If you are looking for the Criteo Advertising Guidelines, please click here.
Criteo and its affiliated platforms, including BidSwitch and BrandCrush, operate through the highest-quality supply network. For this reason, Criteo’s supply partners (“Publishers”) must always adhere to and comply with the following guidelines.
“Sites” include webpages, mobile apps, and any other source of advertising inventory that is provided to Criteo by the Publisher. To learn more about your obligations related to the information of users and collection of consent, please click here.
The topics listed below are not exhaustive. Criteo and its affiliated platforms, reserve the right to reject or remove Publishers or Sites from their network at Criteo’s sole discretion. Criteo reserves the right to detail, modify or update this policy at any time. Criteo will post these changes directly on this page.
1. Content Prohibitions
Sites that display ads must not contain any content listed under the prohibited category. These include:
1.1 Commercial Incentives and Financial Services
The site should not contain content which:
- Deceptively incentivizes users to click on a third-party offering that is not associated with the content on the Site.
- Provides incentives to users in exchange for clicks on ads, e.g., to access walled content or to get virtual currency, including game tokens or credits.
- Promotes or facilitates Ponzi schemes, pyramid schemes, get-rich-quick schemes, free-money offers or other legally questionable money- making opportunities.
- Promotes or facilitates financial advice programs that exaggerate potential returns or provide “guarantees” of financial return.
- Promotes risk-free financial gain (e.g., “No risk!” “Guaranteed!” “Huge Income” “100% return on your investment!” “Get-rich-quick” “Quick and Easy!” “Start Earning Today”).
- Provides information on tax evasion, money laundering or other illegal financial activities.
1.2 Harassment, Hate Speech and Violence
This includes but is not limited to, content that:
- Is hateful or discriminatory to any groups or individuals based upon their race, sex, nationality, religious affiliation, age, or sexual orientation. Defames or threatens any group or individuals.
- Promotes disenfranchisement or harassment of groups or individuals.
- Promotes hate groups, including groups that assert supremacy on the basis of race, sex, nationality, religious affiliation, age or sexual orientation.
- Promotes, glorifies or condones violence against others.
- Provides information about, or advocates for, suicide or other forms of self-harm.
1.3 Children’s Sites
This includes, but is not limited to, content that:
- Target children under the age required for consent to the collection of personal information, as defined by applicable law;
- Display Criteo ads to users that the Publisher has actual knowledge are children under the age required for consent to the collection of personal information, as defined by applicable law.
Nota Bene: For BidSwitch Demand Partners to enter COPPA=1 trading (see our Advertising Guidelines here), BidSwitch Supply Partners must ensure that COPPA=1 field is properly declared in all bid requests:
- If Supply Partner believes a user viewing the Site is 13 or younger.
- If Supply Partner deems the Site or content of the Site to be oriented towards children 13 or younger.
1.4 Adult Content, Nudity, Pornography, and Sexual Encounters
This includes, but is not limited to, content that:
- Is sexually explicit or pornographic in nature.
- Includes nudity, videos and/or images of people in sexually suggestive or provocative positions. Promotes or facilitates sex for compensation.
- Includes sexually explicit cartoon images, such as hentai or ecchi.
- Relates to fetishes, sexual aids or sex toys.
- Includes sexually explicit text, including jokes, erotic stories and descriptions of sexual acts; Includes crude language or excessive profanity.
- Comes with an “18 USC 2257” notice.
- Contains images of people wearing see-through garments.
- Provides advice regarding sexual performance or sexually transmitted infections.
1.5 Shocking, Offensive or Misleading Content
This includes, but is not limited to content that is intentionally designed to shock or horrify the user or generate attention through intentionally misleading or grotesque claims.
Sites containing the following content are also prohibited:
- Is intentionally designed to shock or horrify the user or generate attention through intentionally misleading or grotesque claims.
- Shares mistruths and falsehoods.
- Shares or propagates false information or fabricated information designed to deceptively imitate news media content.
- Contains language or images that are violent, disrespectful, vulgar or explicit.
- Is “NSFW” or “NMS,” or is designed to repulse, disgust, or repel the user.
- Includes any deliberate use of fraudulent, factually incorrect, or deceptive claims for the purpose of attracting traffic (i.e., click-baiting).
- Promotes the accuracy of, or guarantees results based on, astrology, psychics, or paranormal services or products.
- Content or sites solely generated for the aim of driving advertising revenues.
1.6 Alcohol, Illegal Drugs and Paraphernalia
This includes, but is not limited to content that:
- Primarily features excessive consumption of alcohol.
