Rubicon Project Ad Quality Guidelines

Updated: May 03, 2016


Participants on the Rubicon Project platform–i.e., the buyers and sellers that transact over our platform, as well as the publishers, advertisers, and advertising agencies that ultimately sell inventory or place ads using our platform–all share a joint interest in ensuring the quality of ads served. These Ad Quality Guidelines (“Guidelines”) describe ad quality standards, in order provide guidance on the appropriateness of the content and behavior of ads delivered through our platform. Please review these Guidelines carefully.   Rubicon Project may, at its discretion, update these Guidelines at any time–it is your responsibility to ensure that you adhere to these Guidelines, including any updates hereto. If you have any questions about these Guidelines, please contact your Rubicon Project account manager.


These Guidelines are not an exhaustive list of prohibitions, but rather represent platform principles–Rubicon Project reserves the right to reject, suspend, or remove from its platform any ad in its sole discretion, regardless of whether a basis for removal is listed here. These Guidelines do not limit Rubicon Project’s discretion in any way.

Ads that do not meet the standards set forth in these Guidelines may be subject, at Rubicon Project’s discretion, to platform-wide blocks (and may also be prohibited from purchasing ad inventory on the Rubicon Project platform through other channels as well). Buyers that repeatedly violate these Guidelines may have their platform access restricted. Buyers that purchase or place ads on behalf of their own affiliates or customers must ensure that the ads they purchase or place comply with these Guidelines.

Rubicon Project cannot and does not review every ad placed through our Platform, and it is ultimately the responsibility of each buyer (including the end advertisers or agencies that purchase through any individual buyer) to ensure compliance with these Guidelines.

Legal & Regulatory Compliance

  • Ads must comply with all applicable laws, rules, or regulations in any relevant jurisdiction. This includes laws, rules, and regulations that relate to the placement of ads through online behavioral advertising, and to the delivery of ads to children.
  • Advertisers must provide consumers with comprehensible notice of their privacy practices, including, where appropriate, enhanced notice of behavioral targeting through mechanisms such as the Digital Advertising Alliance’s “AdChoices” icon. Advertisers that engage in behavioral advertising must also provide consumers with the ability to opt-out of such targeted advertising.
  • Ads must not include or contain any content that infringes the intellectual property rights of any third party (including rights conferred or otherwise protected by patents, copyrights, trademarks, or trade secrets).
  • All ads placed through the Rubicon Project platform must comply with the Ad Standards and Creative Guidelines set out by the Internet Advertising Bureau at

Ad Behavior Standards

  • Ads may not force a full-page redirect that takes users away from the seller’s content without user initiation (i.e., the ad may not attempt to navigate the browser to any other page, unless the user explicitly clicks or taps the ad.) This restriction includes app-store redirects on mobile devices.
  • In-banner video is permitted only if a buyer runs a single, non-repeating in-banner video. Running multiple in-banner videos within a single banner impression is not permitted.
  • In-banner video ads may not substantially slow the loading of a site or the performance of the end user’s system or crash the browser.
  • Ads may not auto-refresh. Purchasing one impression through the Rubicon Project platform means you may serve one ad creative.
  • Except for ad units specifically designated to be pop-ups, ads may not pop up windows, JavaScript dialogs, or other features that obscure surrounding content.
  • Pop-unders are not permitted.
  • Except for ad units specifically designated as expandable (such as certain IAB rising stars units and in-app mobile interstitials), ads may not grow beyond the dimensions of their designated ad slots.
  • Ads may not contain viruses, spyware, or malware, or attempt to download executable files without user initiation.
  • Ads may not falsify any user interaction, such as faking clicks.
  • Ads may not send an SMS message, or initiate a charge, without explicitly notifying a user and requiring a tap or other intentional action. Click-to-call or click-to-SMS ads must clearly indicate that clicking the ad will initiate the call or SMS message. Conventions such as a phone number that looks like a hyperlink are acceptable notification.

Ad & Landing Page Content

Ads and ad landing pages must not include or contain:

  • Adult content, including full nudity, or depictions or descriptions of sexual acts, in the ad creative or on the landing page. (Ads for certain adult-oriented categories may be permitted on the platform so long as advertisers are correctly declared and the ad creatives and landing pages are not overtly pornographic. These categories include dating sites, lingerie, strip clubs, and adult products.)
  • Malware of any sort, including drive-by downloads.
  • Any claim that a third-party plug-in such as a Flash or Java player is outdated in order to entice users to download software.
  • Graphic or excessive violence.
  • Profanity in any language.
  • Material promoting illegal drugs or controlled substances. This restriction includes ads for medical or recreational marijuana even in jurisdictions where they may be legal under state law.
  • Content that promotes or encourages harassment, bullying, threats, or similar content that advocates against any group, organization, or individual.
  • Discriminatory content, including content that promotes discrimination by race, ethnicity, nationality, religion, disability, gender, age, or sexual orientation.
  • Deceptive or fraudulent content, and must not encourage criminal or any otherwise illegal behavior.
  • Landing pages may not attempt to auto-download software without user consent.
  • Landing pages must allow user to leave the page with normal browser navigation and without spawning a confirmation dialog.

Bid Response Requirements

  • When bidding on inventory, all advertisers appearing in an individual ad must be declared in the bid response, preferably by passing a URL designating the advertiser’s site or landing page of the campaign. Bid responses may not list an “advertiser” that is actually an ad network or other entity that is serving arbitrary creatives, without declaring the individual advertisers actually appearing in ads that are served.
  • When bidding on inventory, bid responses must include creative IDs, and all other mandatory fields.
  • All ads served with the same creative ID must be for the same advertiser(s). Buyers may not use a single creative ID for multiple materially distinct ads from a single ad network or similar entity–the creative ID must be representative of the advertiser that appears in the actual creative. Notwithstanding the above, A/B testing of different creative treatments for the same advertiser within the same creative ID is allowed. Further, “dynamic creative optimization” and testing of slightly different retargeting offers for the same advertiser is similarly allowed.
  • Buyers must comply with restrictions on creative content and formats that are described in bid requests, such as Open RTB’s imp.battr.battr.
  • Buyers must declare all advertisers in ads that include more that one brand or advertiser.

Children’s Sites

Sellers may designate some of their media as directed to or otherwise frequented by minors in one of two regulatory fields transmitted in our bid requests: coppa and regs.ext.s22580. Please note that the regs.coppa field is set by the publisher to note that an impression falls within the scope of the U.S. Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. Similarly, the regs.ext.s22580 field is set by the publisher to note that an impression falls within the scope of California Business and Professions Code Section 22580. You are responsible for ensuring that you comply with these laws, to the extent applicable.

Linear Video Ads

  • Video ads must not loop or repeat, unless triggered by affirmative action by the end user.
  • Bid responses for linear video, including companion units, must respect all limitations and flags communicated in the bid request. This includes limitations both in fields required by the Open RTB specification, such as minduration and maxduration, and those communicated in fields optional in that specification, such as battr.
  • Bid responses for linear video and companion units must properly declare advertiser URLs (adomain) and creative IDs.