is not considered an acceptable ad?” the sentence “Ads that visibly load new ads if the Primary Content does not change” will be removed.