Web3, Sustainability, and Pastéis de Nata: AAX goes to WebSummit 2022

The first four days of November 2022 saw the city of Lisbon filled with faces from all over the world and all corners of tech. WebSummit, the event that The Guardian dubbed “Glastonbury for geeks,” was in full swing.

WebSummit, which features more than a thousand speakers and attracts over 70,000 attendees, is one of the best places to get a sense of the conversations and issues that are being discussed—and shaping—the tech world. The grand purpose of WebSummit, as its website attests, is to answer one singular question: Where to next?

Otilia Otlacan, AAX VP of Business Operations, flew to Lisbon to, as she puts it, “take the pulse.” This autumn, WebSummit talks and panels were shedding light on a new world, one that’s buffeted by fresh issues and challenges and contemplating the ways in which tech can help build a better future.

We sat down with Otilia to get her impressions of the kinds of topics that defined 2022’s WebSummit, how the conference has changed over the last year, which talks were important and inspiring and—of course—where to get the best pastel de nata in Portugal’s capital city.

AAX: Welcome back to gray Berlin! First things first: what would you say was AAX’s overall mission at the conference this year?

Otilia Otlacan: Honestly, our purpose there was to watch and learn. We were interested in absorbing as much information about the current climate—what are people thinking about? what conversations are being had? what developments and trends are being discussed?—as we could.

While AAX is a B2B business, the backbone of everything we do is the Acceptable Ads user. We need to understand who this user is, what they want, what they engage in. And that means getting a general sense of the pertinent issues; taking the pulse.

And, of course, we were there to support the Web Summit Women in Tech Networking Evening, hosted by our friends at eyeo.

AAX: Tell us a little more—what was the Web Summit Women in Tech Networking Evening all about?

OO: It was essentially an evening of networking, sharing stories, and good food and drinks, organized by Jutta Horstmann, COO and Managing Director of eyeo and Gertrud Kolb, CTPO at eyeo. The theme was “Successes and Failures,” which served as an opportunity to discuss the ins and outs—and the many challenges—of being a woman in tech. The aim was to listen and learn and, in doing so, inspire each other to further growth.

AAX: So what were the main issues addressed at 2022’s WebSummit?

OO: I think it can be distilled into three primary topics: crypto, Web3, and sustainability.

One event that struck me as particularly interesting was the talk that Toto Wolff (team principal and CEO, Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS Formula 1) had with F1 TV commentator Rosanna Tennant and Oliver Steil, CEO of Teamviewer. When you hear the word “sustainability,” it’s very unlikely that the first thing that springs to mind is Formula 1—but that’s exactly what this panel was about.

Formula 1 wants to be carbon neutral by 2030, which is a challenge because one of the necessities of the sport is the team of mechanics, the scores of people that have to fly all over to the world to attend to the car. The number of flights that necessitates translates to a massive carbon footprint. And Wolff wants to change this—the idea is to become remote first.

To be remote first, though, it’s necessary to have the right tools. Wolff talked a lot about how using Teamviewer, including headsets, allowed remote mechanics to give help and guidance to the handful that are required on-site.

AAX: What else made an impression? Any specific talks or speakers spring to mind?

OO: Yes, absolutely. No one was more inspirational than the Ukranian first lady, Olena Zelenska, who gave the last talk on opening night. She spoke about how technology has been misused for violence but that she believes that technology can be used to save and to help people and communities. The decision to create tech that acts as a force for good, Zelenska said, can have a huge impact and “move the world in the right direction.”

Besides that speech, which was a stand-out, the majority of the talks, at least on larger stages, were discussing Web3. Crypto was a big topic of discussion. And maybe the most memorable talks that hit on these subjects came from Tim Berners-Lee, the guy who invented the World Wide Web. He said a few bold statements that have gotten a lot of attention, like “Web3 is not the web at all.”

AAX: How did the conversations at this year’s WebSummit compare to previous years? Or even just last year—how did WebSummit 2022 compare to WebSummit 2021?

OO: The focus on Web3 and crypto seemed more emphasized this year, but in 2021 people were also talking about sustainability. Sustainability is a topic that’s here to stay!

