Can we meet the Government’s challenge?

Andy Burnham, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media & Sport, has set the online industry a challenge. In a keynote speech to the IAB’s flagship Engage event yesterday afternoon, Burnham said that the Government was fully behind the UK online advertising industry and would do all it could to maintain it as a world leader.

But he also stressed the importance of ensuring that safeguards are in place to enable users – particularly children– to successfully navigate and feel comfortable in the online world. For the online world, Burnham said that – unlike other areas of life – hethought the“stakes in the ground are not quite there yet, that is something we need to address together”.

Burnham confirmed what we”ve known for some time: the Government doesn’t think that the internet is ungovernable. However, he said we should be “first thinking about self-regulation”. This is important: he is asking the online advertising sector to step-up to the plate and act like a ‘grown-up’ industry.

He recognises the complexities of the online world (although doesn’t pretendthat heunderstands them) and believes that a self-regulatory approach is the most appropriate way to balancing online creativity and innovation with protecting users/consumers.

At the IAB, we welcome this and we’re ready to meet this challenge. We have already established a positive track record in self-regulatory initiatives. For example, we’re working to improve the self-regulatory framework for advertising content to make it more relevant to today’s digital world; and we’ve taken steps to reduce inappropriate website content (and protect brands) via a world-first Code to vet display advertising.

As I’ve mentioned here before, the IAB is also developing self-regulatory Good Practice Principles to protect user privacy around behavioural advertising.

So our challenge is very clear: we need toensure that we put those stakes in the groundand ensure that (online) advertising remains – as Burnham says – “one of the flagships around the world for British creativity”.

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    ‘Yes, We Can!”