- Promotes substances (including substances that may be legal under local law) that induce “highs” or otherwise alter the mental state for recreational purposes. Examples: Cocaine, salvia, kratom, crystal meth, heroin, marijuana, cocaine substitutes, mephedrone, “legal highs”.
- Promotes or facilitates recreational drug use, including medical or recreational drugs such as marijuana, even in jurisdictions where it may be legal under local law. This includes content related to pipes, bongs or cannabis coffee shops.
- Provides instructions about producing, purchasing or using recreational drugs.
- Includes tips or recommendations on drug use.
- Facilitates or promote the sale of prescription drugs.
1.7 Firearms and Weapons
Sites with the following content are prohibited:
- Promote or facilitate the sale or use of ammunition, firearms, guns, air guns, stunguns, explosives, bombs, fireworks, knives or weapons of any kind.
- Teaches how to make bombs or other explosives, or provides explicit instructions on how to harm or kill.
1.8 Illegal Activity or Legally Questionable Activity
Sites that carry content that fails to comply with all applicable laws, including, but not limited to, Sites that contain, promote, or otherwise facilitate:
- Illegal downloads, P2P or other forms of file-sharing.
- Human trafficking or prostitution.
- Sales of illegal goods or services.
- Creating or obtaining fake or false documents such as passports or other false identification.
- Information regarding, or products for, passing drug tests.
- Hacking or cracking.
- Infringement or violation of any third-party intellectual property rights, including but not limited to copyright infringement, illegal streaming or any illegal distribution of copyrighted content, plagiarism, etc…
- Infringement or violation of privacy laws.
- Counterfeit goods or currency.
2. Content Restrictions
Sites displaying ads must not contain restricted content unless expressly approved by Criteo. Restricted content (listed below) refers to the content, products or services whose advertising may be permitted only in certain countries and under specific conditions, with the express approval of Criteo.
- Online or offline gambling. This includes without limitation, sites with real-money gambling products, online and offline poker, bingo and other types of gambling, lotteries, race books, sports betting, online gambling-related information, and online non-casino games played for money or prizes.
- “Online gambling” is defined as promotion of online, real-money gambling for money and/or ‘monies worth’, as well as the promotion of sites that contain or link to content relating to online gambling. “Offline gambling” is defined as promotion of physical, real-money gambling for money and/or ‘monies worth’, activity or establishments.
- “Online non-casino games” is defined as any internet-based game where money or other items of value are paid or wagered, in exchange for the opportunity to win real money or prizes based on the outcome of games, such as fantasy sports, online tournaments, or video games played for money or prizes.
- Lotteries, sweepstakes and other promotional drawings are permitted when prizes are given away with no monetary charges for the participants to enter. These Sites must still comply with all applicable laws.
2.2 Alcoholic Beverages
Content promoting or advertising of hard liquor, spirits, wine, beer, and other alcoholic beverages.
Content that facilitates or promotes the use of tobacco or tobacco-related products, vaping products, or related paraphernalia (including but not limited to electronic cigarettes, vapes, vaping devices, pipes, bongs, cigarettes, cigars, rolling papers, smokeless tobacco, or any other related products)
- Advertising clearly intended for smoking cessation is permitted in allowed countries and under specific restrictions.
- Electronic cigarettes and chewing tobacco cannot be advertised even when marketed as smoking cessation.
Gambling, Alcohol, Tobacco restricted categories – The MediaGrid and BidSwitch customers
For the Gambling, Alcohol, and Tobacco restricted categories, Supply Partners of Criteo’s affiliated platforms, The MediaGrid and BidSwitch, must opt-in to trade in Restricted Categories. To op-in to Restricted Categories, please reach out to your Account Manager. Supply Partner may also be required to agree to certain additional conditions relating to Restricted Categories.
3. Ad Formats, Placements, and Guidelines
All sites must comply with the following guidelines:
3.1 For Native Ads
3.2 General Ad Placement Guidelines
Ads should not be placed very close to or underneath buttons or any other object such that the placement of the ad interferes with a user’s typical interaction with the Site content or functionalities. In particular:
- Ads should not be placed in a location that obscures or hides any area that users have interest in viewing during typical interaction with the Site.
- Ads should not be placed in areas where users will mistakenly click or place their fingers on the screen (in app) without intending to click on the ad.
- Ads must not be placed on a ‘dead end’ screen. There must be a way to exit the Site without clicking the ad content (for example, a ‘back’ or ‘menu’ button).
- Ads must not be placed, generated or allowed to run in the background of the device.
