About us

Who we are and how we work

About ISBA

ISBA is the only body that represents brand owners advertising in the UK. We empower them to understand the industry and shape its future because we bring together a powerful community of marketers with common interests; lead decision-making with knowledge and insight; and give a single voice to advocacy for the improvement of the industry.

Our purpose and principles

To create an advertising environment that is transparent, responsible and accountable; one that can be trusted by the public, by advertisers and by legislators.

ISBA will:

  • Empower media, agency and digital supply chain relationships that deliver value for advertisers transparently and sustainably.
  • Lead the industry in creating an inclusive and sustainable advertising environment that delivers positive societal and economic impact.
  • Deliver thought leadership and actionable learning, advice and guidance, working with our community of members and with partners.

View our 2024 Priorities here.

Our Big Audacious Goal

  • Successfully launch Origin in 2024 as a global prototype to meet the WFA’s Industry Principles.

If you'd like to know more about Origin, our cross-media measurement project, head to the website here.

ISBA Lunch 2023

Our role in the industry

ISBA is a member of the Advertising Association and represents advertisers on the Committee of Advertising Practice and the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice, sister organisations of the Advertising Standards Association, which are responsible for writing the Advertising Codes. We are also members of the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA). We can use our leadership role in such bodies to set and promote high industry standards as well as a robust self-regulatory regime. 

ISBA members also have access to the WFA's programme of webinars, to access this benefit, please contact membership@isba.org.uk

See an infographic on how ISBA represents members across a range of organisations

See an infographic on how ISBA operates in the industry landscape here.

The World Federation of Advertisers (WFA)

Much of the WFA agenda is dependent on the involvement of key national associations such as ISBA and ANA.  Such associations inform WFA policy and drive principles into in-market action for their individual territories.  Being a member of ISBA enables UK brands to feed into global principles and initiatives. 

UK specific examples of how the UK are leading on global initiatives include:

•    Origin: UK global prototype, informed WFA framework, co-chairs global components steering with ANA 
•    GARM: ISBA sits on SteerCo because of extensive online harms advocacy and regulatory experience 
•    2021 Media Services Framework: practical multi-market tools 
•    Programmatic Supply Chain Study (and support of ANA RfP): granular examination of in-market supply chain, with advertiser benchmarking and recommendations 
•    Diversity: UK piloted Census 
•    Climate: UK led and informed WFA programme 
 

Advocacy and representation

We have been leading progress in a number of vital areas for advertisers, including:

  • Advancing a global first for accountable digital and cross-media measurement, in which advertisers, agencies, platforms and media owners are all taking an active stake;
  • Leading the reform of the programmatic supply chain, on the back of our ground-breaking study with PwC, which examined the spending of 15 major advertisers with 12 premium publishers;
  • Working with the World Federation of Advertisers and the Global Alliance for Responsible Media to create a sustainable and responsible digital media environment;
  • Responding to the pandemic in 2020 on multiple fronts: working with broadcasters to create greater flexibility in trading; preventing government intervention in the use of keyword blocking; and developing provisions in industry production contracts to re-start advertising production;
  • Shaping the industry response to the government's proposed advertising restrictions for products high in fat, sugar or salt.

Each of these is of critical importance to our members in growing their businesses and their brands.

In addition, we continue to engage with regulators and legislators on  every subject that touches advertisers and marketers. From tackling online harms to embedding digital literacy, from promoting evidence-led policy solutions to addressing the issue of trust in our industry, we speak to policymakers with one voice on behalf of our members.

For more information, see the Public Affairs section in our Knowledge Hub. 

Social responsibility

Accountability is a key principle for ISBA, within our industry and in its impact on our society. Here, our positive contribution includes:

Inclusion

As well as internal policies on ensuring we consider diversity in all recruitment decision-making, we are also actively involved in ensuring advertising is representative of a diverse society through our Diversity and Inclusion Network, our membership of the Unstereotype Alliance and our cross-industry collaboration with other trade bodies led by the Advertising Association.

Finally, we are accredited by the Living Wage which means we go beyond the government minimum wage and ensure that their employees earn a wage that meets the costs of living.