But the most prominent change, I think, was just that this year was a lot more seamless. Last year was, from a logistics perspective, hugely complicated because of Covid. The queues were up to two and a half hours long—because it was important to check not just tickets, but vaccination status and negative tests, etc. This year people were queueing, sure, but thankfully for nowhere near as long.

AAX: I’m sure the experience of being in Lisbon was phenomenal. What’s your favorite thing about Lisbon, in general?

OO: It’s impossible to pick one thing! It’s such a gorgeous place, and the weather and food are both phenomenal.

One thing I noticed about Lisbon, and about this WebSummit, was how freelancer and consultant-friendly it was. There was a huge global contingent, but I was surprised just how many people there came from Lisbon, and from around Portugal. And this really does represent a huge shift in the audience demographic—the people attending events like WebSummit used to be predominantly older, and predominantly people from large business hubs like London and Frankfurt.

That’s changed. Now you see a huge number of younger people, and they’re from everywhere. This is because you don’t need to be based in one of a few major tech hubs to do exciting work.

And I think Portugal has done a great job in attracting a vibrant demographic. Because young, talented people now have access to resources, and have the freedom to work and to exist and thrive anywhere they want. And they want to be in Portugal, eating a pastel de nata for breakfast.

AAX: Okay, last question: where’s your favorite place to get pastéis de nata?

OO: Probably Fábrica da Nata. Their pastéis de nata are so amazing, and the café is gorgeous as well.

Webinar recap: revenue struggles (and monetization solutions) in the time of coronavirus

On April 30th, we partnered with the folks over at AdMonsters to present a webinar. Our goal? To talk a little bit about the temptation for publishers to fall into old bad habits during the unprecedented time of COVID-19…and, more importantly, to provide a few answers, some optimism for the future, and one sustainable monetization solution.

AAX VP of Sales Tim Cronin helmed the discussion, with AdMonsters dynamo Gavin Dunaway acting as MC. We were lucky enough to be joined by two guest stars, Jayson Dubin, CEO and Founder of Playwire and Jason Tollestrup, VP Programmatic Strategy & Yield at the Washington Post.

The result of this conversation, which interspersed with thought-provoking questions from an audience drawn from all across of the adtech world, was a thorough investigation of what AdMonsters summarized as “re-engaging with the highly active, tech savvy and educated audience using ad blockers, while also examining what we can learn from ad blocking user behavior in building more user-friendly ad products and sustainable monetization strategies for a new digital media age.”

We’re going to recap some key takeaways for those of you who missed it, including some of the questions that came in from our audience.  And, if you’re looking for more than the highlight reel, you can view a video of the entire webinar “The Revenue Boost You Could Use Right Now—Ad Blocker Traffic.” Check it out:

Q: Why do you say that publishers are tempted to fall into bad habits during the era of COVID-19?

A: The real issue here isn’t the temptation—brought about because Q2 revenue is down 30-50% and there’s real need for new streams—but why we classify these habits as “bad.”

Inserting more ad slots into webpages in order to compensate for falling CPMs directly affects your user’s experience. In turn, more intrusive ad formats on webpages have a known effect of lowering fill rates and eCPMs even further. This results in a few dire outcomes, with the end result being publishers losing their audiences. When users feel their experience is being cannibalized, they tend to turn their attention elsewhere.

And, if you needed another reason, the resulting supply/demand imbalance is the driver of ad blocking. Which brings us to…


Q: Why are ad blocking users such an interesting demographic for marketers?

A: The ad blocking demographic makes up the most valuable 20% of users. These affluent, well-educated ad blocking users purchase more digital content than their non-ad blocking counterpart.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. AAX compiled a study examining ad blocking users’ behavior—including their habits of brand discovery, workplace roles, ambition, and loyalties— available for free here.

What’s more, research shows they don’t hate all ads, only the intrusive ones. That’s why ad blocking users are the cornerstone of the monetization strategy: the Acceptable Ads solution.


Q: What is the Acceptable Ads solution, exactly?

To quote a groundbreaking study from the New Jersey Institute of Technology called “To Be Tough or Soft, Measuring the Impact of Counter- Ad Blocking Strategies on User Engagement,” the Acceptable Ads strategy is one that:

[…] shows users acceptable ads, agreed upon with the ad blocking companies, which appear in the page even when an ad blocker is active. Acceptable ads are generally less annoying ads, such as text ads instead of video ads, and also fewer in number.

