The UK’s Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB UK) has overhauled its approved ad formats, culling a large portion of its existing portfolio in response to widespread adoption of ad blockers.

The move forms part of the IAB’s LEAN initiative, which proposes a transition towards light, encrypted, ad choices-enabled and non-invasive advertising, with the overall aim of eliminating intrusive ads.

According to the announcement, the trade body’s current portfolio of 33 different ad formats will “reduce dramatically”, placing more emphasis on forms which are flexible – using responsive design for optimal fit across different screens – and those which are compliant with the LEAN principles laid out above.  

Next generation

Launched just shy of a year ago, along with a frank admittance that the advertising industry had “messed up”, the IAB’s LEAN principles have been instrumental in guiding the industry out of approaches that have led a tide of users to explore ways of eradicating them.  

The revised portfolio – chosen based on industry feedback, consumer research and testing – comprises display and native ads, as well new “content experiences”. According to the IAB, that includes things like emoji ads, 360-degree images and videos, as well as virtual and augmented reality.

“These represent the next generation of online ads and will suit all parties involved,” said Steve Chester, the IAB’s director of data & industry programmes.

“Consumers will get a better ad experience whilst the industry can focus on a smaller number of ad formats which significantly reduces complexity. It’s all about quality over quantity – a mantra the digital industry perhaps hasn’t adhered to often enough – which should help reduce ad blocking.”

IAB vs ad blockers

Both in the UK and US, the IAB has been a stalwart opponent to ad blockers, while admitting that the commercial progress of the software is “a product of mistakes” within the industry.

The trade body’s stance on these tools was laid out most recently in a scathing retort by IAB UK CEO Guy Phillipson following AdBlock Plus’s launch of a controversial ad exchange.

“We see the cynical move from Adblock Plus as a new string in their racket,” said Phillipson.

“Now they’re saying to publishers ‘we took away some of your customers who didn’t want ads, and now we are selling them back to you on commission’.”

The IAB’s new formats are currently open for a ‘public comment period’ until November 28, following which a final version will be launched based on comments received. You can send your feedback to