Why digital advertising works
Discover why digital advertising is effective for reaching your customers and building brands.
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. In October, a host of Digital Upfronts shone a light on the latest innovations from the biggest players in the industry, while our first IAB Debrief event celebrated the thriving creativity within the digital ad industry. Meanwhile, we launched The Last Thursday Club - a monthly networking event - to give IAB members a regular opportunity to get together in person.
Our annual full year Digital Adspend report was released in April, showing that investment in the UK digital ad market soared by 41% in 2021 to hit a total of £23.5 billion. The report, which is conducted with PwC, shows that 2021 spend was also up 50% on 2019, the last full year in which the pandemic did not have an impact on activity. Our half-year Adspend update was released in October, showing that spend in the first half of 2022 stood at £12.52 billion - a 15% year-on-year increase on the first half of 2021.
When it comes 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 are continuing to work with our members to ensure industry has a voice in the process. Meanwhile, the Digital Information and Data Protection Bill (DPDI) and online ad ban for HFSS products continued to be priorities - with the Government postponing the latter until 2025.
In September, we launched Gold Standard 2.1 - introducing new criteria to improve end-to-end transparency in the digital advertising supply chain, as well as widening the scope of the Gold Standard to include audio, gaming and CTV for the first time.
Working with our members, other significant launches in 2022 include: the IAB Sustainability Glossary; our social video series ‘Spill the Tea with the IAB’; our first retail media roundtable; and key definitions relating to CTV.
2021 was a year of adjustment for the digital ad industry, but this didn't inhibit its growth or innovation - from record digital ad spend data to new demographics embracing digital. To help advertisers make sense of the UK's changing online habits, we resurrected our Real Living research, the thread running through our Specialism Weeks throughout the year. We hosted weeks dedicated to Audio, Connected TV, Ecommerce and Gaming to explore who is driving growth in these areas, what behaviour looks like and the opportunities for advertisers. This culminated in the release of our Real Living research in full, revealing vital factors advertisers need to consider, from engagement mindsets to the devices people are using today. We also delved further into the world of in-game ads with a Guide to Gaming that explored the opportunities available to brands in this burgeoning sector.
As we trickled back into the office, events IRL were still off the cards. Digital Trust Forum returned for its second year, in a virtual iteration, addressing everything from personalisation in our privacy-first era to protecting young people online and how we can help create lasting solutions. Leadership Summit also went virtual, with Leadership Series bringing leaders together for keynotes and roundtables throughout the year. Speakers included Alastair Campbell, Shazia Ginai and Ruth Davidson on topics ranging from the future of work to climate change.
Stay Engaged also returned as a series of daily off-stage sessions - think deep-dive interviews and provocative group discussions throughout August. Digital Upfronts was back in October - three weeks where we heard what's next on the scene from some of digital's biggest names and ventured into the future of the world of gaming and podcasts with specialist Upfronts.
Keeping it virtual, we launched our eLearning platform and made all training complimentary for IAB UK members, spanning regulation, measurement, programmatic and more to help our members stay at the forefront of the latest digital advertising developments. Meanwhile, our weekly podcast had 20,000 downloads in 2021, including episodes chatting to Mindshare about measurement and understanding Nestle’s road to Net Zero.
Talk of and preparation for a cookie-less future was front of mind across the industry in 2021 as Google extended the cookie deadline to 2023. With a range of alternative solutions under development, our revamped User ID hub gives an overview of what's happening and details solutions from our members.
IAB UK members were also in the spotlight as part of our ID&E in Practice showcase - a collection of standout initiatives spanning different areas of businesses and elements of Inclusion, Diversity and Equity that all help drive greater inclusivity in the industry.
To close the year, our CEO, Jon Mew, reflected on the past 12 months with unexpected joys, banished zoom quizzes and hopes for '22.
