Interactive Advertising Bureau
02 September 2020

IAB Europe Policy Update - Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Online Advertising and IPR

Welcome to the new 'Policy Update' blog series from Greg Mroczkowski, Director, Public Policy at IAB Europe .

In this new series, I will be sharing the latest policy developments related to our industry so IAB Europe members remain informed and know how to get involved.

In our first update, I wanted to provide members with an update on the developments concerning the Follow-the-Money approach, as well as the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Online Advertising and IPR.

IAB Europe’s members do not disseminate illegal content online. Unfortunately though, advertising can inadvertently finance the dissemination of illegal content online by providing revenue to properties that engage in such dissemination. This informs the fact that an important task for our members is to try significantly minimise this inadvertent funding, or tackle the so-called “ad misplacement” challenge. IAB Europe has taken the challenge of misplacement most seriously, engaging over the years in European Commission-driven discussions about the ‘follow-the-money’ approach. These EU-level discussions led to signing off the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Online Advertising and IPR in June 2018, to which we remain deeply committed.

Mid-August  saw the release of a Commission’s report on the functioning of the MoU, along with a study monitoring the impact of the MoU on the digital advertising market. There are signs of positive trends, which we read as encouraging and a proof that our investment in the ‘follow-the-money’ approach pays off. We remain committed to driving the uptake of the MoU instrument, and as such we encourage our members to become signatories. These efforts sit well in the broader ‘brand safety’ agenda of the industry. Looking into the future, the learnings from the MoU are also informing our views on the Digital Service Act (DSA).

Report on the functioning of the MoU on Online Advertising and IPR

The Commission published the report on 14 August. It acknowledges the positive role of the digital advertising industry, and the collective proactive efforts on the matter in question undertaken by the ecosystem.

The report does reference findings of the study commissioned to WhiteBullet, that provides for an indication of the extent and nature of the advertising on IPR-infringing websites in the EU. The scope of the study does cover both illegal as well as high-risk websites, and the study looks at the situation before and after the signing of the MoU. Some of the metrics reported on include:

  • 12% decrease in the average number of ads collected per visit to IPR-infringing websites following the introduction of the MoU;
  • decrease in advertising by major brands in the gambling sector, down from 62% to 50%;
  • downward trend in the proportion of ads collected from major brands attributable to EU brands, from 93% to 75%;
  • similar tendency in the proportion of ad path detection attributed to EU ad intermediaries, from 28% to 22%.

In conclusion, the report underlines signatories’ views about the MoU promoting good practice and operating satisfactorily further to efforts undertaken by market participants. The factual results are highlighted again, with acknowledgement of signatories’ feedback on continuing the MoU efforts in the existing framework.

Next steps

A meeting of the MoU signatories will be held on 25 September. It envisages a recap of the published report, and a presentation of main results of the study by WhiteBullet.

Moreover, White Bullet will also share preliminary results of the second study, which aims to (i) evaluate the amount and type of online advertising displayed on IPR-infringing websites, (ii) estimate the ad revenues collected by IPR-infringing website owners, and (iii) analyse the impact and effectiveness of the MoU on the online advertising market.

Finally, the Commission intends to organise a discussion to explore how the current crisis has potentially impacted the placement of ads on IPR-infringing websites and mobile applications (e.g. new trends and fraud patterns, new ways of cooperation between the demand side and the supply side to prevent such placements).

For any questions or further information on the above, please contact me at

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