Reviewing ad quality

Central to the Index Exchange quality control system is the human review of all advertisements by Exchange Quality (EQ), our team of quality control experts. EQ manually reviews and qualifies every ad before they are made available on the exchange.

Our ad review processes mitigate risk to publisher’s websites by making sure that ads are high quality, facilitate positive experiences for visitors, maximize monetization, and limit exposure to bad actors and malware.

Advertisers and DSPs must comply with the content guidelines below (in addition to all applicable laws and regulations). If any advertisement violates our requirements, we may block the advertisements.

Note: The quality review processes described below are a non-exhaustive summary and are not necessarily a direct reflection of all Index ad review assessments. Index reserves the right to reject any advertisements that do not meet our standards.

Functionality requirements

All advertisements will be tested for functional performance to make sure that they serve as intended, facilitate positive user experiences, and adhere to the Coalition for Better Ads (CBA) standards. Advertisements may be removed if they are:

  • Not expanding correctly
  • Displaying a broken animation
  • Initiating an automatic download from the ad or the landing page
  • Automatically launching to the landing page or causing a mobile redirect

CBA's Better Ads Standards are designed to minimize the prevalence of ads that create disruptive or frustrating experiences for users. Ads that do not meet these standards have no place on the exchange and will be rejected under Index's rigorous ad quality assurance processes. For more information on the Coalition for Better Ads (CBA)'s standards, see Coalition for Better Ads.

Supported ad sizes

To ensure quality experiences for users, all advertisements must adhere to specific ad unit specifications. Ad units must conform to the dimensions and formats supported by Index for placement on publisher sites and mobile apps. Bid Responses with unsupported ad sizes will not display correctly upon Index review and will be removed.

Index continues to expand functionality to support new ad unit sizes for both desktop and mobile while adhering to the standards set by the CBA.

Scanning for malware

Index protects all users of the exchange from malware through active scanning of every advertisement. Before an ad goes live on the exchange, its embedded code is inspected for malicious domains by Index’s proprietary scanner. If any issues are detected, the Exchange Quality team will be alerted by the scanner to reject the ad and will launch an internal investigation into the reasons for the rejection, and possibly rectifying the issue. Supplementing our internal scanning, Index also leverages The Media Trust , a third-party vendor, that specializes in protecting media partners from malicious code, data risk, and exposure to malware.

Quality assessment

Index believes that all advertising content should be relevant, clear, honest, informative, and respectful. To meet this goal, EQ reviews the visible content of every ad that is eligible for the exchange.

Index leverages a list of restricted and prohibited content categories to regulate sensitive content. Some of this content may be allowed onto the exchange under certain circumstances, while other content will be rejected whenever it is detected.

Note: The quality review processes described below are a non-exhaustive summary and are not necessarily a direct reflection of all Index ad review assessments. Index reserves the right to reject any advertisements that do not meet our standards.
Prohibited content category Description
Adult Any content that advertises sexually explicit adult content or services. This includes erotic cinemas, adult magazines, pornography, escort services, or displays of nudity.
Deceptive Fictitious news or warnings simulating a false virus meant to deceive users into clicking the advertisement or purchasing fictitious products.
Derogatory Any content that promotes hatred, discrimination, or disparages an individual or group based on their religion, disability, age, nationality, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, race or ethnic origin. Also includes characteristics that are protected by human rights legislation, or any content that is associated with systemic discrimination or marginalization.
Illegal products or services Advertisements that promote the purchase or sale of illegal or counterfeit products and/or services.
Misrepresentation Content that does not clearly indicate it is an advertisement or sponsored content that can mislead consumers. This includes content that omits necessary information for users to make an informed decision.
Obscenity Display of profanity, graphic, gruesome or disgusting imagery, animal cruelty, excessive violence, or content that is likely to shock or scare.
Online piracy Any advertisement that endorses, encourages, or infringes on a copyright, trademark, or patent of another party.

Restricted content

Restricted content is sensitive content that may be allowed onto the exchange if the ads meet Index’s standards for the particular restricted content category. The standards for each category vary, but in general, the standards include parameters such as geographic area, age controls, responsible use language, lack of certain types of imagery or content, etc.

All advertisements that contain restricted content will be assigned advertiser industry and content groups. These groupings empower publishers to have control over the types of approved restricted content that appear on their sites. Publishers can elect to include restricted content by enabling the appropriate Content Category Filter within the Index UI.