2020 really was an extraordinary year, with what started as office chatter about a faraway virus turning into a global emergency and a year of social distancing where office workers of the world were asked to work from home. In response, we created IAB UK Connected, which pulls together insights and resources from across the industry to share how all of us had been adapting to the situation.
Before all in person events were cancelled, we managed to host two at the beginning of the year. Our inaugural Digital Trust Forum, which addressed key issues around trust and brand safety and our fourth annual Leadership Summit, which brought leaders together to debate and share ideas - at what turned out to be our last in person event of 2020. During the first lockdown, our flagship event was transformed into Stay Engaged - a series of off-stage audio sessions designed to bring the inspiring speakers of Engage directly to the ears of the industry. A year of virtual events ended with our biggest Digital Upfronts yet, including two weeks of forward-facing sessions, our inaugural Gaming Upfronts and Podcast Upfronts featuring none other than Oprah!
Our research outputs continued for the year and our Adspend figures for 2019 were released as usual, showing the overall online advertising industry was valued at £15.69 billion, before the economic impact of the pandemic was felt. 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.
We released our core principles for User ID solutions, setting out the key factors that we believe any viable alternative to third-party cookies needs to meet. We also created our Guide to Digital Innovation, with six chapters taking a future facing look at new tech and market disrupting ideas. Finally, 2020 saw the launch of Gold Standard 2.0 and more advertisers announcing their support for the initiative; plus, our policy work continued apace with December seeing us submit a response to the Government’s consultation on a HFSS online ad ban.
We kicked off the year in Parliament as we jointly hosted an event with Nigel Huddleston MP, highlighting the value digital advertising brings to the UK economy and the social good it brings by enabling free access to news and information to millions.
We continued the year with our inaugural National Anti-Click-Through-Rate-Day, created to gently point out that marketers have become a bunch of ‘clickheads’ by being too reliant on CTR as a metric. We also used this momentous day to launch our Measurement Toolkit full of alternatives, including econometrics and attribution, to the old-fashioned click.
Following on from the townhalls during Leadership Summit in the previous year, we launched our Inclusion, Diversity and Equality agenda. Featuring ‘How to’ guides designed to help employers create an inclusive workplace and boost representation.
In April, as always, we released our Adspend figures for 2018, which showed spend on UK online advertising increasing by 15% year on year to hit £13.44 billion. April 2019 truly was the beginning of the year of mobile as mobile ad spend surpassed desktop for the first time.
We pricked up our ears in May for season two of the IAB podcast, which during its run featured some of adland’s biggest names and racked up over 8,000 listens.
The mid-point of the year brought us back to our flagship event – Engage returned to the Barbican, with star speakers including broadcaster Tina Daheley, author and campaigner Caroline Criado Perez and many more. June also began our work with members and the wider industry to address the concerns raised in the ICO’s Update Report into Adtech and Real Time Bidding.
July brought us a joint research project with Lumen and IPSOS MORI looking into where people were looking and what grabbed their attention the most, from this we produced five rules advertisers should consider to keep attention. Concluding the summer we released our Gold Standard e-learning tool, to educate teams about what the Gold Standard is and how it works.
Direct to Consumer brands took centre stage in September, as we released our Born Online report which identifies 50 of the leading DTC brands founder profiles, customer basis and business goals.
The last quarter of the year was no quieter, with Nonference returning to Tobacco Dock for the last time and Podcast Upfronts launching with top talent Jessie Ware and James O’Brien. We also launched our ‘Get into Digital’ guide to help new starters break into the advertising industry.
Finally, as part of our programme to prove the effectiveness of digital advertising we launched a bank of brand case studies, showing how digital has helped brands to grow.
We marked the start of the year with a refreshed brand identity, a new website and a brand new vision focussed on “Building a sustainable future for digital advertising”. This aims to drive the industry to work together to raise standards and ensure digital advertising thrives in the long term.
We also gave our voice a mic, launching episode one of the IAB UK Podcast featuring 40 of the industry’s leading lights to boil down and discuss some of the industry’s big complex issues. The podcast peaked at 3rd in Apple’s Business category and got a 5 score rating in Apple Podcasts.