The criteria about what makes an ad “less annoying” are set forth by the Acceptable Ads Committee (AAC for short).


Q: What is the AAC, and how does it work?

The independent, third party Acceptable Ads Committee is divided into three “coalitions,” which represent diverse voices ranging from digital rights organizations to researchers, pubs and content creators to users. You can learn more about the details of the AAC here.


Q: How many Acceptable Ads users are there, and what percentage of ad blocking users are opted into the Acceptable Ads program?

AAX accesses about 200 million global ad blocking users through the Acceptable Ads program. This is partially because of a massive sea change: ad blocking has become ad filtering, keeping Acceptable Ads on.

With 90% of ad blocking users agreeing with the statement “I don’t hate all ads,” it’s important to realize that ad blocking users have the controls. When they’re using an ad blocker they have the capability of blocking all ads, but the vast majority (95% of consumers using Adblock Plus, for example) opt not to.

We believe that AAX represents a way for publishers to be the vanguard of positive user experience while monetizing a vast audience of premium users in a sustainable manner. Because AAX supports a balanced value exchange—prioritizing equally the interests of users, marketers, and content providers—we believe that ours is the most sustainable approach to ad blocking user monetization.

That’s one of the reasons we partnered with AdMonsters to present this webinar, and it’s why we’re offering the following:

Publishers who sign with us by May 31st, 2020, retain full revenue share for the first three months. We’ll waive our share, meaning publishers have 100% revenue share.

Interested? Contact us at sales@www.aax.media

AAX early spring forecast: Palm Desert –> Berlin –> Dubrovnik –> Santa Monica –> Vail

The days are dark, the streets are icy, and our feet are cold. Winter still is very much a reality.

But it’s hard not to feel the promise of early spring when you’re planning for events in places as diverse and exciting as Palm Desert, California and Dubrovnik, Croatia.

The next few months see the AAX team crossing oceans and continents to talk about restoring the value exchange between publishers and ad blockers…as well as educating ourselves on trends and innovations and sharing insights.

  • Lastly, we’ll be in Vail, Colorado from March 25-27 to attend another Digiday event: the Publishing Summit.

If you’re planning on attending any of these events, we’d love to chat! Reach out: contact us to set up a meeting. We’re available and happy to discuss sustainable publisher monetization options.

And we’re already busy planning our schedule for April and beyond. Stay tuned for what we have planned—follow us on Twitter @AAXMedia.

Is there a place in the market right now for mid-tier publishers?

Dispatches from AdMonsters Publisher Forum Scottsdale.

The first morning at AdMonsters Publishers Forum, Scottsdale was hardly an average Monday-in-November slog.

For one thing, half of the audience and speakers were walking around with stunned grins. These attendees, in from the Midwest or East Coast, were exhilarated by the Arizona warmth and brightness.

And even inside, where sunshine is replaced by stage lights, the mood was alert. All eyes were on the packed Chairman’s Corner, where Jim Egan, VP Publisher Development Integral Ad Science talked with AdMonsters Chairman Rob Beeler on “Shifting From Brand Safety to Brand Sustainability.”

In a conversation that addressed the issue of how publishers can avoid being left out in the cold, Egan touched on current events—including the recent trend in publisher consolidation.

“A lot of what we would consider mid-tier publishers are shacking up: Vox Media and New York Media and Vice Media and Refinery 29,” he said. “And that really makes me wonder: is there a place in the market right now for mid-tier publishers? Or is it going to be all big guys and all small guys?”

Rob Beeler weighed in, mentioning what he referred to as the recent “Deadspin tweetstorms.”

One tweet that stuck out to him was suggested that all the former Deadspin editors should “go and start their own sports website.” It’s an idealistic notion, says Beeler, but fails to grapple with the fact that “starting a website at zero, with zero brand around it and going up to where it was? That doesn’t exist right now.”

It’s an ever-changing landscape, and the discussion addressed the fact that the divide between advertisers and publishers is widening, especially in a climate where blocking has become more prevalent. One of the most important issues, agreed Beeler and Egan, is sustainability.

