There is a new blog post on the Stack Exchange company blog announcing SE's advertising principles. But reading that there are very few principles actually mentioned in the post, it directs that part to the Interactive Advertising Bureau's guidelines:
So for all our advertising offerings, we are following the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB)’s guidelines as a starting point.
I looked through the actual IAB guidelines (PDF), and they seem to be a rather constrained effort to disallow the worst of the worst ad behaviours. But they still allow a lot of annoying behaviour, and are entirely silent on some important aspects. These guidelines are a far cry from the original SE advertising principles.
The IAB guidelines allow the following things
- animated ads (up to 15 seconds, but flashing, high-contrast animations are not recommended)
- interstitial ads (but at least a timer before allowing the user to close is disallowed)
- video ads
- autoplay audio ads under some circumstances (if the user has audio turned on and the ad has 100% screen coverage)
- ads are allowed only up to 30% CPU usage
- ads are only allowed 10 HTTP requests on initial load (more requests are allowed after the initial load)
The guidelines do disallow some terrible stuff like popup ads or auto-expanding hover ads. But they still allow a lot of rather annoying stuff, and are entirely silent on important topics like the actual topics of ads and privacy issues like tracking and fingerprinting.
The title of the blog post is "Our Advertising Principles", but the only principles I can actually parse from it are that SE will try to be a bit better than what's in that document. This is really not telling us much, especially as the IAB guidelines allow some ads that are arguably worse than what is currently running on SE sites.
What are the actual advertising principles of SE? Which types of ads are allowed, how much animation is allowed, are ads allowed to track and fingerprint users, how closely must ads relate to the topic of the site, which topics and types of ads are not allowed at all (e.g. pseudo-science, dubious health ads, gambling, scams, ...)?