Engage came early this year, taking place at its spiritual home, The Barbican, in June to a packed audience hearing about authenticity, bravery, and experimentation. Guest speakers included Keith Weed of Unilever, Lucy Jameson of Uncommon London, Tom Goodwin of Zenith, and the inspiring broadcaster and writer Stacey Dooley.
In August we launched “Find your voice” research working with IPSOS MORI to map out the future of voice in terms of technology, consumer expectations and how brands can and should utilise a voice strategy.
We also increased our nationwide presence by launching a Manchester Hub delivering quarterly meetings, presentations and networking events to members.
November saw the launch of a brand new type of event at Tobacco Dock called Nonference. “Don’t take notes, take part” was the rallying cry to get the 800 plus delegates from all levels of industry to learn by doing and try their hand at building blockchain in LEGO and creating their own digital out of home campaign against the clock.
The year saw The IAB Gold Standard grow from strength to strength with over 100 companies certified and registered showing their commitment to reducing fraud, improving the ad experience and increasing brand safety.
Appointing Mind as our chosen charity, we brought the brightest minds in digital together to solve some of the charity’s biggest business challenges through an Ideas Hack.
And finally, IAB UK was recognised as a Carbon Neutral Organisation by the Carbon Footprint Standard having offset our footprint by reducing energy emissions and planting trees in the UK as well as supporting efforts in protecting the Amazon rainforest.
On 5 January 2017, we announced that Jon Mew, former COO at the IAB will take over as CEO from the departing Guy Phillipson.
Mew also made structural changes to the IAB, hiring James Chandler from Snap. Inc as Chief Marketing Officer, as well as appointing former Chief Strategy Officer, Tim Elkington to the role of Chief Digital Officer and Alex Kozloff to Chief Operating Officer.
In April the IAB / PwC Digital Adspend figures for the full year of 2016 were launched. The figures showed that digital advertising spend had reached over £10 billion for the first time. Digital grew at its fastest rate for nine years, by 17.3% to £10.3 billion in 2016.
In July we invited agency members to come to our events for free increasing the presence of the buy-side at our year round events.
At our annual Engage conference we hosted our highest ever rated session produced in collaboration with our publisher members. We gave spoof editor “Ken Fawes” the stage to shine a spotlight on the topic of “fake news”. David Walsh, Chief Sports Writer at The Sunday Times busted the myth live on stage going on to give an impassioned speech about the value of quality news and encouraging the audience to “Support Journalism".
Figures released in April revealed that UK digital adspend grew 16.4% in 2015 to over £8.6bn, with the average home now owning 8.3 internet devices.
In July 2016, the IAB's long-standing CEO Guy Phillipson announced he would be stepping down in January 2017 after 12 years at the helm.
October 2016 saw the launch of our first two-day IAB Engage conference, closely followed by the third installment of IAB UK Digital Upfronts.
Adspend on mobile display overtakes PC for the first time in figures released in October 2016 for the first half of the year. Driven by mobile, digital advertising continues to prove its worth to advertisers who increased spend 16.4% in the first half of 2016 to £4.78 billion – the highest first half growth rate for two years.
UK digital adspend grew by 14% to a record £7.2 billion, increasing by £936M year-on-year. The average UK household owned 7.4 devices that connected to the internet.
At Mobile Engage on 14 May, the IAB announced that it would be the last Mobile Engage. The decision illustrated the increasing importance of mobile in the digital landscape. The IAB continues its work to grow the mobile market and make mobile a main focus for advertisers through all IAB events, standards, and initiatives.
In August 2015, the IAB launched a new initiative called 'IAB Believes...' stating the IAB's position on current issues, in response to mounting criticisms about the digital advertising industry. The five issues covered were brand safety, viewability, ad fraud, ad blocking and privacy.
