If you’ve been in digital advertising for a while, then you’re most likely familiar with the IAB. For those of you who don’t know, the IAB is not some international intelligence agency or alien research bureau.

The “IAB” stands for “Interactive Advertising Bureau.” Whenever there’s anything important happening in the digital advertising industry, you can be sure that the IAB is a part of it.

But what is this mysterious organization and why is it important? You’ll find those answers below, in addition to the importance of IAB categories/taxonomy to mobile advertising.

Key Takeaways on the Importance of IAB in Digital Advertising

  1. Defining the IAB: The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) is pivotal in the digital advertising landscape, focusing on developing industry standards, conducting research, and offering legal support to ensure the digital economy thrives.
  2. Self-Regulation and Standards: While not a regulatory authority, the IAB plays a crucial role in self-regulating the digital advertising industry, ensuring compliance with best practices and legal standards globally.
  3. Education and Guidance: Through seminars, webinars, and publications, the IAB educates and provides invaluable resources to professionals in the digital advertising field, fostering industry growth and innovation.
  4. Quality Assurance Guidelines Taxonomy: The IAB categories/taxonomy system classifies mobile ads, promoting transparency for buyers and sellers and ensuring ads are appropriately targeted and relevant.
  5. Trust and Integrity: Adhering to IAB guidelines enhances trust and integrity within the digital advertising ecosystem, akin to the role the FDA plays in the food industry.
  6. Quality Control: IAB’s taxonomy aids in maintaining high-quality standards in mobile advertising, reducing the prevalence of irrelevant or spammy ads and ensuring a better user experience.
  7. Brand Safety: The IAB’s efforts in quality assurance and guidelines create a safer, more trustworthy environment for big brands to invest in digital advertising, thus driving industry growth and benefiting consumers.

The IAB’s Role In Digital Advertising

The IAB doesn’t exist to lay down and enforce laws.

Companies in the digital advertising industry police themselves, and all advertising has to abide by the laws of the United States Federal Trade Commission or the countries where the ads are served.

The IAB develops industry standards, conducts research on digital advertising trends, and provides legal support for the digital advertising industry. In their words, the IAB “empowers the media and marketing industries to thrive in the digital economy.” Simply put, the IAB provides guidance, education, and standardization to the digital advertising industry.

The IAB works alongside “650 leading media and technology companies that are responsible for selling, delivering, and optimizing digital advertising or marketing campaigns.” These companies are some of the most influential companies in the world. The IAB frequently holds seminars, conferences, webinars, and publishes content that educates marketers and business professionals who have a role in digital advertising.

Without the IAB, there would be a lack of quality, integrity, and efficiency in digital advertising, which brings us to the next question.

What Are IAB Categories/Taxonomy?

What we know as IAB categories, IAB calls “Quality Assurance Guidelines Taxonomy.”

Mobile ads are categorized according to IAB’s taxonomy. This helps serve the right ads to the right people in the right places. It gives buyers greater transparency and sellers a better way to describe and classify their inventory.

According to the IAB, the taxonomy “was developed in consultation with taxonomy experts from academia, ad measurement companies, and members of the IAB Networks & Exchanges Committee.”

IAB Taxonomy

IAB taxonomy chart.

Why Do IAB Categories/Taxonomy Matter?

So why do we care about IAB categories/taxonomy? Why does it matter if we follow their Quality Assurance Guidelines?

Reason #1 – Trust & Integrity: If you’re a buyer of advertising or a seller of advertising space, you want to trust who you’re buying from or selling to. You have a business to run, and you don’t want anyone compromising that, especially with their sketchy ads or inventory. With their Quality Assurance Guidelines, the IAB plays the role that the FDA plays in the food industry. Anything that has IAB’s stamp of approval is quality.

From the perspective of a demand-side platform, we want to be trustworthy to our partners and publishers. When we’re actively taking measures to ensure that toxic ads don’t move through the mobile advertising ecosystem, and when we align ourselves with the values and guidelines set forth by the IAB, we build trust with the companies and publishers we do business with. That stamp of trust helps us grow and provide more opportunities for our customers to advertise. It’s a win-win situation.

Reason #2 – Quality Control: Mobile advertising without quality control measures would be the spammiest industry on the face of the Earth. People already have this perception of mobile ads. IAB categories/taxonomy feed into the targeting power of mobile advertising. As we all know, a non-contextual, non-targeted mobile ad is an ad that no one wants to see. With IAB categories/taxonomy, the likelihood of a consumer seeing a mobile ad that’s spammy or non-relevant is reduced significantly.

Demand-side platforms and advertising exchanges work together to tag mobile ad campaigns with a relevant IAB category as they are submitted. Some publishers block certain categories, so tagging ads with IAB categories ensures that publishers don’t receive unwanted ads and advertisers’ ads are placed in the right context.

Reason #3 – Brands: Big brands have influence over a lot. Big brands won’t get involved in anything they don’t trust. Therefore, quality assurance guidelines are in place to make sure digital advertising as a whole is “brand-safe.” It’s the “You know it’s good if a brand is using it” mentality that forces organizations like the IAB to create stringent guidelines and best practices. With more brands involved in digital advertising, the industry grows exponentially and everyone benefits, especially consumers.