AAX joined the discussion at the following day’s “Question the Tech” Q & A session, where we also addressed questions of sustainability in publishing and readership alike, touching on how certain users are beginning to understand what’s needed to ensure that their favorite publisher continues to exist and thrive.

Check out the full Q & A below.

Why would an ad blocking user agree to see… ads?

The short answer? It’s a way to actively support the free web.

The long answer? That involves the demographics of ad blocking users, their commitment to journalism and publishing, and the types of ads they want to block.

We’re going to tackle all of that.

“A Very Savvy Demographic”

Tim Cronin, AAX VP of Sales, used the opportunity of speaking at Digiday Publishing Summit, Budapest to describe just who ad blocking users are.

“They’re a very savvy demographic,” he said. “They’re younger, they’re well-educated, they’re tech savvy, and they index high for consuming media.”

The numbers prove it: US-American ad blocking users, 64% of whom are under the age of forty-five, are 1.5x more likely than the average American to have a bachelor’s degree. And that number goes up to 3x when only the 18-24 year olds are considered. (Source)

These young, well-educated ad blocking users not only enjoy consuming media, but they have an understanding of the value of media. For example, they’re more likely to pay for online subscriptions to magazines and news services than their non-ad blocking counterparts. (GlobalWebIndex, 2019)

“The Value of a Free Press”

All of the factors that make the ad blocking demographic unique—age, education, and interest in participating in the value exchange of online media—coalesce around the question of publishers.

The desire for content access is matched by a growing understanding that ad revenue helps keep publishers’ lights on. Publishers have become vocal about the fact that ad revenue is what allows them to hire talent, create content, and maintain a high standard of quality.

Websites often suggest that browsers subscribe or donate in order to keep browsing. And this tactic seems to have been moderately successful: 15% of users are willing to either pay for the content they enjoy or donate money directly.

Another tactic is suggesting that users turn off their ad blockers. This is successful approximately one-third of the time: 31% would be fine with seeing ads in order to support websites. This includes writer Mark Wilson, who asserts he doesn’t install an ad blocker because he “cares about the value of a free press.”

The vast majority of users also care about the value of a free press, but they’re still concerned about the nature of ads being served. 68% agree with the statement “I’m fine with seeing ads, but only if they’re not annoying.”

As Tim Cronin puts it, “[Ad blocking users] need their favorite publishers to continue to exist. If they don’t subscribe, they’re willing to receive unobtrusive ads.”

“They Just Hate Certain Types of Ads”

When users were asked which ads they considered annoying, they overwhelmingly spoke of pop-ups and video ads. These are the ones that users “dislike”—according to the 2018 Hubspot Survey “Why People Block Ads, and What It Means For Marketers and Advertisers,” a full 73% of users disapproved of pop-ups.

When this is compared to percentage of users who disliked magazine and print ads (18%) and billboard ads (21%), it becomes apparent that it’s not the fact of the ad itself that’s annoying.

With ads, the medium is the message. A static, text-and-image ad is respectful. A glittery pop-up, however? That’s obnoxious

At Digiday Budapest, Tim Cronin summarized the relationship between ad blocking users and ads: “Ad blocking users don’t hate all ads. They just hate certain types of ads—the ones that feel intrusive.”

What are Acceptable Ads? A crash course

The AAX team attended the Digiday Publishing Summit in Key Biscayne Florida with a particular mission: instead of talking about AAX, we wanted to take a step back and discuss the Acceptable Ads initiative.

But in order to get the full picture, and understand how ad blockers have, over the years, evolved into ad filterers, we need to start at the beginning.

How Did We Get Here?

What are the causes of ad blocking? If you ask an ad blocker, you’ll usually hear something along the lines of “There are too many ads.”

But when you dig deep, exploring the causes of these “too many ads,” you’ll find the culprit is a supply and demand imbalance that has long posed a challenge to premium publishers.

What happens in a marketplace when there’s a supply and demand imbalance is that the seller—in this case, the publisher—finds themselves in a weakened position. That means that the buyer, the advertiser, moves into a position of strength. This has lead to a squeeze on the publisher: the publisher has to serve more ads, bigger ads, and more intrusive ads.

It was exactly this dynamic that lead to a dramatic increase in ad blockers.

