In this world of social distancing, working together is the way forward

Posted on: Wednesday 16 September 2020 | Jon Mew

Our CEO Jon Mew reflects on how the past six months have brought the IAB closer to its members, lending a renewed energy to our cross-industry work, and highlights the importance of continued collaboration

It’s fair to say that 2020 is shaping up to be a pretty strange year. If you’d told me in March that many of us would still be working from home by the time autumn rolled around, I would have a) not believed you and b) worried about the IAB’s ability to remain at the heart of this diverse and dynamic industry. 

Now, six months on, it is testament to the adaptability and resilience of you, our members, that we not only continue to collaborate and drive our industry forward, but that our current circumstances seem to have brought us closer - lending a renewed energy to our cross-industry initiatives. While we often spend a lot of time looking to the future, I want to take a moment to reflect on what we have achieved so far this year by working together.  

Back in April, I wrote a piece for New Digital Age in which I highlighted digital’s ability to unite us and called on our industry to keep sharing and learning from one another. At the time, it very much felt as though we were collectively navigating new territory and, via the launch of IAB UK Connected, we have set out to share our members’ ideas, initiatives and creativity - providing a sense of industry unity, virtually.

Simultaneously, we have been busy pivoting other areas of our work. We adapted our flagship Engage event to run as a month-long Stay Engaged podcast series, launched topical weekly webinars, pivoted our training so it could continue online and launched a roster of virtual member presentations. Throughout all of it, our members have been willing to come on this journey with us, adapting and embracing new ways of working, ‘meeting’ and creating. 

Now, as restrictions to curb the spread of the pandemic are again tightened, it’s becoming increasingly clear that we will be working like this for some time to come. Yet six months into homemade lunches and Zoom backgrounds, the surreal novelty of the initial situation has worn off. We are no longer propelled by the strangeness of it all. And so it’s now that we need to maintain our momentum. 

Bringing the industry together has always been one of our core pillars at the IAB. In past years we have been able to do this via our busy roster of annual events, as well as rallying our members around cross-industry initiatives such as the Gold Standard. While, for the time being, we can no longer meet en masse, the importance of this collaboration and unity is arguably more important. 

In short, and to steal a well-known saying, we are greater than the sum of our parts. That was the case when we could physically get together at events and group meetings, and it remains the case now. We are still, as ever, facing challenges and opportunities that demand joint action, and we at the IAB are committed to working with our members to achieve this. 

Over the past few months, what has been so heartening is that - even when we can’t welcome you into our Covent Garden office or host you at our events - the engagement and active participation of our members has remained undimmed. And while businesses have individually been dealing with the stark economic fall-out of COVID-19, they have simultaneously continued to care passionately about the broader industry issues. 

This input and support is integral to the future of the digital advertising industry - from feeding into our response to the HFSS ad ban over the coming months to getting behind our soon-to-be launched Gold Standard 2.0. Together we can continue to build a more responsible and sustainable future for businesses across the supply chain. 

Not only this, but social distancing certainly doesn’t put a stop to celebrating amazing digital creativity. Take our Guide to Digital Innovation 2020, which has seen members from across the industry share their expertise on a weekly basis. Or this year’s Digital Upfronts - two weeks of virtual events with some of the industry’s biggest names, plus a deep-dive into how advertisers can tap into the growing markets of gaming and podcasting. 

As the ‘new normal’ (I had to say it at some point) becomes increasingly, well, normal, we will continue to connect our members, share ideas and unify the industry to navigate the big challenges we jointly face. In this world of social distancing, working together really is the way forward. 

Written by

Jon Mew

Related content


Digital accounts for 70% of advertising spend

Get a snapshot of the UK advertising market by media sector, using IAB UK/PwC Adspend and WARC data

Learn more
James Chandler

As digital audio ad spend rockets, it’s time for advertisers to make themselves heard

With the value of digital audio amplified by the year’s Digital Adspend report, our CMO James Chandler explores the exciting opportunities presented to...

Learn more
Jon Mew

Digital advertising growth against the odds

Following the release of 2020’s Digital Adspend report, our CEO Jon Mew shares his views on this year’s results and reveals why he is feeling optimistic...

Learn more

Digital Audio: As ad spend grows, is consumer behaviour also changing?

An IAB UK/YouGov survey shows that people have been listening to digital audio more since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and over a third say they...

Learn more

Why digital advertising works

Discover why digital advertising is effective for reaching your customers and building brands.