- Ads loading automatically in the background i.e., outside of the app being used or page being browsed, are prohibited.
- Ads must not launch before the Site has opened or after the Site was closed.
- It must be clear to the user which Site the ad is associated with or implemented in.
- All ads and ad placements generated by your Site must remain solely in the environment of the Site, including “widgetized” Site areas.
- Ads and ad placements generated by your Site must not interfere with other sites, ads, or the operation of the device, including, without limitation, functionality of the operating system, device buttons and ports.
- Ads should not be placed in a way that interferes with viewing, navigating or interacting with the Site’s core content and functionality. Examples include: an interstitial ad triggered every time a user clicks within the Site.
- Ads must not be placed on any non-content-based screens, such as thank you, error, log in, or exit screens, which may confuse the user into thinking that the ads are actual content. This includes the screens that users may see upon launching the Site, before potentially leaving the Site or after performing a specific action on the screen such as a purchase or download.
- Note that interstitial ads are permitted in-app environment only and when complying with Criteo’s guidelines for in-app interstitial ads (see below).
3.3 Pop-up Ads, Prohibited Interstitials and Other Disruptive Ads
Publishers must not display ads in a way that is confusing or disruptive to the user experience, including, but not limited to:
- Postitial Ads (with or without countdown timers): these ads are displayed after the user has clicked on a link and will force the user to either close the ad or wait for a certain number of seconds before the user can continue to another page.
- Prestitial Ads (with or without countdown timers). these ads are displayed on a mobile or web page before content has loaded, and will force the user to either close the ad to continue to content or wait for a certain number of seconds before the user can continue to content.
- Pop-up Ads (Over, Under, or Upon Exit): these ads pop up on the user’s screen and cover the main content of the site and block its access until the ad is closed.
- Automatic Expandable Ads: These ads automatically expand without the user’s engagement or action (e.g., click, touch).
Sticky footer ads “stick” to the bottom of the mobile page, regardless of whether the user is scrolling the page. Publishers may use sticky footer ads only if they comply with the following constraints:
- Sticky ads must include a clearly identifiable close button to dismiss the ad.
- The close button must be of sufficient size to avoid accidental or unintentional clicks on the ad such as “fat finger” patterns.
- The close button must be positioned separately from the ad content to avoid accidental clicks on the ad.
- The ad should not take up more than 30% of the vertical height of the main-content portion of the screen.
3.5 Incentivised or Rewarded Clicks
- Publishers may offer their users the opportunity to view ads in exchange for user rewards or incentives, but only if the user is not forced or incentivized to interact with the ad, such as incentivized click.
- Publishers must not, directly or indirectly, provide incentives to users in exchange for clicks on ads, or make use of any mechanism or monetizable reward to incentivize clicks.
3.6 For Video Ads
- Video inventory coming from a site is allowed only when the site:
- owns the video player,
- owns the video content, or
- holds exclusive sales rights to the video content.
- Video inventory coming from a site must provide in its calls, accurate information in the description URL fields and any other required parameters for each ad unit.
- Interaction of Ad with Video Player. Once Criteo or its affiliate platforms has returned an ad in response to a request from a publisher, the ad must be displayed until:
- the ad itself finishes playing,
- the user skips or closes the ad, or
- the end user navigates away from the video content by, for example, closing the browser window with the page displaying the video. Content playback must be paused when a user clicks on an ad.
- Video Ad Placement: Only one video ad may be displayed within the video player at any given time. The publisher may not:
- obscure, hide, or remove any elements of the ad units,
- place the ad such that it obstructs the video player’s play, pause, volume or any other controls, or
- hard-code the ads into the content stream.
- Long pre-roll ads that can’t be skipped are prohibited. Pre-roll ads that include one or more ads that have a combined view length that is over 31 seconds and cannot be skipped after the first 6 seconds are prohibited.
- Static or animated ad messages and/or large display ads that are superimposed over more than 20% of the video player OR that appear in the middle third of the video player are prohibited.
- Auto-playing video ads with sound are prohibited; Audio must be user-initiated.
- Video ad length (VAST) should be less than the length of the content on which it is advertised (e.g., a 30 second ad should not accompany a video with only 15 seconds of content).
4. Additional Guidelines Specific to Mobile Apps
4.1 Ad Density
Apps must not display ads that take up more than 30% of the vertical height of the content portion of the screen. The 30% rule applies to “sticky” ads and in-line ads, and full-screen scroll-over ads (ads that require the user to scroll through the ad to view content). Exceptions are permitted for interstitial ads if they comply with Criteo’s guidelines for interstitial ads.