Ad blocking is the Biggest Boycott In Human History– Doc Searls

At a conference like Digiday Publishing, ad blocking is always the elephant in the room. And in this case it’s not just a question of standing out. It’s also a question of sheer size: the scope of ad blocking is massive.

  • One billion people worldwide use ad blockers.
  • In the USA, a publisher can expect 15-20% of their visitors to have an ad blocker.
  • In places like Germany and France, the percentage ad blocking visitors reaches 45%.

These numbers are astounding.

But there’s another number to consider: 90% of ad blockers users can receive ads.

Solutions To Ad Blocking and Benefits To Publishers

When an ad blocker is installed, the ad block user is given an option: to opt in and consent to be served acceptable ads. The fact that 90% choose this option speaks to the fact that ad block users don’t hate all ads—just the kind of invasive, flashy ads that prompted the mass boycott of ad blocking.

It also speaks to the particulars of the ad blocking demographic. These users are young, highly educated, tech savvy, and index high for consuming media online. In other words, they understand the balance of the ecosystem relies on advertising, and that a browsing experience can actually be augmented by the presence of respectful, non-intrusive ads—by the presence, in other words, of Acceptable Ads.

The criteria for what determines an Acceptable Ad is defined by the Acceptable Ads Committee, a fully independent third party committee made up of industry insiders, privacy organizations, users, consumers, publishers. The criteria is straightforward: an ad can be deemed Acceptable if it

  • is a static banner instead of an animated banner
  • there is no video present
  • the ads don’t represent more than 15% above the fold…
  • …or 25% below the fold

Ultimately, what the Acceptable Ads initiative—along with AAX, an ad exchange that serves only Acceptable Ads—is committed to is achieving is a balance between consumer experience, browsing experience, and content monetization.

Obama, snowboards, and beer: the impact of Bits and Pretzels

This marked the first year AAX headed to Bits and Pretzels, the three-day Munich-based founders festival that famously culminates in a massive networking events on the Oktoberfest grounds.

But, as our team found out, the jolly atmosphere of this “liquid networking”—like-minded people mingling and beer drinking under the decorated dome of the Schottenhamel tent—wasn’t the only memorable thing about Bits and Pretzels.

In fact, for AAX Head of Operations Otilia Otlacan, time spent in the Schottenhamel tent wasn’t even the aspect of Bits and Pretzels most conducive to networking. For her, that was the speakers.

Want To Make An Impact? Help Your Neighbors.

The theme of this year’s Bits and Pretzels was impact. This created an unofficial dialogue between the speakers: everyone pondered what it meant to be impactful.

“The talks ranged from companies trying to tackle food waste at the local level to multinational corporations thinking about supporting entrepreneurship and how to support women. People were really considering their impact onto communities,” says Otlacan.

What does the word impact mean for AAX? For CEO Frederick Leuschner, impact refers to directly to value exchange. “The ad ecosystem is a community in need of balance,” he says. “The ideal is a three-way equilibrium between publishers, advertisers, and users.”

How To Thrive On A New Continent

Obama, Snowboards, and Beer: The Impact of Bits and Pretzels

One of the most inspiring speakers, says Otlacan, was Donna Carpenter, CEO of Burton Snowboards. Carpenter spoke about her journey, dwelling specifically on the lessons she learned when she brought the company came across the Atlantic. Carpenter, an American outdoors, was new to Europe and a much of the knowledge she brought from home just wasn’t applicable.

“If I had to distill her message,” says Otlacan, “it would be that, in order to be impactful, you ask for input, ask for help, and listen to feedback.” That message is especially vital, thinks Otlacan, in the fast-moving and ever-evolving start up environment.

The message of impact was also strengthened by Bits and Pretzels designation as a festival for founders. “What you saw was diversity in mission,” says Leuschner. “By building events around founders, the focus becomes centered around a particular stage in business instead of a particular industry. It becomes about helping people who are all at the same step.”

Barack Obama’s Secret To Success

Of course, no discussion of Bits and Pretzels 2019 is complete without mention of the star speaker: Barack Obama.

“His focus on leadership wasn’t just applicable at an entrepreneurship event,” says Otlacan. “It managed to link these large concepts of responsibility and global thinking back to start-ups.”

