Mild mannered, advertising industry sage Randall Rothenberg didn’t wait long to pick a fight in his new role as President, Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), and he picked a big one.
The IAB is “the trade association for interactive marketing in the United States.” It represents over 300 interactive companies and its members are responsible for selling over 86% of online advertising in the U.S.
On behalf of its members, the IAB evaluates and recommends standards and practices, conducts effectiveness research and educates marketers, media, and advertising companies about interactive marketing.
Among the 300 members: The top two online advertising sales-fueled interactive properties, Google and Yahoo search and display powerhouses.
Google top sales exec, Tim Armstrong, and Yahoo top sales exec, Wenda Harris Millard, sit on the Executive Committee of the IAB, along with IAB President Rothenberg.
What impacts online search and display advertising sales? Measurement of Web traffic and click fraud.
The IAB mission, in fact, is easily encapsulated, by the IAB itself: It is dedicated to helping online media companies “increase their revenues.”
The IAB mission explains the “Audit Challenge” made by Rothenberg to online audience measurement houses comScore and Nielsen/NetRatings last week calling for submission to: “third-party audits of their measurement processes.”
Why such a call? The IAB declares because the Interactive industry is “committed to delivering accountability, integrity in audience measurement is a fundamental necessity.”
What is the IAB membership really concerned about? “A multiplicity of reported discrepancies in audience measurements…discrepancies exist between the audience measurements of comScore and NNR and those of the server logs of the IAB's own members.”
In other IAB words, online ad sales members do not want to be short changed in ad sales revenues due to possible traffic under counting by measurement houses.
But what about online advertisers, search marketers in particular. They do not want to be over charged, by possible valid click over counting by search engines.
In Why Click Fraud is NOT case closed! I report and analyze my one-on-one discussions in New York City earlier this month with Shuman Ghosemajumder, Business Product Manager Trust & Safety, and Reggie Davis, Yahoo Vice President of Marketplace Quality, underscoring how both Google and Yahoo are seeking to turn the industry conversation about click fraud to one about click "quality."
I also spoke with the IAB’s Rothenberg last week about the Click Fraud “problem” at the Advertising Research Foundation conference. Rothenberg does not share my view that the scourge of click fraud could, potentially, disrupt the future of the multi-billion dollar search advertising market.
It is not surprising, given that the big IAB dogs in the click fraud fight are Executive Committee members Google and Yahoo, naturally aligned with the no real click fraud problem position.
Nevertheless, will Rothenberg lead a Click Fraud third-party "Audit Challenge" to his own members for the sake of the long term greater good of the interactive advertising industry?