4.2 Apps Permissions, Apps Outside of Official Stores
- Criteo ads must not be displayed on apps originating from any source other than official stores;
- Criteo ads must not be displayed on any app that has been removed from official stores;
- In the event that an app is removed from the store due to concerns relating to app permissions, the Publisher must not run any Criteo ads on the app until the app has been further reviewed and restored on the store.
4.3 Lockscreen Ads, Screensaver Ads, and Ads Running Outside of an App Environment
Unless the Site is an app that is explicitly advertised as a lockscreen utility, Publishers may not display ads on the lockscreen of the user’s device or otherwise employ features that monetize the lockscreen.
4.4 Acceptable Interstitials (In-App Only)
In-app interstitial ads are full-screen ads appearing at natural app transition phases such as when pausing a game, before or after displaying the results of a game, or between two different activities inside the app.
App Publishers may use interstitial ads only if they comply with the following:
- Interstitial ads must include a clear and identifiable close button that allows users to skip the ad and return to the app.
- The close button must be of sufficient size and positioned sufficiently apart from the ad content to avoid accidental “fat finger” clicks.
- Interstitial ads may be displayed only inside of the app environment.
- Ads must not be displayed in a way that will result in inadvertent or unintentional clicks.
4.5 Close-button Guidelines
Certain ad formats such as sticky-footers or interstitials (in-app) require the display of a clear and identifiable close button to dismiss the ad. Criteo prohibits any mechanism that would delay the display of the close-button such as countdowns. Small close-button, absence of close- button or misplacement of the close-button which interferes with the ability of users to close the ad, are prohibited no matter the channel or environment.
The close button must be displayed following the guidelines below:
- The close button must be visible and of sufficient size to avoid accidental or unintentional clicks on the ad (e.g., ‘fat finger’ patterns).
- The close button must be positioned outside of the ad content to avoid accidental clicks on the ad.
- Interstitial ads must include a clear and identifiable close button that allows users to skip the ad and return to the app.
- The close button must be placed in the upper right corner to avoid accidental or unintentional clicks.
5. Traffic Quality Guidelines
Traffic quality is of the utmost importance to Criteo and we require Publishers to refrain from the following practices:
5.1 Invalid Clicks, Installs, Attributions and Conversions
Invalid activity includes any clicks, impressions, conversions, installs or attributions that are generated without legitimate human user intent, and that may artificially inflate an advertiser’s costs or a publisher’s earnings. Invalid activity covers intentionally fraudulent traffic as well as accidental impressions, clicks, attributions and installs. Publishers are prohibited from all forms of invalid activity, as detailed below, and Sites must not contain code that generates artificial bid requests, impressions, clicks, installs or attributions.
Invalid activity includes, but is not limited to:
5.1.1 Invalid Clicks
Clicks on Criteo ads must result from a human user with genuine interest. Any method or mechanism that artificially generates clicks or impressions is strictly prohibited, including but not limited to the following:
- Clicks generated by publishers clicking on their own ads.
- Repeated clicks on the same ad unit.
- Publishers encouraging users to click on their ads (examples may include: any language encouraging users to click on ads; ad implementations that may cause a high volume of accidental clicks; monetary or non-monetary incentives or rewards for clicks, etc.).
- Use of automated clicking tools or traffic sources, robots, or other deceptive software, click spam or click injections.
- Use of any other artificial mechanism to generate or inflate clicks.
- Clicks generated outside of the ad surface will not be counted as intended clicks.
5.1.2 Invalid Installs and Attributions
At Criteo, we consider an install to take place once a user has opened an app for the first time after having downloaded it from an official app store. An app install and its attribution must be the result of a legitimate user activity. Publishers must not use, directly or indirectly:
- Any mechanism intended to artificially take the credit for the app install attribution.
- Any mechanism or practice intended to capture organic traffic, take credit for a user or inflate the value of user such as click spam or click injection.
- Any mechanism intended to generate installs that are not the product of legitimate user interest, such as simulations on emulated devices (user spoofing) or through fake requests (SDK spoofing).
- Any mechanism intended to artificially take the credit for an app install attribution such as install hijacking, click hijacking, SDK spoofing, click spam, click injection or click flooding.
5.2 Ad Rendering
Ad rendering through the following methods is strictly prohibited:
- Ad injection – Publishers are strictly forbidden from using ad-injection mechanisms to render or replace ads on a publisher’s or advertiser’s site.