The IAB announced in September 2015 that it would be merging its IAB Board and Mobile Board to put mobile at the centre of everything we do.
The IAB UK moved offices in November 2015, to 67-68 Long Acre. The original Macklin Street offices were renovated into a brand-new events and training space for regular use.
IAB chairman Richard Eyre is awarded a CBE in the New Year Honours list for services to advertising and the media.
The IAB's Board evolves to represent 20 companies, from leading media owners and content creators to the world's largest social networks and tech companies.
The IAB unveils the IAB / PwC Digital Adspend Study figures for the full year 2013 which show a total UK digital adspend increase of 15% year-on-year to £6.3bn in 2013. Meanwhile, mobile adspend doubles to break the £1bn mark, now accounting for £1 in £6 of digital advertising.
Over a thousand delegates packed out The Barbican on 15 October to celebrate the IAB's tenth Engage conference. With lasers, a techno remix of 'We've Only Just Begun' by The Carpenters and an appearance by The Hoff, it truly was a show to behold.
The IAB proudly presented a brand new showcase for the UK digital advertising industry on the 13 - 17 October. IAB UK Digital Upfronts provided a perfect platform for media owners, tech companies and content creators to showcase their most innovative and coveted creative inventory packages. Companies taking part included: AOL, DigitasLBi, Facebook, Google, Mashable, Microsoft, Millennial Media, Twitter, Vice and Virool.
UK digital adspend grows 17.5% to £3.041 billion in the first half of 2013.
The IAB unveils the UK's first ever study on the Online Performance Marketing industry - conducted by PwC on behalf of the IAB. The report found that UK businesses spent £814 million on affiliate marketing and lead generation activities in 2012 which generated £9 billion in sales. For more information download the full study.
In recognition of the growing importance of the online audio sector, the IAB launches its first Audio CounciI, featuring key players of all sizes from within the sector including online pure players, radio specialists and audio advertising agencies.
IAB Chairman Richard Eyre wins the prestigious Mackintosh Medal. The medal, for outstanding personal and public service to advertising, has been awarded only nine times since 1980 with Jeremy Bullmore CBE the previous recipient in 2011.
RealView, the IAB's most extensive piece of consumer research to date, launches at IAB Engage 2013. Aimed at understanding the way people use devices, the RealView study captured the device usage of twenty participants across three days, providing a true reflection into the roles devices play in consumers' lives.
UK internet adspend increases 14.4% to £4.8 billion in 2011 according to the IAB / PwC adspend figures. Online display advertising surpasses £1 billion for the first time. As a result, online advertising now enjoys the highest share (28 per cent) of UK adspend.
Over 800 delegates attend IAB Engage 2012 which takes place at The Barbican Centre. The event looks at how businesses are successfully adapting to the digital age and explores what managers should be doing to transform their businesses. Speakers include Ajaz Ahmed, AKQA; Dick Costolo, Twitter; Fru Hazlitt, ITV; Mark Howe, Google; Rory Sutherland, Ogilvy Group UK; and broadcaster Dave Gorman.
April 2011 - together with IAB Europe, launch of the EU Framework for Online Behavioural Advertising to provide greater transparency and consumer control.
A key feature is the industry's commitment to display an 'icon' in all behaviourally targeted ads. The launch also sees the rollout of www.youronlinechoices.com across major European markets.
The IAB's Brand Building Trilogy is delivered - a year long research project focussing on three FMCG brands to prove how effective online advertising is in building brands effectively.
Online advertising spend passes the £4billion mark with £1 in every £4 of advertising budgets now spent online (25% share).
Release of the IAB's Social Media Measurement and Intent Guide, the first dedicated guide to demonstrate the effectiveness of social media.
The launch of IAB Engage for Mobile with key speakers from Google, P&G and Orange addressing an audience of 300 marketers
IAB Training is unveiled, to deliver high quality training courses across a range of skill sets.
