Adopt Your Emoji At Unicode

In September 2015, Emojipedia launched something new called Adopt an Emoji. The pitch was this:

  1. Companies pay a flat, yearly fee to adopt an emoji, with their message showing on Emojipedia.
  • Users see no display ads on any adopted emoji page.

We had Jonathan Mann create this catchy video:

Users loved the feature. Anything to reduce the number of display ads on the site, the better. A standard page on Emojipedia has multiple ads, and by comparison an adopted emoji had a single line of text. Quicker to load, and no Punch the Monkey.

Despite this, we are today announcing that Emojipedia's Adopt an Emoji program has come to a close.

I would like to personally thank all the companies that supported us by adopting their own emoji.

So why are we doing this? Read on.


At the time of launching Adopt an Emoji, we were amid the mass-fervour surrounding iOS 9's impending ad blocking functionality. Here's what I said[1] at the time:

Hello, and welcome to 2015: The year that we might view in hindsight as the start of peak display-ad on the web.

Clearly I was wrong on this. Display ads continue to exist, and ad-blocking hasn't brought about the free-web apocalypse.


Here's what happened within the couple of months surrounding our Adopt an Emoji launch:

  • September 2015: Emojipedia launches "Adopt an Emoji"
  • December 2015: Unicode launches "Adopt a Character"


Despite what it looks like, I am assured that the Unicode program had been well in the planning[2] at the time of the Emojipedia launch.

Yes, the two programs are very similar, but "adopting" items on the internet is not a new concept invented by us.

In fact, I was personally inspired by the Adopt a Word program at Wordnik when looking into doing this at Emojipedia.


Adoptions from Unicode's Adopt a Character will go toward funding the wider development of digital language support in Unicode.

President Mark Davis had this to say on launch:

"The vast majority of the world’s living languages, close to 98 percent, are ‘digitally disadvantaged’ – meaning they are not supported on the most popular devices, operating systems, browsers and mobile applications."


"So far, Unicode’s resources have been focused on the most-prominent scripts and languages of the world. Gathering information for less-prominent scripts and languages – such as Berber, Balinese, Cherokee, Javanese, N’Ko, Pahawh Hmong and Kashmiri – is often more difficult, requiring travel, research, engineering resources and software tooling."

In mid-2016 the first grant was made using funds from the Unicode Adopt a Character program:

"The initial grant allows a Unicode encoding expert to participate in a meeting at the University of Cambridge on Egyptian hieroglyphs"

Unicode's Adopt a Character is a great program, and we would like to give it our full support.

While both Emojipedia and Unicode adoptions could co-exist;[3] this is confusing for users, it's confusing for advertisers, and most of all, we don't want to be in the business of competing with this good cause.

After all, without the ongoing work from all involved at Unicode, we wouldn't have the universally-supported emojis we have today.

So with that in mind, if you or your organisation wishes to support these efforts, I encourage you to:

  1. Foolishly, in hindsight. ↩︎

  2. If there's one key difference between the Unicode Consortium and Emojipedia, it's that we are smaller, and thus more nimble. These sorts of releases simply take less time for us. ↩︎

  3. One of our first adoptees, Ballantine's, has done exactly this with the Tumbler (aka Whisky) Glass emoji. ↩︎