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In the interconnected world of advertising, things can get complicated very quickly. That’s why organizations like the Interactive Advertising Bureau or “IAB” exist — they serve organizations of all sizes by providing advertising support, legal advice, and research resources. All in all, it’s a very important organization!

Despite that, very few know exactly what the IAB does or how it works. Let’s take a closer look at the Interactive Advertising Bureau and explore its services.

The IAB Explained

The Interactive Advertising Bureau is an American advertising business that doesn't advertise. Instead, it provides a variety of support services to other companies that create marketing materials for their customers, including:

  • Legal support and counsel
  • Research resources, like the results of studies looking at the effectiveness of certain types of ads
  • Industry-standard guidance and support, ensuring that companies create interactive marketing materials of a certain type and quality

For example, an organization might have a question about how to create legal, effective interactive advertisements, such as PPC or pay-per-click ads. The IAB can provide answers on the front, including:

  • How to develop effective ads
  • What things the company can't do to ensure its PPC ads are legal
  • And so on

All this information can be invaluable for organizations looking to maximize their marketing effectiveness. The IAB places a major role in the digital advertising industry and digital media advertising ecosystem, providing ad tech guidance, assisting companies with data attribution, and more. Headed by David Cohen, it provides companies with what they need to come to good data-driven decisions.

How Is the IAB Organized?

The IAB, also called the IAB Global Network, is based in New York City and was founded in 1996. The company is comprised of 42 international licensee organizations located throughout the globe. For instance, IAB Europe is comprised of 27 national IAB companies across that continent, which themselves include 500 subsidiary companies.

However, the IAB overall is organized into four areas:

  • IAB New Membership Criteria
  • IAB Education Foundation
  • IAB Technology Lab
  • IAB Trustworthy Accountability Group

Out of these four departments, the Trustworthy Accountability Group is owned by the advertising industry. The other departments, notably, are owned and established by the IAB.

All interactive display ads are subject to the standards established by the IAB. These standards set out first-party data fundamentals and are reviewed for potential changes at each IAB annual leadership meeting, which reviews the state of the digital economy (most recently, the annual leadership meeting occurred in Marco Island, FL). Each IAB member gets some say in the public policy decisions.

Different member companies, including small businesses, can thus influence data privacy laws alongside other working groups. Check out for more information.

What’s the IAB’s Purpose?

The IAB’s purpose is to enforce conformity and legal guidelines surrounding display advertisements, like pop-up notification ads, banner ads on websites or social media feeds, and so on. It ensures that companies only create advertisements that fit into certain legal frameworks. This prevents consumers from feeling taken advantage of and ensures that companies don’t have to pay exorbitant fines.

Since the IAB is headed by leadership with over 700 leading media companies, these guidelines and standards are fairly universal and applicable to any industry. Each subsidiary branch or department of the IAB also has its own responsibilities.

For example, the trade group creates studies that provide important research on interactive advertising. Once these studies conclude, organizations and brands of all sizes can take those results and use them to tweak or improve their marketing campaigns across the board.

Furthermore, the IAB Education Foundation educates the broader business community, in addition to specific brands, about why digital marketing is so important. If, for instance, you are just starting with a new organization or have built a startup, the IAB’s Education Foundation can provide you with critical educational resources and help you understand why you need to lean into digital marketing sooner rather than later.

The IAB Tech Lab, meanwhile, develops the technical standards and solutions that are applicable to all display advertisements across the Internet. Thus, companies can ensure that they fit with the IAB’s rigorous standards and compliance regulations by using tools developed by the IAB itself.

Who Can Join the IAB?

Technically, any organization can join the IAB, provided that the corporation in question is engaged in selling, measuring, monitoring, or producing advertisements that are posted on the Internet. For instance, if you only have billboard ads or OOH marketing materials, you do not qualify to join the IAB.

But if you have online advertisements, you can join the IAB. You won’t be able to make any leadership decisions, however, until your organization has been a part of the IAB for some time and until it reaches a certain size.

Recent Efforts and the IAB Europe Transparency and Consent Framework

The IAB has done a lot to improve the consistency and quality of data collection and digital advertisements since its inception in 1996.

For example, the IAB developed plenty of advertising interface formats for digital ad metadata. These include the Video Ad Serving Template and the Video Player-Ad Interface Definition format. More recently, February 2012 saw the IAB release the IAB Standard Ad Unit Portfolio. This includes very detailed information for display advertising formats, helping organizations display ads in the right ways.

Then there are the legal ramifications the IAB has had on companies in the digital marketing landscape overall. For instance, the IAB criticized Microsoft in 2012 for not giving consumers auto-enabled Do Not Track settings when using Internet Explorer 10, as the IAB still believes that all data tracking should be opt-in rather than opt-out.

Among the most important recent efforts of the Interactive Advertising Bureau is the new Transparency and Consent Framework or TCF, which has taken effect in Europe. Announced in November 2017, IAB Europe created this framework to help all websites and advertisers obtain and record consumer consent for those consumers’ personal data ahead of the GDPR/General Data Protection Regulation.

The GDPR, put simply, is a European consumer privacy law set that sets restrictions on how companies can collect and store consumer data for advertising and marketing purposes. For example, companies cannot keep consumer data in perpetuity; they must only collect consumer data after obtaining permission from those consumers and only store that data so long as it has a demonstrable purpose for the company in question.

The Transparency and Consent Framework helped companies stay ahead of these incoming regulations so they weren’t fined immediately upon its implementation. At the time of this writing, new companies can join the TCF by paying an IAB Europe membership fee, then following the established guidelines.

The IAB, led by their Executive Vice President for Public Policy Lartease Tiffith, is also pushing for similar goals in the U.S., with their public policy team lobbying lawmakers in Washington, D.C.

Try AdQuick Today

The IAB is an important organization to every company that provides interactive media, such as clickable ads, games, and more. If your brand uses interactive advertisements to draw customers to its products, whether your medium is CTV, search, or native content such as podcasts or social media posts, odds are you need to pay attention to the IAB’s industry standards and legal guidelines.

But what about other forms of advertising media, like OOH/out-of-home ads? That's where AdQuick can help. AdQuick is a comprehensive platform that puts the power to manage your OOH campaigns in your hands like never before. Try it today or contact us for more information.


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