Mobile Acceptable Ads Standards Part Two

Two weeks ago we began discussing the Coalition for Acceptable Ads’ new standards. Although there’s nothing surprising to us in them, because we always put ourselves in the shoes of the consumer before we begin designing a format, and we always test with partners before rolling anything out, there are many marketers to are still demanding ads that we already know will anger viewers. Snapchat especially is still experimenting. It’s Discover and story partners use many of the formats the Coalition’s research found offensive.

We’ve been around long enough (and been burned hard enough) to know how much consumers hate popup ads. Our ad server began serving them in the early years of this century when marketers demanded them, and we took the brunt of consumer ire. It taught us to choose our partners and customers more carefully, and now we carefully guard our own reputation, although it sometimes means we sacrifice profits.

Pop-up ads are a type of interstitial ad that do exactly what they say — pop up and block the main content of the page. They appear after content on the page begins to load and are among the most commonly cited annoyances for visitors to a website. Pop-up ads come in many varieties – they can take up part of the screen, or the entire screen.

Included ad experiences tested: Pop-up Ad with Countdown, Pop-up Ad without Countdown

Prestitial ads are another common annoyance.

Mobile prestitial ads appear on a mobile page before content has loaded, blocking the user from continuing on to the content they have sought out. These pop-ups vary in size from full-screen to part of the screen. They may also appear as a standalone page that prevents users from getting to the main content.

Included ad experiences tested: Prestitial ad with countdown, Prestitial ad without countdown.

In fact, the larger the ad is, the more consumers dislike it. Any ad density over 30% is a no-no.

When ads on a mobile page take up more than 30% of the vertical height of the main content portion of the page, the result is a disruptive ad experience, regardless of whether these ads are text, video, or static images. This includes “sticky” ads and in-line ads. This kind of density makes it very difficult to focus on text content on a mobile device, and can lead to frustrated users.

Included ad experiences tested: 50% single-column ad density, 35% single-column ad density, 30% single-column ad density.

The last consumer annoyance: flashing animated ads.

Ads that animate and “flash” with rapidly changing background and colors are highly aggravating for consumers, and serve to create a severe distraction for them as they attempt to read the content on a given page.

Animations that do not “flash” did not fall beneath the initial Better Ads Standard.

We think these are extremely useful guidelines, and we hope marketers will adopt them, and not kill the only way we have of providing free web content, which consumers have also signaled is important to them.