Home Online Advertising Enemy of the State: The IAB

Enemy of the State: The IAB



The unending criticism from ad industry leadership of ad exchanges, networks and their technology is an abomination.

Cut to a scene from the movie, “Network” with Yahoo!’s Carol Bartz poised in the window instead of Peter Finch.

    Carol: “I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!”

Today – the latest salvo: Chairwoman of IAB‘s Board of Directors, Wenda Millard, goes on the offensive against technologists in an Ad Age piece by Michael Learmonth.

“Ms. Millard also criticized two high-profile appointments at two of the internet’s biggest advertising companies: Microsoft and Yahoo. Microsoft appointed former Yahoo search technologist Qi Lu to head its online services group; Silicon Valley tech exec Carol Bartz is the new CEO of Yahoo, the largest publisher on the web.

“We shouldn’t let marketing decisions be made by a technologist who has never met a CMO,” she said. (Still, it could be posited that the biggest innovation in online marketing has been paid search, invented by technologists.) “

This is an amazing quote on many levels. Think of the strides made in the executive suite by women. Bartz is an example as is Millard, who shows no mercy. Even writer Learmonth winces as he adds the parenthetical phrase at the end.

Millard has made some serious coin as a founder at DoubleClick and Yahoo! exec as we recall. Guess those days are in the past: Forget the technologist no-nothings… and oh, by the way, I’m excited about MSLO‘s partnership with Yieldex and I like being a board member of Contextweb.

In Ad Age, Millard reveals a shared mentality within the old guard of the ad industry and, consequently, the IAB – that technology is bad for business. The reason it’s bad? First, it threatens the inefficient livelihood to which they are accustomed. More importantly, they don’t own the technology.

As we all know, selling, these days, isn’t about a marketer merely talking about her brand safe site to a prospective media buyer and how great it is to be on said site. Her site’s efficiency can now be quantified through technology. Horrors.

The reality is that technology helps – not hurts – and makes the process with which the old guard has been familiar the past 50 years more efficient for all parties. Of course, some of the old guard are going to lose their jobs and their power, so now they run scared when they should be leading the charge to a brave, new advertising world.


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The constant, lightning barrage of negative comments made by key members of the online advertising community are unfair, unwarranted and point to an archaic mindset that drags the advertising industry in the wrong direction.

Randall Rothenberg recently compared ad networks to “outlet malls” in a BusinessWeek written by Rob Hof who made ad networks sound like a Madoff-inspired Ponzi scheme.

Hey Rob and Randy – ad networks are the opposite of Ponzi’s core competency – they are middlemen between real buyers and sellers of online media through the use of technology. And, ad exchanges are the next step of this online advertising evolution/revolution as they provide more transparency and, consequently greater efficiency for all parties involved – a future that includes networks as super traders on the exchange.

How can Rothenberg, the leader of an industry council that includes ad networks and exchanges, treat some of his membership so poorly? (Note: The IAB is fortunate to receive the sponsorship dollars that it does from ad networks and exchanges.)

The big name ad agencies and publishers of the IAB who beat their chests – and who Rothenberg obviously favors – need to be told to take their medicine and accept technology, ad networks and exchanges as partners not pariahs.

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