Obama stressed the importance of diversity, both in a larger context and within a team. “All of us have blind spots,” he said. “We have strengths, but we also have weaknesses. We have different perspectives. The greater mix of people I had around me […] with common values but different perspectives, experiences, and strengths, the more likely it was that we’d have fresh eyes and fresh approaches to problems.”

The environment of Obama’s talk, a hall packed with a mix of 5,000 attendees, helped bring these words into reality. It’s all too possible to lose sight of where we exist as part of a larger ecosystem and participating in acts of community—like coming together for a festival—can help you reconnect with a sense of being part of something.

Autumn forecast: NYC –> BUD –> LA –> AZ

The AAX team isn’t getting lulled into the sweater-lined, pumpkin-spice-scented cocoon of autumnal laziness.

Instead, we’re attending events. Over the next month, our team is crossing continents and oceans with the aim of facilitating discussions about restoring the value exchange between publishers and ad blockers…as well as educating ourselves on trends and innovation, sharing insights, and connecting with peers.

  • First, we’re attending Ad Exchanger Programmatic I/O, from October 15-16, in New York City. Come find our booth in the Live Exchange Zone.
  • Then, from October 21-23, we’ll be at Digiday Budapest, where our VP of Sales Tim Cronin will be giving a Dialog Presentation.
  • October 30th finds us at another World Forum Disrupt event: this time, it’s Digipublish Los Angeles.
  • Next we’ll be in Arizona for AdMonsters Scottsdale from November 3-6. Not only will we deliver a keynote lecture, but the AAX team will also participate in the Question the Tech Q & A on the main stage.
  • Reach out; contact us to set up a meeting. We’re available and happy to discuss sustainable publisher monetization options.

We’re already busy planning events in December and beyond. Follow us on Twitter @aaxmedia and stay tuned for what we have planned.

5 subjects of discussion at World Forum Disrupt: Programmatic New York

On September 18th, the AAX team joined with leading minds at the vanguard of programmatic for a day of sharing insight, strategy, and passion-fueled ideas.

In other words: we attended World Forum Disrupt Programmatic New York.

The talents behind World Forum Disrupt created a platform designed with the mission of challenging. Because of this, we made sure that we arrived ready to be challenged, ready to challenge, and ready to develop and participate in open dialogue.

The conversations we participated in were helped, in large part, by the fact that World Disrupt Programmatic marked the first time Tim Cronin gave a keynote speech in his role as AAX’s VP of Sales. This presentation became what Cronin referred to as “the coming out party for the Acceptable Ads program and for AAX .”

There was also another, more vital, reason why Cronin’s keynote was so important. As the new faces in town, AAX wanted to make sure that we had a chance to facilitate discussions on the state of ad blocking.

Hart Gliedman, AAX Director of US Sales, explains: “It was incredibly useful that Tim Cronin was given the stage to present AAX to the Forum, because was able to properly explain our unique value proposition to prospective publishers of the highest quality.”

We had a number of fascinating dialogues at World Forum Disrupt Programmatic, and we wanted to share five key subjects that we discussed at length.

#1 Ad Blocking: How Did We Get Here?

When asked about his keynote speech, Tim Cronin spoke enthusiastically about the event, praising the publishers and the atmosphere of change.

“It was interesting to see what people’s priorities and questions were. People were curious about the evolution of ad blocking. Basically, the surplus in online inventory created a supply and demand imbalance—premium publishers’ revenue gets squeezed in such an environment. As a result, many were forced to make up revenue by serving more, or larger format and flashier ads. And this drove up the use of ad blockers by the most sensitive and technical consumers.”

# 2 Privacy Is The Key

But other factors prompted the advent of ad blocking—what Doc Searls called “the greatest boycott in human history.” As Gliedman explains, this is partially the result of a misunderstanding. “Concerns over privacy are a big reason why people install ad blockers in the first place,” he says.

World Disrupt Programmatic was abuzz with discussions surrounding GDPR and third party vs. first party cookies. According to Gliedman, that’s a discussion that needs to occur.

“Having less data on the user? That’s the world that AAX lives in,” he says, adding, “Programmatic without user data is the future.”

#3 Mobile Is The Future

Another, adjacent topic that dominated dialogues concerned mobile. (For more on the mobile-related conversations occurring at World Disrupt Programmatic, check out Kristina Hahn and Gabrielle Heyman’s insights on the subject.)