The following content categories are considered restricted on the exchange:

Restricted content category Description
Alcohol Index may allow ads for alcohol-related products, businesses, or promotional sponsorship advertisements. Index will block any advertisements that glorify the over-consumption of alcohol, promote underage drinking, or any such content.
Cryptocurrency Content advertising the purchase or sale of cryptocurrencies including investment opportunities in cryptocurrency.
Foreign exchange Any advertisements that promote the foreign exchange market. This prohibition is due to jurisdictions that prohibit the advertising of foreign exchange markets.
Gambling Index may allow ads for gambling-related products or services such as local bingo halls or lotteries. Index will block any content that advertises illegal gambling services, promotes underage gambling, or is subject to certain geographic restrictions.
Dating Index may allow ads related to dating or matchmaking services for adults looking for a partner, and do not contain sexual content or are branded in a way that suggests that the focus of the service is sexual. Index will not allow content that advertises sexual services or sexually explicit content.
Political All election or political candidate advertisements will be evaluated for approval based on applicable laws for the region in which the election is held and advertised within.
Tobacco Index may allow advertisements that promote anti-smoking, smoking cessation, cigar shops, or e-cigarettes. All other tobacco-related advertisements will not be allowed on the exchange.
Financial services Index scrutinizes all financial services ads to ensure they meet responsibility standards and adhere to all geographically applicable restrictions.
Violence and weapons Advertisements that depict non-gratuitous violent content or weapons may be allowed on the exchange and are subject to meeting all other Index ad standards. Any ads that contain hyper-realistic violence, gore, encourage violence, or contain any other similar excessive violent content will be blocked from the exchange.
Cannabis and cannabis paraphernalia Certain types of brand promotion advertisements for cannabis and cannabis products may be allowed on the exchange, provided they meet regulatory and geographic guidelines. Any Cannabis ads that contain illegal cannabis-related promotional content (e.g. appealing to children, promoting an adventurous lifestyle, making health claims, etc.) will be blocked.


After their ad quality review, EQ assigns category labels to ads to help publishers control the types of ads that appear on their sites. The assigned categories include content, industry, brand, and creative types. Classifying ads into these categories increases transparency on the exchange and provides publishers with the flexibility to filter ads based on the assigned groups (e.g. publishers can filter ads that appear on their website by their content, brand, and industry preferences).

Ongoing monitoring

Although all ads are carefully selected before they are activated on the exchange, Index implements rigorous monitoring processes to maintain the quality of ads served. This includes performing routine scans on all active advertisements to detect, resolve, and limit exposure to malicious actors attempting to engage in fraud or spread malware. To help support our monitoring processes, Index also leverages third-party vendors that specialize in fraud and malware monitoring to help detect and eliminate malware within advertisements.

Index has additionally partnered with, a third-party technology that prevents fraudulent ads that contain malware and auto-redirects from activating on publisher pages by blocking their malicious behaviors, in real-time. Their technology works by blocking auto-redirects while still allowing the ad to render. This prevents malicious code from rendering for our users, while preserving the ad and publisher's revenue.

Advertising compliance

Index’s review of advertisements is limited to assessing compliance with our internal advertising standards. Index will, to the best of its ability, ensure creatives meet the requirements set out in our advertising policies. The limitations of Index’s review are outlined below.

Creative content

Index has and assumes no responsibility for ensuring advertising creatives meet requirements under applicable law. Index has rigorous ad vetting standards, as outlined in our policies, to ensure creatives meet our internal guidelines. We encourage our partners to review their own compliance prior to permitting creatives on the exchange.

Age prohibitions

Some restricted categories only permit ads to be directed to users over a certain age. Index does not have a direct relationship with users. As such, we encourage publishers to review their requirements for varying content categories prior to permitting them on publisher properties.

Landing pages

Our assessment of advertisements only apply to creatives and not the page that an advertisement may direct to when clicked. Index has and assumes no responsibility for information on creative landing pages.

Note: We encourage our partners to review their own compliance requirements prior to permitting ads on the exchange. A member of the Index team is always available to respond to any inquiries about our internal compliance standards.

Additional information

For more information and a complete list of advertiser industry and content groups, please visit the following pages:

For more information about our ad misplacement submission and resolution policy, see Ad misplacement submission and resolution.

Index reserves the right to amend these categories and guidelines without notice.