Our story


In 2023, we kicked off a long-term campaign to help marketers rediscover the joy of digital advertising, by hiring a new Chief Digital Cheerleader, Joy. In another first, we quantified the value of the digital advertising industry to the UK’s economy, businesses and people by releasing The Digital Dividend report.

We added Connected TV and Retail Media to our biggest Digital Upfronts yet, which featured the likes of Elizabeth Day, Kaiser Chiefs and Asim Chaudhry, and - as AI burst into the mainstream - we turned the focus of Engage 2023 to AI. The Government’s Online Advertising Taskforce - of which IAB UK is a member - published its Action Plan detailing how industry and government will collaborate to address illegal advertising and further protect children from harmful ads.

The IAB Gold Standard forms a key part of the Taskforce’s Action Plan, with the initiative bolstered this year to further crack down on scam ads and ad fraud. Elsewhere, we launched our Environmental Sustainability FAQs; set off on a roadshow of roundtables to bring MPs, local business leaders and regional press together; helped our members to prepare for the deprecation of third-party cookies in 2024; and heard members’ views on everything from the rise of retail media to the power of emotion in advertising on The IAB UK Podcast.

Read a review of the year in full from our CEO Jon Mew.

Full IAB / PwC Digital Adspend figures for H1 2023 =  £13.8bn


In 2022, the industry came back together IRL at a host of IAB events. Leadership Summit returned to Sopwell House for the first time since 2020 and our flagship conference Engage moved to a new home - The Londoner - with TikTok trainspotting star Francis Bourgeois headlining the agenda. We also launched The Last Thursday Club - a monthly networking event - to give IAB members a regular opportunity to get together in person.

When it came to our policy and regulatory affairs work, the Online Advertising Programme (OAP) was a core focus in 2022. We responded to the Government’s initial consultation on the OAP and continued to work with our members to ensure industry had a voice in the process.

Working with our members, other significant launches in 2022 included: updates to the Gold Standard to widen the remit of who can be certified; the IAB Sustainability Glossary; our first retail media roundtable; and key definitions relating to CTV.

Full IAB / PwC Digital Adspend figures for 2022 =  £26.1bn (11% increase YoY).


2021 saw a lot of change in the digital ad industry, and at the IAB too. Digital Upfronts ventured into the world of gaming and podcasts, we launched our eLearning platform, making all training complimentary for IAB UK members, we resurrected our Real Living research and Leadership Summit and Digital Trust Forum went virtual.

Our Leadership Series featured speakers such as Alastair Campbell and Ruth Davidson for keynotes and roundtables throughout the year. Meanwhile, preparation for a cookie-less future was front of mind across the industry in 2021 as Google extended the cookie deadline to 2023.

Full IAB / PwC Digital Adspend figures for 2021 =  £23.5bn (41% increase YoY).


In response to the pandemic, we created IAB UK Connected, which pulled together insights and resources from across the industry to share how all of us had adapted to the situation.

Our flagship event transformed into Stay Engaged and a year of virtual events ended with Digital Upfronts, featuring none other than Oprah!

We also released our ‘Powering Up’ research into small businesses and worked with over 30 of our members to adapt this into an interactive online tool for SMEs - to help them unlock more value from digital advertising.

Finally, the Gold Standard was updated to strengthen the criteria and more advertisers announced their support for the initiative. Plus, our policy work continued apace as we responded to the Government’s consultation on a HFSS online ad ban.

Full IAB / PwC Digital Adspend figures for 2020 =  £16.5bn (5.0% increase YoY).


It was truly the year of mobile as mobile advertising spend surpassed desktop for the first time. 2019 also heralded our inaugural National Anti-Click-Through Rate Day, created to gently point out that marketers had become a bunch of ‘clickheads’ by being too reliant on CTR as a metric. The campaign focused on directing the industry to our Measurement Toolkit for alternative strategies.

We released our Inclusion, Diversity and Equity agenda, while Podcast Upfronts launched with top talent Jessie Ware and James O’Brien.

Full IAB / PwC Digital Adspend figures for 2019 =  £15.69bn (15.4% increase YoY).

Going back further…

Advertisers’ spend on digital channels grew from £8.1m in 1997 - when the IAB formed - to £13.44bn in 2018. You can track over 20 years of Adspend data via the Adspend Analyser here.

Jon Mew (IAB UK’s current CEO) took over from Guy Phillipson in 2017, introducing a vision to ‘Build a sustainable future for digital advertising’. In 2023, this purpose evolved to ‘Bringing the digital ad industry together to build a better future, for everyone’.

The IAB UK Podcast and Digital Upfronts were both launched during this period, and have grown to become stalwarts of IAB UK’s current offering. Over the years, Upfronts speakers have included Fearne Cotton, Jon Sopel, and Katherine Ryan while the podcast is now on season 14 (and counting). Engage, our flagship conference, started in 2005, with speakers from Bill Gates to Stephen Fry.

The Gold Standard launched in 2017 following a high-profile brand safety investigation that revealed advertisers had unwittingly been appearing alongside illegal content online. The core aims of the first iteration of the Gold Standard were to address ad fraud via the implementation of IAB Tech Labs’ ads.txt, brand safety via TAG’s Brand Safety Certification and improving the user experience by adhering to The Coalition for Better Ads’ advertising standards. The Standard has since been evolved and strengthened - becoming a key part of the Government’s Online Advertising Taskforce Action Plan in 2023. Find out more.


Rediscover the joy of digital advertising

Champion connections instead of clicks. Capture audiences' imaginations, not just their attention. Boldly move to your own beat instead of letting tech set the pace. It’s time to rediscover the joy of digital.