Online Advertising Taskforce releases Action Plan for industry

Posted on Thursday 30 November 2023 | IAB UK

The Online Advertising Taskforce – established as a result of the Online Advertising Programme (OAP) - has published its Action Plan detailing how industry and government will collaborate to address illegal ads and protect children from harmful ads

Established earlier this year following the Government’s OAP consultation, the goal of the Online Advertising Taskforce is to agree upon and deliver a programme of work to help address illegal advertising – such as scam ads – and further minimise children being served advertising for products and services that are illegal to sell to them. The Taskforce is chaired by John Whittingdale MP and is comprised of both Government and industry representatives, including IAB UK and trade bodies such as the Advertising Association, ISBA and the IPA.  

The Action Plan that has been published today has two objectives in relation to the categories of harmful ads in scope: to improve the evidence base so there is a better understanding of the problem and to support and strengthen relevant existing industry-led initiatives, for example by improving adoption and looking at whether and how they might be enhanced. 

As part of this, IAB UK and other relevant Taskforce members (including ISBA, the IPA and the AA) will work together to increase adoption of the IAB’s Gold Standard, which has recently been updated with steps to further crack down on scam ads and ad fraud. 

In addition, the plan includes commitments relating to other industry-led initiatives such as the IPP Pilot led by the ASA, Stop Scams UK’s Data Sharing Pilot, and ISBA’s Influencer Marketing Code of Conduct.  

Joint statement from IAB UK, the AA, ISBA & the IPA 

IAB UK, the AA, ISBA and the IPA have released a joint statement commenting on the Plan which you can read in full here: 

Effectively addressing illegal advertising, such as scam ads, and increasing the protection of children requires a united approach and meaningful collaboration between industry bodies and the Government. It’s not something that any one of us can do alone. This is why the Online Advertising Taskforce has been created and it’s that shared focus that has informed the Action Plan released today, which sets out both to improve the evidence of in-scope harms and enhance existing initiatives to tackle them.  

Together with our respective members, we - the Advertising Association, IAB UK, IPA and ISBA - are all working to improve the advertising landscape. However, the Action Plan is the first time that we are taking a coordinated approach to further establish and evolve these projects - such as the IAB Gold Standard, or ISBA’s Influencer Marketing Code of Conduct - and to make best practice a must-have, rather than a nice-to-have. The input and support of our members is essential to deliver this. In short, we all have a part to play. Positive progress here will also support our industry’s wider efforts to improve public trust in advertising, which we all have a vested interest in.  

We urge all businesses across the supply chain to read the Action Plan and engage with us over the coming months to make the most of this opportunity to strengthen our network of industry-led regulation. In parallel, the Advertising Standards Authority has just launched its new 5-year strategy focused on preventing irresponsible ads and enforcement of existing advertising rules, including through mechanisms developed with platforms and intermediaries. 

We will continue to work with government on the Online Advertising Programme as it develops legislative proposals for consultation. It is essential that decisions on potential regulatory interventions are informed by robust evidence about where and how harmful ads are appearing and that solutions are targeted and proportionate. 

Stephen Woodford, Chief Executive, Advertising Association 

Jon Mew, CEO, IAB UK 

Paul Bainsfair, Director General, IPA 

Phil Smith, Director General, ISBA 

Next steps for IAB UK members

In addition, IAB UK’s Head of Policy & Regulatory Affairs Christie Dennehy-Neil is calling on IAB members to engage with the Action Plan to help deliver the changes that are needed. She said: “This is a unique opportunity to work with our members, industry partners and Government to demonstrate the effectiveness of self-regulation, which has a long and strong history in our industry. We have made good progress when it comes to building a responsible advertising ecosystem – but we need to keep that up and respond to challenges. If we don’t, we risk leaving gaps that the Government will look to fill.  

“The IAB Gold Standard is an essential part of the Taskforce’s Action Plan and it’s vital that we double down on rallying support for it so that it becomes a non-negotiable part of the equation. For suppliers that means getting certified or renewing your certification against the latest criteria launched in October to ensure you remain certified. And for advertisers it means working with certified partners wherever possible. If we come together across the industry behind the Gold Standard and other valuable initiatives outlined in the Action Plan, we really can make a difference, raise the bar and ensure we are doing our utmost to protect consumers – and the industry – from harmful ads.”  

You can find out more detail about the Taskforce here and download the Action Plan in full here. The Action Plan has been released in tandem with the Online Fraud Charter

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