One year since launching its “IAB Believes” campaign addressing the digital ad industry’s five biggest pain points, the Internet Advertising Bureau UK has released a summary of progress so far.  

In 2015, the digital advertising trade body laid out five areas for serious addressment. These constituted the ad verification issues of brand safety, viewability, ad fraud, in addition to the consumer-focused bugbears of ad blocking and privacy.

Digital advertising is enjoying some of its best success currently. It represents the fastest-growing advertising sector in the UK, with an estimated worth in the ballpark of £8.6 billion, up 16.4% from last year, and owning some 43% of the country’s entire ad market.

However, having grown at its fastest rate for seven years, IAB UK CEO Guy Phillipson admits that a surge in growth hasn’t come without a number of “medium term” challenges. While the trade group and its members have made valiant strides towards curtailing these issues, much is left to be done in the name of bringing the industry to full maturity.

“We’ve made good progress but, of course, there’s still plenty of work to be done, by everyone involved in the industry, and we’re committed to seeing this through,” said Phillipson.

Below, 12 months after their laying-out, is a summary of the progress made into each of the five areas for improvement by the IAB and its contributing members. 

Ad blocking

In its efforts to solve the issues around ad blocking, the IAB launched DEAL (detect, explain, ask, and lift or limit) as a set of options for publishers seeking to react to the growth in ad blocking. As part of this initiative, and supported by 44 IABs globally, the organisation also developed the LEAN (light, encrypted, ad choice supported, non-invasive ads) advertising standards last year to promote better and less invasive ad experience.

These have come out alongside the IAB’s ongoing research showing insights on implementation and views of ad blocking carried out to widen understanding and monitor the issue.

At the same time, the organisation works with the government and regulators to raise concerns  regarding mobile network ad blocking, with the aim to address any infringement of existing legislation impacting customers in a negative way, rather than to work towards any additional regulations. 


Aiming to reduce the risk of fraud, the IAB compiled a set of best practices as a guide for businesses, raising awareness of the potential risks and the actions to take in order to mitigate them. It also published a taxonomy document, describing different types of online ad fraud, as well as standards distinguishing between fraud and bad practice.

In further developments, the organisation also published ‘Good Practice Principles’ to verify processes of publishers, agencies and ad tech providers to reduce the risk of fraudulent ads being served. The IAB is currently building a certification programme to audit fraud detection companies against these principles.


The IAB contributed to the launch of the second certification of viewability vendors. Updated, the programme set higher common standards to audit vendors, deliver transparency in terms of their functionality and the way they compare to each other, and with the goal to reduce discrepancies between them.

Marking the growth of the channel over the past year, the viewability principles have been updated to include desktop video, aiming to improve quality, accountability and effectiveness for the online ad marketplace. Both the update on mobile viewability principle and vendor certification are to be released in 2017.

Brand Safety

As a member of JICWEBS and the Digital Trading Standards Group, the IAB helped to launch the third round of certification of businesses involved in digital display trading, audited against the DTSG ‘Good Practice Principles’ in order to check their processes to decrease the risk of ad misplacement. To date, 36 companies become certified against these principles and issued with a seal and certificate.


Responding to the new EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the IAB joined forces with the Information Commissioner’s Office and the Department for Culture, Media and Sports to set up a working group to educate and guide businesses through the new rules. As part of the process, it will continue to update its GDPR FAQs, as well as briefings to further inform members of any developments in the space.

To support organisations in their compliance efforts, the IAB is also hosting awareness-raising events, the most recent one being focused on Brexit & EU Data Protection.