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How LEAN-ing On IAB Guidelines Can Make Your Site Stand Tall

This week the IAB released new research confirming that the application of its LEAN principles helps publishers monetize their content without turning off consumers and driving ad blocking.

As Unruly officially launches our UnrulyX Lab for publishers – an immersive deep dive into industry trends and challenges, including how to practically apply the LEAN guidelines – now feels like a good time to remember the importance of using these principles and understand what makes them successful.

When the IAB launched the LEAN principles back in October 2015, the message was loud and clear for publishers: The rise of ad blocking poses a threat to the internet and could potentially drive users to an enclosed platform world dominated by a few companies.”

And with good reason. GlobalWebIndex found this year that 37% of global internet users admit they use ad blockers – a whopping fact that shows users are getting serious about taking back control of their ad experiences outside of enclosed platforms.

So it’s no surprise the IAB released the LEAN principles to help publishers combat this rise in ad blocking by improving their sites’ UX and giving control back to users. Along with many other industry-wide challenges and practices, Unruly explores the application of these principles further in our UnrulyX Lab for publishers.

Top level, following these principles is easy:



The IAB suggests that size and ad load time are two ways to make the ad experience a lighter one. Light on the eyes, light on the data. This discounts full screen pop-up ads, crazy overbearing homepage takeovers, and cumbersome rich ad formats that load slowly and before other content on the page. It encourages fast, light ad formats that load asynchronously.


This one can be ticked off easily – use ad formats that support https.


The ubiquitous AdChoices icon is there for a reason. It’s the least publishers can do to put users in control. Don’t accept any ad formats that don’t do this.


Publishers can have the best of both worlds – attention-grabbing, advertiser-seducing ad placements that are also non-intrusive, such as in-article video. Ad formats which load politely by not messing with a page’s contents and are completely skippable are just some of the ways they can be non-intrusive.


Unruly’s video formats do all of the above and more to monetize publishers’ websites in a way that doesn’t harm the user experience. It’s something very close to our hearts, and we’re committed to continuing to improve users’ ad experiences, as it’ll lead to improved revenues and brand favorability for publishers.

And it’s working. The IAB announced in their Ad Blocking Town Hall that two-thirds of consumers who use ad blockers can be persuaded to uninstall/turn off blockers using LEAN initiatives.

Ad blocking continues to grow, but it is at least slowing down. According to Emarketer, ad blocking will grow by 24% by 2017, compared with 34.4% between 2015 and 2016. That might seem like a non-win for publishers, but if ad blocking hits its natural peak, and publishers continue to advertise in the respectful, LEAN way, then we should all be able to work together and bring it back down again. That way, everyone wins.