Our story

1: The early years 1997 - 2004

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 2000 this figure had risen to £153.1m. 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.

IAB launched Creative Showcase Awards in 2003 to celebrate the best in digital advertising creativity.

2: 2005

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 launch 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.

3: 2006

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.

Online adspend overtakes national press and passes the £2 billion barrier for the first time – demonstrating 41.2% like for like growth.

Full adspend figure for 2006: £2,015.8m showing a growth of 41% increase on a like for like basis year on year.

4: 2007

IAB celebrates 10th anniversary.

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.

5: 2008

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 and Thinkbox release the ground breaking TV and Online study “Better Together” which shows that using TV and online together delivers up to 50% increase in positive brand perception, as well as a significant increase in likelihood of purchase.

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 – the UK is still one of the only IABs to actively prevent the use of this intrusive 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.

6: 2009

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.

Tim Elkington, former managing director of Enhance Media, joins the IAB as Research Director.

Full adspend figure for 2009: £3,541.1m showing a growth of 4.2% on a like for like basis year on year.

7: 2010

Online advertising spend passes the £4billion mark with £1 in every £4 of advertising budgets now spent online (25% share).

Mobile adspend for 2009 revealed to be £36.7 million – an increase of 28%.

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. Since launch over 300 people have been trained from over 140 companies including NSPCC, Marks & Spencer, BBC Worldwide, AMV BBDO and Expedia.

Jimmy Carr headlines IAB Engage 2010 stating: “No one will overtake Facebook and Twitter. They're like The Beatles and Elvis. They were the first.”

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.

Launch of the Games Steering Group to promote all forms of advertising in and around console, mobile and online casual / social games – backed by Microsoft Xbox 360, Sony PlayStation, Electronic Arts (EA), IGA Worldwide, Double Fusion and IGN.

Full adspend figure for 2010: £4,097.1m showing a growth of 12.8% increase on a like for like basis

8: 2011

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.

IAB cuts the ribbon on the inaugural 120 Hours of Digital Display event, a week long exhibition celebrating creativity in online and mobile display advertising

Professor Brian Cox headlines the second annual Engage for Mobile event, attended by 500 senior marketers. Speakers include the UK’s top five advertisers as well as Google, Microsoft and Everything Everywhere

Full mobile adspend figure for 2010 revealed to be £83million, a like for like growth of 116% compared to 2009.

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.

Sophia Amin is welcomed from Dare, joining as Director of Marketing and Communications to manage all marketing and PR as well as oversee and develop the growing membership base.

9: 2012

The Telegraph wins the inaugural Future Formats Award, the IAB's showcase of outstanding innovation in online brand display.

Steve Chester, formerly of Microsoft, joins the IAB as Head of Data and Industry Programmes.

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.

Mobile advertising spend more than doubles to £203 million in 2011 according to the IAB / PwC mobile adspend figures. Brands invest in display ads as apps and smartphones spark rich media growth.

Mobile Engage 2012 is headlined by Louis Theroux. The award-winning broadcaster joined leading figures from Twitter, Shazam, O2, WIRED magazine, Unilever, Domino's Pizzas, Debenhams and Marks & Spencer at Europe’s largest mobile marketing conference.

UK digital adspend grows 12.6% to £2.6 billion in the first half of 2012. Mobile is up 132% to £181.5 million; video is up 43% to £69.8m; banners in social media are up 36% to £134.2m. FMCG and finance advertisers continue to drive display spend, accounting for nearly one third.

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. View pictures, videos and press reports on the day.

10: 2013

UK digital adspend grows 17.5% to £3.041 billion in the first half of 2013. Mobile is up 127% to £429.2 million; video is up 86% to £135m; banners in social media accounts for 23% of the display market £172m. Consumer goods is the top spending sector in display, followed by finance and entertainment and the media.

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.

Creative Showcase, the IAB's monthly award for creative excellence in digital advertising, celebrates its 10th year.

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. Read all about it in a full Campaign magazine supplement focusing on Richard's life and achievements in advertising.

Nick Stringer, Director of Regulatory Affairs at IAB UK, is elected Chairman of the European Interactive Digital Advertising Alliance.

Over 800 people attend IAB Engage 2013 at the Barbican Centre, London. The 9th annual event is the biggest yet hosted by the IAB and features speakers from the likes of Google, Yahoo, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft. The event is rounded off by a fireside chat with Rob Brydon.

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.

11: 2014

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.

IAB Mobile Engage celebrates its 5 year anniversary and is a sell out success. The event is headlined by key speakers from Google, Twitter, Weve, Facebook and Tesco - and culminates in a fireside chat with Brian Blessed.

UK digital adspend grows 16.6% to £3.5 billion in the first half of 2014. Mobile is up 68% to £707.1 million, accounting for 20% of digital ad spend and 53% of social media spend.
Mobile video advertising is up 196% to £63.9m; with video advertising overall growing by 59% year-on-year to £202 million. Consumer goods advertisers spent the most on digital display advertising, overall, accounting for 16% share in the first half of 2014, followed by travel & transport (15%) and finance advertisers (13%)

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.

12: 2015

UK digital adspend grew by 14% to a record £7.2 billion, increasing by £936M year-on-year. Mobile rose to 1.625 billion, increasing by £604 million. Mobile accounted for 23% of digital ad spend and 56% of social media spend. Display was up to 26.4% on a like- for- like basis to £2,274.4 million, classified up 11.6% on a like-for-like basis to £1,046.8 million and search up 8.7% on a like- for-like- basis to £3,772.9 million. The average UK household owned 7.4 devices that connected to the internet.

At our flagship mobile conference, 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.

In October we hosted our flagship conference, Engage, with special guests including Piers Morgan and Jack Whitehall.

IAB UK Digital Upfronts took place for a second year from 16 - 23 October, where a host of media and technology companies showcased their premium digital advertising opportunities. Companies taking part were: AOL, Bloomberg Media, BuzzFeed, Cheetah Mobile, Copa90, DigitalLBi, Facebook, The Guardian, Global: the Media & Entertainment Group, Millennial Media, Sky Media, Twitter, RadiumOne, Vice and YouTube.

The IAB UK moved offices in November 2015, just around the corner to 67-68 Long Acre. We renovated our original Macklin Street office into a brand-new events and training space for regular use. 

13: 2016

In March the IAB launched it's IAB UK Digital Techfronts initative, in a similar vein to our Digital Upfronts which take place in October. IAB UK Digital Techfronts was a three-day showcase of the latest technology and data platforms in the market. Companies taking part were: AdRoll, AOL, DoubleClick by Google, iClick Interactive, IndexExchange, Rubicon Project and Yahoo. 

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.

14: 2017

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.