“A lot of traffic is going mobile. Mobile relies on cookies,” says Cronin. “Safari just stopped allowing third party cookies, and other browsers are thinking of doing the same. This is a big deal for publishers—the industry is faced with more challenges than ever.”

# 4 What’s Broken Was Already Broken…

Gliedman stressed how important it was to let everyone know about the evolution of Acceptable Ads.

“The system is broken,” he says. “The trust between users and websites is broken. But it’s already been broken. That’s why ad blocking emerged in the first place.”

# 5 …But It Can Be Fixed

This broken system, asserts Cronin, is the reason that he was so enthusiastic about delivering “Ad Blocking Is Dead,” his keynote speech.

“It’s time to restore the value exchange,” he says. “Acceptables Ads allow users to support their favorite sites in a way that benefits all parties. It’s possible to meet in the middle.”

We’ll be posting video of Tim Cronin’s keynote lecture shortly. In the meantime, check out our upcoming engagements here or follow us on Twitter at @aaxmedia.

DMEXCO 2019 recap: restoring the value exchange, restoring trust

Autumn comes early in Germany. By the second week of September there was a palpable sense of excitement in the air as the AAX team assembled in Cologne. It may have had something to do with the golden light or the newly crisp weather.

Or maybe it was the fact that, less than two years after founding, AAX was attending our first DMEXCO.

During DMEXCO 2019, the city of Cologne was electric. Its normally relaxed atmosphere was bustling, infused with the 41,000 visitors from over 95 countries all headed to the Kölnmesse. This charged environment helped inspire us to get up for an early commute—mainly by train, although VP of Sales Tim Cronin and Director of U.S. Sales Hart Gliedman preferred to ride in style via e-scooter—to the Messe. We arrived at our Hall 8 stand prepared for two packed days of inspiring discussions, interactions, and meetings of the mind.

Crafting a dynamic stand, explains AAX Head of Commercialization Rotem Dar, is one of the most dependable ways to ensure a dynamic DMEXCO experience. “You can’t just exchange business cards,” he says. “You need a good sized stand, in order to create an area with separate meeting rooms. This is what facilitates longer, more productive conversations.”

Hart Gliedman agrees. For him, the meeting rooms served as a conduit to better communication. “It was great to talk to publishers and really have a solution for them. And their response was extraordinary. I’ve been in sales for a long time and it was wonderful to hear that there were very, very few objections.”

He urges any new exhibitor at DMEXCO to aim to find the right hall and position for their stand, but not to get caught up in the extras. “Don’t worry about providing food,” he says. “There’s more than enough around.”

Otilia Otacan, AAX Head of Operations, chimes in: there might be enough food, but there’s never enough coffee. She advises first-timers to “walk around and spot the professional coffee machines…because that’s where the good coffee is!”

To help expo-weary visitors in their quest for caffeine, AAX provided XL travel mugs—specifically, these mugs are 15% larger than average. This number was chosen as a reflection of what AAX provides to publishers: an opportunity to frictionlessly, respectfully monetize 15% of their audience. This 15% constitutes a young, highly engaged demographic who’ve consented to seeing advertising deemed acceptable by the Acceptable Ads standard.

AAX is restoring the value exchange between publishers and ad blockers, explains AAX CEO Fredrick Leuschner. And he sees this mission reflected in the slogan of DMEXCO 2019, “Trust in you.

“Trust is invaluable,” Leuschner states. “And restoring this value exchange works to restore an overall sense of trust.”

The double meaning of “Trust In You” wasn’t lost on the AAX team—and it served as an especially inspiring slogan to keep in mind for our first DMEXCO. “It was a reminder to believe in yourself and what you stand for,” says Otlacan. “That was easy to do in the thoughtful environment of DMEXCO. ”

VP of Sales Tim Cronin agrees. “I was deeply impressed with the quality of the conversations at DMEXCO,” he says. “You could sense a palpable shift towards building a fairer web that rewards all three participants in the value exchange: publishers, advertisers, and users.”

DMEXCO 2019 is over, but we’re already excited for what 2020 holds. And in the meantime, we’re gearing up for an autumn full of other events. Check out our upcoming engagements here or follow us on Twitter @aaxmedia and stay tuned for what we have planned.