Better Ads for Desktop and Mobile

Ever since its creation in 2016, the Coalition for Better Ads has sought to make the internet a more amiable place. At its inception, it consisted of about 17 companies, but has since grown to include 26 member companies and several dozen affiliates. Companies involved with the Coalition for Better Ads include Google and Facebook, raising the profile of their efforts and promising a bright future for websites and web surfers alike.

So what exactly does this coalition do? Put simply, it sets the standard for acceptable ads. These organizations have come together to assess the needs of advertisers, websites, and users, and have come up with an equitable arrangement. They urge ad developers to adhere to the standards they have set.


What They Found

The Coalition for Better Ads does not set their standards lightly. For their Initial Better Ad Standards they conducted a multi-phase research project involving more than 25,000 consumers. They surveyed these consumers, enquiring about visitor ad preferences for both desktop and mobile browsing. They also experimented with different types of ads for desktop and mobile devices to get a sense for which ad types would provide users with the best experience, and which ad types were the least tolerated.

Bad Ads

The results of the research inform the Initial Better Ad Standards, complete with guidelines and better ads examples. In short, they’ve determined what is likely to drive a user to download and install an adblocker, and recommend that ad developers avoid those tactics. These “bad ads” may be considered intrusive advertising, and include the following for desktop and mobile:


Pop-up ads: These ads obscure the user’s view of the webpage content (often after they have already begun to read).

Auto-playing video (with sound): These ads can be bracing as they may suddenly play loudly from a user’s phone or computer, and may also interfere with web speeds.

Prestitial ads (with countdown): These ads are displayed before a user can even access a site, forcing them to wait or leave.

Large sticky ads: These ads remain in a user’s field of vision as he or she scrolls through a web page.

The following unacceptable ads are specific to mobile users:

Postitial ads (with countdown): The opposite of prestitial ads, these ads display on Android devices after a user has decided to leave a page.​

Scrollover ads (full-screen): These ads force users to scroll through an entire ad placed somewhere at the top of a mobile web page before they can view the content.

Flashing animated ads: These highly visual ads are aggressive and distracting to users.

Ad density over 30%: Your ads could meet all other acceptable standards, but if they are too big or there are too many of them, your users may become averse. This is particularly true of mobile users -- it’s hard enough to read a mobile web page without having to contend with ads.

Good Ads

Of course, there is another side to this coin. The coalition learned not only about those ads that users would most like to avoid, but also about those formats they found as being good ads. The following were deemed better for both mobile and desktop browsing:

Skinny ads on the right-hand side

25% ad density with multiple columns

Ads that refreshed at 30 second intervals

The main takeaway here for publishers is that they should consider the user experience when deciding how to serve ads. Even current adblock users are willing to see ads if they help support the content on a website, and are nonintrusive to the reading experience.

What Publishers Can Learn from This

Most internet users understand the role that ads play in keeping their favorite web content free to access. In fact, many adblocking programs have functions to allow users to whitelist web sites, allowing the ads through for sites that they want to support. Admiral has even created a patent-pending one-click whitelist offer, making it easy for visitors to accept and opening up the full ad stack for publishers to serve.

Users want ads that won’t interfere with their enjoyment of your website. This means ads that don’t obscure or delay their ability to read content, and ads that don’t distract them from what you have to offer. Publishers should regularly test and improve the user ad experience.

The Coalition for Better Ads offers a new way to approach internet advertisements, one which promises to drive fewer users away by balancing user experience and acceptable advertising. Publishers can use their research and the standards they set to develop an improved user experience.

The ball is in your court. Learn more about better ads, and start creating a new more welcoming internet. To consider the impact of Better Ads in the greater revenue and ad blocking environment, see our comprehensive guide for adblock revenue recovery.

This article is the first of a three-part series.

For more information on how you can size and solve your adblock problem, implement a paywall and grow subscriptions, grow email or social lists, or manage privacy consent, request a demo of Admiral Visitor Relationship Management platform today.
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