Sunday, June 29, 2008

An open letter to IAB Australia

So Paul Fisher starts at IAB Australia as their first full time CEO on Tuesday (July 1)

This is an exciting time as it marks the first time the IAB locally seem to have taken their role particularly seriously. Having a part time leader for more than 2 years was a joke and I think the inaction of the IAB locally to date will make it tough for the next incarnation.

However, I want to see the IAB work. By work, I mean add value to all stakeholders ...

- marketers
- agencies
- publishers
- government
- other media (FTA, STA, radio, OOH etc)

What are the key areas the IAB needs to address to become relevant?

1. Tell us what you are about

What is the IAB about locally? Who does it represent and what role does it play? What is its purpose and goals? Right now, I don't think anyone knows the answer to this ... and it's the first thing that needs to be determined.

2. Set proper guidelines around specs and reporting

The IAB high fived eachother back in 2005 when they came out saying they had nailed standardised ad units ... erm ... only across the major 5 portals ... erm, but not really as there's still loads of special ad units on each and some don't accept tracking on certain areas of the site and there's still anomolies around mute buttons, close buttons, borders, frame rates etc. So in reality it's no easier now than it was then to place campaigns across a variety of sites.

We also have some publishers on audited external reporting platforms, some not, and a lot of audience tweaking to agencies and marketers. Add to this no publicised standards across Mobile, Video, Podcasts etc voiced by the IAB and it's clear there's a fair bit of work to do here.

3. Offer real insights and research

Right now Insights and Research are limited to the IAB PWC report ... which is, in all honesty, completely useless for 99% of those it's intended for. It helps those who need to, say, forecast revenue growth (ie biz dev guys, sales directors, business directors), but it provides no analysis as to WHY certain things are happening or future predictions. Yes, it's a nice reflection of the spend to date ... but it doesn't help anyone.

The IAB current has no position on anything - they don't even have an active blog. Why aren't they offering a voice ... a leadership voice? In terms of measurement evolution ... we aren't seeing anything from the IAB to show how digital impacts on metrics such as PURCHASE and INTENT. Why? How areas like Social Media help solve problems, what video offers, how search and display work together ... the best research right now is coming out of agencies - through necessity. Insights and research are being driven again by agencies.

4. Lobby the wider marketing community

One key task of the IAB is to create a FreeTV type body that lobbies on behalf of the industry - accumulates case studies, works with other lobby groups to share knowledge and insight. It needs to do what is needed to have big marketers as advocates of the medium. It needs to break down the notion that digital media is some sort of acronym heavy confusing vortex and show simply how it can be used to meet objectives. And what can be done to help this ...

5. Events and Training

The only real event we get now is the IAB Awards - which in 2008 was an expensive meal with bad drinks waiters and a cranky newsreader host where some of the industry got together and caught up. There is tremendous opportunity for the IAB to take a leadership role in offering training and demistifying things like analytics, brand v performance, measurement etc ... like Randal Rothenberg and his team does in the US. It could have forums around emerging technologies and issues - measurement, mobile, DM, UGC etc

6. Sort out our reporting issues

The tools we have available to us to measure how people are using the net are stuck in the 90's. We can't measure ..

- search volume
- video streams
- mobile site usage
- any site that has <50k users

... amongst other things. So, whilst the users have evolved, the measurement hasn't. And it's causing issues in agency land - as it makes getting audited data on high quality, lower audience properties very difficult. The new measurement system needs to be similar to a Quantcast than anything Nielsen has thrown out in this market to date, we need a tool we can use that will offer value, insight and direction to decisions.

The IAB also needs to lobby Roy Morgan HARD as their measurement of digital channels is beyond embarassing. For the largest panel in AU to measure online the way they do is crazy. We shouldn't have to settle for dated, flawed measurement systems in digital and for the industry to grow and prosper this needs to improve now.

7. Represent the interests of all publishers

... not just the big 5. I predict within 3 years the big 5 will be lucky to occupy over 35% of the display market. What will drive the category will be sites outside of the main publishers. This is not to say they are niche - they are moreso specialty plays that focus on one area and have a strong audience. The IAB needs to be careful it represents these sites as equally as it does the big 5 as, again, this is what will drive industry growth. Clients I speak to - over 50% of them - are requesting placements outside of the portals ... they are beginning to understand the value of an engaged audience and really understanding that reach isn't everything, especially on the web.

Good luck Fish, lets see IAB drive the dialogue instead of being a silent body.

1 comment:

Zac Zavos said...

Well stated; and a big vote for point 7: Represent the interests of all publishers.