The IAB Video Council brings the VAST 2.0 standard (Video Ad Serving Template) to the UK with wide market support, helping simplify the fragmented young market.
Full adspend figure for 2009 Full adspend figure for 2010: £4,097.1m showing a growth of 12.8% increase on a like for like basis.
IAB publishes Europe's first Good Practice Principles for Online Behavioural Advertising and launches a website to address consumer concerns on the subject, www.youronlinechoices.co.uk.
The first ever mobile adspend figures released in association with PwC revealing that the total mobile adspend for 2008 was £28.6m.
Stephen Fry - at that point the UK's most influential tweeter - headlines at Engage 2009, wowing the audience with stories about how he introduced Peter Mandelson to the internet in 1997 and explaining "I haven't read a newspaper for 12 years".
Video Council announces the UK's first set of online video advertising guidelines and definitions to bring order and consistency to a confused marketplace.
Full adspend figure for 2009: £3,541.1m showing a growth of 4.2% on a like for like basis year on year.
IAB creates a Regulatory and Public Policy function with the appointment of Nick Stringer who joins the IAB from Orange - "the UK online advertising industry has moved a step closer towards regulation" reports Revolution Magazine.
The launch of the IAB's dedicated mobile department with the appointment of Jon Mew formerly of Orange, Freeserve and Wanadoo.
IAB moves offices to 14 Macklin Street in the heart of Covent Garden and now has its own event space to enable the hosting of up to 60 events per year.
IAB's Search Council sets up the Search Help Centre - backed by Google, Microsoft and Yahoo!, media agencies and brands - to bring consistency and reassurance to the market around topics like trademarks, copyright and intellectual property.
Video Council launched to support the emerging online video advertising market with support from Channel 4, ITV, Sky, Microsoft, YouTube and more.
Display Council updates its online advertising standards removing 'pop ups' as a recommended format.
Amidst a background of worldwide recession and record cuts in marketing budgets, advertising spend collapses as the economy grinds to a halt. Online is the only medium to show growth.
Full adspend figure for 2008: £3,349.8m showing a growth of 17.1% increase on a like for like basis year on year.
Launch of the definitive Online Population Survey with National Readership Surveys (NRS) which carries out 36,000 face-to-face interviews per year. This represents a significant step towards the establishment of a single online planning currency and is a breakthrough for online media planning and brand marketers.
UK confirmed as the most advanced market in the world with the highest share of media going online. Online advertising spend overtakes direct mail, regional newspapers and press classifieds.
Full adspend figure for 2007: £2,812.7m showing a growth of 38% increase on a like for like basis year on year.
Revolution magazine names Guy Phillipson the Digital Business Person of the year.
A young James Murdoch addresses a packed house at IAB Engage 2006, cementing the reputation of the digital advertising industry's foremost event of the year.
Full adspend figure for 2006: £2,015.8m showing a growth of 41% increase on a like for like basis year on year.
Guy Phillipson, ex head of advertising at Vodafone, takes over as CEO in January 2005.
During his first year, online advertising revenues pass £1 billion for the first time and overtake radio, consumer magazines and then outdoor to become a truly mainstream medium.
Launch of Engage, the IAB's flagship conference aiming to demystify the world of digital for advertisers and inspire marketers ready to take advantage of this rapidly growing medium. The event features keynote presentations from
Sir Martin Sorrell, Lord Puttnam and Bill Gates, who pronounces, "the future of advertising is the internet".
Full adspend figure for 2005: £1,366.5m
IAB UK was founded in 1997 - several months before the Google domain name was registered.
The first IAB / PwC adspend figures released in 1998 showed online advertising to be worth £8.1 million in 1997. By 2004 this was £825.2million.
Between 1997 and 2004 the value of the UK's online advertising industry grew by 10,088 per cent.
Richard Eyre, ex-Chief Executive of ITV Networks and Board Director of Guardian Media Group became IAB chairman in 2003.
Discover why digital advertising is effective for reaching your customers and building brands.