The digital ad industry recently marked a significant birthday, with journalists and Twitter enthusiasts alike reflecting on the milestone. It was the banner ad that marked its 25th year, making it a quarter of a century since the first one took to our screens in 1994, when dial-up was all the rage and mobile phones looked like this. It was also the year Orange Mobile launched an iconic ad strategy with its famous slogan.
Since then, digital advertising has grown into a vast, complex and innovative industry that powers the open web we all rely on. And it’s still growing – this year’s full year Adspend report, conducted with PwC, showed that digital ad spend reached £13.44 billion in 2018, up 15% year on year. In short, digital advertising is no longer the new kid on the block and with growth comes increased responsibility.
We have seen evidence of this in the past year. The digital ad industry is undeniably under more scrutiny from policy makers and regulators, with the ICO’s review of adtech and real-time bidding one of the most significant developments of 2019. While there is no single silver bullet to the issues the ICO has identified, the IAB have been proactively working with both the regulator and our members to find a realistic and effective solution that is in all of our best interests – not least the user.
Rallying support for the Gold Standard is another crucial part of the work the IAB are doing to improve the digital ad industry and ensure its growth is sustainable. Bringing together initiatives to tackle ad fraud, combat brand safety issues and improve people’s experience of digital ads, the Gold Standard has certified 95 media owners, agencies and ad tech companies and – in the past few weeks – we’ve announced its first advertiser supporters.
Tesco and McDonald’s are the first brands to commit to only work with Gold Standard digital ad suppliers wherever possible. This has been a landmark step and crucial for the Gold Standard to be truly effective. With momentum growing and more advertisers getting involved – at the time of writing, Coca Cola and Nationwide are the latest to throw their support behind it – we can start to affect real change.
Building on this work is a key priority for IAB UK and our members. Over the past 12 months, digital players have faced some tough questions and navigated new challenges, while continuing to drive innovation and embrace the creative opportunities new technology brings. As we head into 2020, this is our chance to collectively raise standards and create a sustainable future for digital advertising.