IAB Arena: The New Advertising Supply Chain

The digital advertising ecosystem has often been opportunistically portrayed with excessively complex diagrams featuring hundreds of logos and arrows indicating multiple flows and directions. These maps justify financial interests in the many different sub-sectors of digital marketing technology, to the benefit of bankers, but are detrimental to marketers, brands, and agencies. They are simply unhelpful at showing the actual flow of messages from brands to consumers.

The IAB Arena is designed to illustrate, from a marketer’s perspective, how advertising messages are delivered to consumers in the vibrant and ever-expanding ecosystem of digital advertising. Yes, it is complicated—significantly more so than analog media, but it is not so foreign as to be unrecognizable to the trained marketer. Each additional layer merely adds new capabilities to help agencies, publishers, and marketers apply their skills more effectively.


The IAB Arena depicts the ecosystem with six rings, each representing a distinct activity area, encircling the brand upon which all actions are centered. The six areas of activity are: Media Planning and Buying, Content Creators, Media Vendors, Execution Technologies, Media Enhancements, and Business Intelligence. Each of these areas is then broken down into sub-segments of activity.

For a detailed description of the IAB Arena, including the rings and sub-segments, click here.



Watch how the IAB Arena is built

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