ISBA also supports the All In campaign - an industry-wide initiative to ensure that everyone with a role in UK advertising feels they belong.

Sustainability

ISBA is a founding member of Ad Net Zero – the advertising industry’s drive to reduce the carbon impact of developing, producing and running advertising to real net zero – and a founding partner of AdGreen – a bespoke carbon calculator for advertising production. 

As an organisation ISBA is a signatory of the United Nations Race to Zero campaign, which includes a commitment to halve emissions by 2030, and achieve net zero by 2050. ISBA has also signed the WFA Planet Pledge, a global commitment to make marketing teams a force for positive change both internally and with the consumers who buy their products and services. ISBA has also launched a new member-led working, the Sustainability Forum, to understand the questions, concerns and barriers that ISBA members face in moving their advertising operations toward net zero. The outputs will help to inform ISBA’s position on issues of environmental sustainability and climate change. The group will serve as a forum for feedback between ISBA members and wider industry initiatives. 

Advertisers of all sizes, along with their advertising agencies, media owners and platforms, need to decarbonise their operations rapidly and help promote the adoption of more sustainable products and services. Advertisers, agencies, and every company in our industry share the responsibility to make this happen. We share the urgency of many industry colleagues – we are not defenders of the status quo. 

We asked Saïd Business School at Oxford University to examine and evaluate the impact advertising has – both positive and negative – on people’s choices and on the emissions associated with those choices. We asked them to apply their best academic thinking to marketing attribution and carbon accounting. Said’s report does not support the Advertised Emissions methodology put forward by Purpose Disruptors. It describes how applying their use of the principles of the ‘Financed Emissions’ framework from the finance industry to the advertising industry is a ‘significant accounting error’ that ‘creates a… false equivalence.’   

More detail on our shared view on this, with the IPA and the Advertising Association, is available here.  

We are in the process of taking the learnings from the Said Business School report and collaborating with partners to consider alternative options to the Advertised Emissions methodology. This work is being progressed as and we are looking to sharing the outcomes of it with our members and the wider industry at the earliest available opportunity.  

Young People

We are supporters of Media Smart, a not-for-profit company that creates free educational materials for schools and youth organisations, for teachers, parents and guardians, to help young people think critically about the advertising they come across in their daily lives.

http://mediasmart.uk.com/

Responsible Advertising

Advertising affects society in several ways.

We are members of the Global Alliance for Responsible Media (GARM). Being part of GARM means ISBA can learn from global experience and play a part in solutions. In turn, we aim better to educate our members to make more informed media choices for their brands.

We are supporters of the Conscious Advertising Network (CAN) who work to ensure that advertisers consider the ethics and social impact of their activity.

https://www.consciousadnetwork.com/

 

 

Our history

ISBA has been working for advertisers since 1891, when seven advertisers protesting dubious newspaper circulation figures got together. They needed to know how effective their advertising was and how many people were actually seeing the ads they paid for. The call was for "net sales" not pulp circulation.

The Advertisers’ Protection Society (APS), the original name of ISBA, was formally established in 1900, which makes ISBA the oldest advertiser organisation in the world.

The APS took it upon itself to work out the number of newspapers being sold and was subsequently taken to court, charged with libel. It won its case, setting the industry on the road to audited media measurement.

Key Dates

1900

The APS is formally established

1920

The APS, became the Incorporated Society of British Advertisers

1931

ISBA founded the Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC)

1966

Together with the other bodies that made up the Advertising Association, ISBA helped form the Advertising Standards Authority to make self-regulation of the industry a reality.

2002

ISBA were instrumental in encouraging the Government to extend the self-regulatory system to the broadcast arena.

2003

ISBA is fundamental in introducing Contract Rights Renewal (CRR) to stop ITV abusing its dominant position with advertisers.

2018

ISBA launched version two of the Media Services Framework which was updated after consultation with members and importantly the agencies.

2020

The advertiser-funded ISBA Programmatic Supply Chain Transparency Study is launched, becoming the first study of its kind in the world.

ISBA lunch