- Hidden ads – Ads that are not humanly viewable either due to their size, colour, opacity or other means.
- Stacked ads – Ads that are rendered on top of each other in order to generate multiple ad impressions per a single bid request.
- Browser pre-rendering – Publishers must not make ad calls prior to rendering the ad without rendering the actual ad.
- Publishers must not acquire traffic and impressions through malicious or deceptive activity (toolbar installations, malware, adware, etc.).
- Auto-refresh – Publishers must not make use of auto-refresh of ads except with the express permission of Criteo. We will reserve the right to remove permission at any given time. Ad auto-refresh must be limited to a minimum refresh rate of 30 seconds.
5.3 Manipulation of Personal Information
Publishers must not, directly or indirectly:
- Hide, manipulate or rotate the original IP address of the user.
- Obfuscate or alter the device_id or any personal information.
- Create or generate a virtual device_id or any personal information.
5.4 User-Agent Manipulation
Publishers must not, directly or indirectly, disguise, modify, rotate or otherwise manipulate the user’s user-agent string in any way.
5.5 Cookie Abuse
- Cookie stuffing – Publishers are prohibited from capturing cookies with the intent of inserting these cookies into a browser cache or http transaction in order to pretend a legitimate user has visited either an advertiser domain or a publisher domain
- Manipulation of Criteo trackers (cookies) in any way or form is strictly prohibited.
Manipulation of HTTP header fields is strictly prohibited.
5.7 Auction Manipulation
Publishers must not attempt to interfere with, abuse, or otherwise seek an unfair advantage in the ad impression auction, including, without limitation:
- Making repeated ad calls to Criteo for a single impression.
- Using any mechanism or code that will generate multiple ad displays from a single Criteo bid response.
- Using any mechanism or code that may interfere with, or disrupt the integrity or performance of, the Criteo code.
5.8 URL, Domain and App ID (Bundle ID) Manipulation
- Publishers are prohibited from spoofing or altering any of the following information: URL of the page, domain, app id, bundle id.
- Publishers must not obfuscate, alter, or misrepresent the originating source, domain, app id or URL.
5.9 Prohibited Sources of Traffic
Publishers must not use prohibited sources of traffic to generate impressions for Criteo ads. Prohibited sources include:
- Traffic generated by machine-initiated activity or non-legitimate browsers, including, but not limited to:
- Botnets or crawlers
- Traffic farms, data centers, servers hosted in co-location facilities or hosting facilities
- Virtual machines (whether hosted on a server or virtualized environment)
- Adware/Malware – Ad calls generated traffic on either impressions or clicks by software other than a legitimate browser.
- Proxy traffic – Traffic that is routed via proxy servers where the original origin of the traffic is masked, including, without limitation, anonymous proxies such as Tor.
- Traffic from countries or regions that are subject to sanctions by the United States Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) or any other applicable regulatory body.
5.10 Malicious Site Design and Deceptive Practices
Publishers and their Sites must not, directly or indirectly:
- Endanger the security of Criteo Platform or its affiliated platforms or their users.
- Arbitrage or “daisy chain” ad calls, resulting in significant and abnormal loading times, rendering or other computer software/hardware abnormal consumption.
- Generate impressions that circumvent explicit choices of the consumer (e.g., ad blocking).
- Change user preferences or browser settings.
- Initiate downloads without clear user consent.
- Automatically redirect the user to another page without the user’s prior consent.
- Intentionally confuse or mislead users.
- Gate content on mobile apps.
- Force downloads for content access (e.g., toolbars or any kind of software or code that is forced onto a user device).
- Contain, distribute or promote adware, spyware, P2P application, malware, viruses, worms, Trojan horses or other harmful computer code.
6. Transparent Supply Chain
Criteo is committed to providing a safe and transparent ecosystem to our advertising clients and publishers alike. We support industry initiatives such as IAB (International Advertising Bureau) ads.txt and app-ads.txt that aim to improve transparency of the supply chain in programmatic advertising.
Our publishers must implement ads.txt and app-ads.txt by correctly declaring sellers (they work with and authorize to sell their inventory) in their ads.txt and app-ads.txt files.
Criteo will reserve its right to automatically filter traffic flagged as unauthorized through our monitoring systems.
Nota Bene: For BidSwitch Customers:
- Demand Partners using the BidSwitch platform can choose to allow/block all bid requests without ads.txt authorization at the level of their choosing: Direct, Reseller, Unknown.
- These controls are available via Targeting Groups on the BidSwitch platform and can be applied across the board or only in specific instances.
Updated January 2023
Previous version available here.