Westminster Media Forum

Regulation of advertising tech in the UK

Morning, Tuesday, 28th January 2020

Central London


This timely seminar will consider the way forward for regulation of the adtech sector and the wider digital advertising industry in the UK.

This conference follows the publication of the ICO’s update report on adtech and real-time bidding, as well as its new guidance on the use of cookies, and takes place in the wider context of the ICO’s ongoing programme of industry engagement in this area.

Further regulatory developments include:

The agenda includes discussion on current handling practices of personal and special category data throughout the digital advertising value chain - particularly focusing on data processing and data transfers between organisations that take place as part of the real-time bidding process for online ad placement.

Delegates will consider industry practices and their compliance with GDPR stipulations - including in the areas of:

  • the specified lawful bases for data processing;
  • the completion of Data Protection Impact Assessments; and
  • the management and tracking of user consent.

In the context of the new ICO guidance on cookies, we also expect discussion on the placement of non-essential cookies in the absence of explicit user consent, and potential conflicts with PECR requirements.

We also expect discussion on wider regulatory priorities across the digital advertising market - looking at areas where further regulatory intervention may be required.

Those attending will consider the processes by which ads are targeted to particular users online - including the utilisation of biometric data and voice-recognition technology, as well as the generation and placement of machine-generated personalised advertising.

They will also discuss concerns around content regulation, including the placement of advertising next to illegal or harmful content, ad fraud, and the suitability of ads served to children and vulnerable adults.

Further sessions on the agenda assess the adtech industry’s response to regulatory concerns.

We expect discussion to focus on developing improved data-handling and achieving greater and more widespread industry compliance with GDPR and PECR - as well as mitigating the risks of data transfers in the real-time bidding process and the way forward for developing and promulgating strong industry standards and best practice.

There will be further discussion of the ICO’s future approach to sector engagement, regulation, and enforcement action in this space - with a keynote contribution from Simon McDougall, Executive Director, Technology Policy and Innovation, Information Commissioner’s Office.

Keynote Speakers

Guy Parker

Chief Executive, Advertising Standards Authority

Simon McDougall

Executive Director, Technology Policy and Innovation, Information Commissioner’s Office


Lord Taylor of Warwick


Jon Mew

Chief Executive, IAB UK

Sacha Wilson

Partner, Harbottle & Lewis