The IAB Global Network is made up of 42 international licensee organizations around the world. IAB Europe is a coalition of 27 national IABs across Europe, and over 500 companies. The IAB publishes Mediascope Europe annually, a media consumption study based on over 50,000 consumer interviews.
The IAB's organizational model includes four areas: IAB (New Membership Criteria), IAB Education Foundation, IAB Technology Lab and Trustworthy Accountability Group. The Trustworthy Accountability Group is industry-owned whereas the rest are owned by IAB. Display ads are subject to standards established by the IAB.
It has developed a number of interface formats for digital advertising metadata, including the Video Ad Serving Template and Video Player-Ad Interface Definition formats. On February 26, 2012, IAB released IAB Standard Ad Unit Portfolio, that included detailed information on all display advertising formats.
In January 2016, IAB did not allow the developers of Adblock Plus to attend their event, and refunded the money that Adblock Plus paid. The IAB did not disclose why they did not allow Adblock Plus to attend. In May 2016, Business Insider reported that the IAB leader had, in January, described Adblock Plus as an "unethical, immoral, mendacious coven of tech wannabes" and an "old-fashioned extortion racket."
In June 2017, IAB finalized its specification for the initial version of an ads.txt standard for publishers to list authorized sellers.
In February 2020, IAB formed a industry-wide consortium under 'Project Rearc' to find a solution to third-party cookies being blocked.
Transparency and Consent FrameworkEdit
In November 2017, IAB Europe announced an technical framework (IAB Europe Transparency and Consent framework, or TCF) intended to “enable websites, advertisers and their ad technology partners” to obtain, record and update consumer consent for their personal data to be processed in line with the upcoming General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Actors can join the TCF through paying a membership fee to IAB Europe, and tailor their data usage purposes and organisational data processing policies to the wording and specifications in the framework laid out in the technical standards and the policy terms and conditions agreed with IAB Europe, initially made available to the public in March 2018. Actors who are members of the TCF are listed in the regularly-updated Global Vendor List published by IAB Europe, which is used by all vendors to know which other organisations are technically and contractually bound by the TCF, and to give vendors common ways to refer to each other other the standardised Transparency and Consent String that is sent as metadata between actors in the online advertising industry.
In February 2022, the Belgian Data Protection Authority released a ruling, approved by the European Data Protection Board and triggered by the complaints above, relating to the data protection compliance of the Transparency and Consent Framework. It found multiple failings of the IAB Europe, fining it 250,000 EUR, and demanding it change a range of aspects of the system to ensure that, among other requirements, consent signals were valid and adhere to, and prohibiting the use of certain legal bases by its members. Academic commentators have argued that aspects of this decision point to aspects of online advertising that will be structurally difficult or impossible for the TCF alone to fix, even if it does alter, instead requiring fundamental changes in the underlying real-time bidding system. IAB Europe states it intends to appeal this ruling. The Dutch Data Protection Authority shortly after announced separately from the Belgian Data Protection Authority that Dutch agencies should stop using the system provided by IAB Europe.
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