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What Exactly Does Your IAB Membership Get You?

What Exactly Does Your IAB Membership Get You?

Not quite sure what the role of Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) is? Not sure if you qualify to sit at the table or curious about the fees and where they go? We put some questions to the IAB and asked a member and non-member for their views on the trade association for online and mobile advertising.

While European performance marketing network affilinet says without the IAB, the industry would not have the same standing that it does today, UK publisher and non-IAB member TopCashback, says changes need to be made to the structure of the IAB.

Ex-chair of the IAB’s Affiliate Marketing Council, affilinet managing director Helen Southgate, has been a long-time advocate of the IAB. Hundreds of businesses across the UK are also members – from Ve Interactive, Savoo and Affiliate Window, to LBi UK,, Rakuten LinkShare and R.O.EYE.

“The IAB enables us to be proactive about professionalising the industry through self-regulation and we can only achieve that if all of the stakeholders work together,” Southgate said.

“The IAB provides that forum and I'm not sure it would exist otherwise. In a nutshell, it is integral to ensuring that the industry continues to adapt, develop and evolve."

Commercial director at TopCashback, James Little, commends the IAB’s work with the voucher code guidelines, and more recently the survey.

“When I compare the market to the USA you can certainly see that the IAB have added great value by bringing the networks together,” Little said.

“The one thing that disappoints me is that as an affiliate, to be involved in the steering committees to help shape the industry, you need to be an IAB member; which was never the case when it started.

“I am led to believe that merchants don’t have to pay this membership to be on these committees either, which seems to suggest that merchants are more valuable than affiliates in shaping the industry - which I don’t really agree with! I’ve raised this in the past and I find it a shame that very few affiliates are involved and would love for this to change.”

Little said while the IAB membership can add a lot of value for agencies and networks, he feels there is perhaps less reasons for publishers to sign up as their businesses are often not as wide spread enough to justify the costs. 

“We are currently considering becoming members though as we’re at the size now where it may be worthwhile,” Little added.

We spoke to the chief executive officer of IAB UK, Guy Phillipson, to get the lowdown on the organisation:

Q: Who runs the IAB UK and is it a business or a non-profit organisation?

GP: The IAB is the UK’s non-profit trade body representing everyone involved in defining the future of digital advertising. As such, we’re member-driven, with our members setting the agenda for what we focus on throughout the year. The IAB team works with members who participate in our Leadership Council, other councils and working groups to set the agenda for the industry and for digital disciplines like affiliate marketing or B2B marketing.

Q: How is it funded and what does the IAB seek to achieve?

GP: The IAB helps define the future of digital advertising by carrying out bespoke research, supporting members’ research and sharing that knowledge through publications, events and a whole host of training courses.

Research and related seminars are largely funded through membership fees, as with our industry benchmark Digital Adspend study that we carry out every year with PwC.

For special projects, we also get additional funding to make those projects possible. This year’s Online Performance Marketing study, also carried out with PwC, was a great example of such an initiative. The IAB’s affiliate marketing and lead generation councils established a need for a study to quantify affiliate and lead gen activity and worked together to make it happen. We’re very excited about carrying out this study on a yearly basis, in the same way we do our IAB / PwC Digital Adspend study for the whole industry.

Q: Who is membership aimed at and why?

GP: Membership is aimed at companies involved in the digital advertising industry. Whether expert practitioners or someone just starting out in digital, there are numerous benefits to membership with the IAB.

One of the main benefits that sets us apart from many trade or professional organisations is that membership is at the corporate level, meaning anyone and everyone in your company can access members-only research, attend free member events, receive discounts on training workshops as well as a whole plethora of online resources

Q: Once signed up what is then expected of a member and what opportunities are then available to them?

GP: The first benefit of membership is that you get listed in our member directory. This is one of the most-viewed areas of our website, and many access it to review vendors, partners and suppliers they’re interested in working with. I think it helps decision makers get comfortable with a company when they see it listed in the IAB’s directory.

Once you’re registered as a member organisation, everyone in your company can sign up for member updates, industry news roundups and more tailor-made updates based on specific interests, like mobile or regulatory affairs.

People from all across your organisation can attend free events to stay informed about our dynamic industry or participate in our councils depending on their disciplinary focus. Members can also contribute their own research and blogs about industry topics for publication on our site, which we also share with members.

Our best members are the most engaged ones - active participants in the dialogues that help shape the digital industry.

Q: Why is it important to become a member and how can being a member impact that person or their business?

GP: Being an IAB member helps you stay on top of all the latest in the industry, which is invaluable in our knowledge economy. Digital is changing so fast - it’s essential to stay informed and help drive the agenda to ensure your business keeps a competitive edge.

Q: How much is membership, what is the reasoning behind the payment structure and how is the fee spent?

GP: Membership fees vary and are largely based on turnover. As a non-profit organisation, membership fees, sponsorship funds and supplemental research funding are all invested right back into all the initiatives we carry out in a given year. We host over 40 events a year and produce countless publications, so without that support, these would be impossible to achieve.

Q: How many members does the IAB UK have? Is membership on the up or down and what are the company’s growth plans?

GP: The IAB is comprised of over 800 member organisations, representing everyone involved in digital advertising, e.g., brands, agencies, platforms, publishers and tech solutions providers. As digital has grown to a £5 billion a year industry here in the UK, we’ve seen membership continually increase.

In terms of growth and our focus on innovation, we’re interested in building more bridges between established players and emerging companies. Tech City and Silicon Roundabout types of businesses will be important for us just as they’re increasingly important to the British economy.

Q: What would you say to people within the performance marketing industry who have not joined and do not plan to?

GP: Because we seek to represent everyone in our industry, I’d say that it’s a shame when someone isn’t involved, particularly players in the performance marketing space, which, as the Online Performance Marketing study showed, contributes a significant amount to our industry and our economy as a whole.

Our affiliate marketing council is one of our most active councils, in fact, so not participating means you don’t have a voice at the table when your peers are making decisions that affect your business.

Q: How important is IAB UK to the performance marketing industry as a whole?

GP: What we saw with the launch of the Online Performance Marketing study was not only a rigorous, PwC vetted evaluation of the scale of contribution of the performance marketing industry, but also, the establishment of a reliable benchmark for the industry’s maturation. As digital has evolved, the IAB has played a significant role in helping grow the professional profile of players in the industry, including the performance marketing industry.

In a challenging economy, marketers are justifiably looking for proven, reliable, results-driven channels. The figures speak for themselves with advertisers spending over £800 million in 2012 on Online Performance Marketing activities including affiliate marketing and lead generation. Which generated £9 billion in sales, however we’re continuously working to help establish performance marketing benchmarks. We have noticed that best practices helps make the performance marketing industry even more credible as a channel.


What are your thoughts on the IAB? Comment below and let us know...

Pippa Chambers

Pippa Chambers

Freelance News Journalist at PerformanceIN - working to source the latest and breaking news in performance marketing. 

From newspapers to national B2B magazines and technology reporting, I have covered a variety of genres. NCTJ/NCE qualified.

Please email me at and follow me @PippaC1

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