The IAB is looking to move beyond its role as a cheerleader for digital with the establishment of a new client committee, designed to identify and address the issues facing marketers in digital advertising.
“We felt we needed to take a more responsible, wider industry role,” says IAB chief executive Adrian Pickstock.
“The days of chest-beating about the size of the internet are over. We felt we needed to collaborate more closely with the wider industry, be it brands, agencies, publishers or ad tech.”
This is the third committee the IAB has launched, adding to the publisher and agency committees established a number of years ago.
“We don’t want this to be a talkfest between the three councils,” says Pickstock. “We want open discussion in the market. This is about blowing some of the smoke away from the mirrors.”
The establishment of the new committee was spearheaded by BNZ media digital director Nick Boulstridge, who tells StopPress it was important to create an environment where clients could meet to talk freely about the major issues they see in the industry.
Toyota, Air New Zealand, Genesis Energy, The Warehouse, Samsung, Flight Centre, Foodstuffs, Restaurant Brands, BNZ, Mitre 10 and Lion Nathan have signed on as the founding members of the committee.
ANZA chief executive Lindsay Mouat has also accepted an invitation from the IAB to sit on the committee as an independent arbiter.
“All the members are non-competing, which means that they can speak freely without conflict,” says Boulstridge.
Boulstridge explains that an important aspect of the committee will be to allow for the marketers to share knowledge to ensure the right questions are being asked of agencies.
He says there’s sometimes a level of insecurity among marketers who fear being perceived as ignorant and therefore they avoid asking questions that might otherwise be legitimate.
“A big part of this will be about letting marketers know it’s okay to ask those questions.”
On a broader industry level, the committee could also serve as an influential voice in terms of what constitutes best practice in the industry.
If 11 major brands have something to say, then the industry will take note. One need only look at the impact Marc Pritchard’s speeches have had internationally to understand that clients still play an important role in determining what is expected of both agencies and publishers.
New Zealand has until now not had a Pritchard-like figure willing to stick their neck out and openly challenge publishers and agencies.
Perhaps, the anonymity offered by the committee will allow for marketers to air thoughts or opinions they would otherwise be hesitant to express under the name of a brand.
There’s also strength in unity. If a group of powerful brands take unified action, then this is more likely to influence the activities of agencies and—sometimes—even the global giants operating in this market.
For instance, when brand safety issues were exposed on YouTube, all it took was a collective of powerful brands to pull their ad spend to force Google into changing its policies on the site.
Right now, there is arguably no bigger issue than transparency plaguing the industry, and it’s something all the brands on the committee will be concerned about.
Pickstock says that addressing the transparency issues in the market will be one of the first items on the agenda when the committee starts to meet.
“We definitely want to address the transparency issues in the market, and we want to do that in an open manner,” Pickstock says.
“It’s not about being punitive to any agency [or publisher], but rather about doing what’s best for the industry. We want to hear a perspective from the brands, but then also get the counter-view from the agencies and publishers.”
The aim is to eventually shift these discussions from the committees to events, during which keynote speakers can address any of the issues raised.
While these events might not revolutionise the industry immediately, they will at least provide a platform for marketers to publicly air concerns and discuss a possible range of solutions.