The Great Budget Chase.

by Doug Weaver on April 16, 2014 at 9:06AM

The Great Budget ChaseSince The Drift is primarily aimed at the sell side of our industry, I tend not to get very many comments from ad agency execs.  But I’m hoping what I write today will ring true with agency leaders and that a few of them might take the time to respond.  If you feel so moved, perhaps you’ll forward this to someone who runs an agency or a major account to see what they think.

The subject today is budgets.  Most of the sellers and sales organizations I work with are in constant pursuit of the digital ad (or mobile or video or DR) budget.  Media planners are constantly saying “we haven’t gotten the budget from the client yet.”  After a short silence, we hear that the elusive budget has arrived, but is far smaller than anticipated and has already been allocated.  The seller then balls up his fists and curses either the fates or the duplicity of the agency.  But I think both the approach and the reaction are ill-considered and cheap.

This week’s Drift is proudly underwritten by Bionic Advertising Systems, an advertising technology company focused on delivering innovative software that streamlines and automates media workflow for marketers, their advertising agencies, and publishers.

Instead, let’s look at it from the agency’s perspective.  Relatively few sellers put in much time and effort before the budget is set and the planning process is in full swing.  A few of us will “check in” from time to time:  Any budget yet?  No?  OK, I’ll check back later.  Others will quiz each other at events or on Seller Crowd with questions like Does anybody know if a budget’s been set on the AT&T Wireless business yet?  As soon as a budget does materialize, sellers begin to swarm like so many five-year-old soccer players around the ball.  Now that you have the money and are as busy as you’re going to be all year, how about seeing me and hearing my story?  

For every thousand sales people who show up to help an agency spend an existing budget, only one or two ever talk about helping the agency grow budgets or tap into new ones.

The dirty secret is that many media agencies operate on razor thin margins. The way they get healthy is by getting existing clients to spend more with them than initially planned.  Sellers are in a great position to help them if we just step out of the box and start to think creatively about all the budgets and pools of funding that are in play today.  Shopper Marketing.  Promotion.  Retail Co-Op.  Compliance.  Research.  Public Relations.  Branded Entertainment.  Social.  Video.  Mobile.  There’s a guerilla war going on among agencies, consulting firms and other service providers who are constantly raiding one another to steal away budgets through creativity and guile.

If you want to change the way you’re seen by a key agency, reach out to a senior executive and tell her that you’ve got an idea that you think may drive additional spending by one of her clients.  Also tell her that your organization is prepared to run the program or capability so that the agency doesn’t have to put any real staff time against it.

Now you sound like someone worth meeting.  Now you sound like profit.

Interested in the immediate future of digital video?  The next Upstream Seller Forum is happening on Tuesday June 24th in New York.  If you’re a CRO, EVP, SVP or VP of sales and sell to agencies and clients, let us know you’re interested and we’ll tell you more. 

Say the Words.

by Doug Weaver on April 9, 2014 at 12:25PM

Say the WordsFor the sales teams I work with, the list of symptoms is remarkably consistent:  long, unstable sales cycles; buyers going radio silent after receiving proposals; small deal sizes; low close rates; too many small ‘tests’ that lead nowhere; lack of pipeline visibility ; weak forecasting.

Sound familiar?  The symptoms are so consistent because they all stem from the same disease.  Your sellers aren’t closing.  This may sound simplistic, and your senior sellers might even take exception with my diagnosis, but look a little closer and you’ll see that I’ve actually got it right.

This week’s Drift is proudly underwritten by Bionic Advertising Systems, an advertising technology company focused on delivering innovative software that streamlines and automates media workflow for marketers, their advertising agencies, and publishers.

Closing isn’t a cliché, nor is it just a general attitude or posture on a sales call.  It’s a very specific event within the discussion; a direct question that either does or doesn’t get asked.  But rather than guess about whether your sellers are closing or taking their word for it, take this simple test.

  1. When you ask your team members about their upcoming sales calls, do they often use words like education and evangelism?
  2. Do they talk about seeing how the customer feels about the program or opportunity?
  3. Is the program or package in question usually attached directly to an urgent business problem?
  4. Does it have a specific expiration date attached to it?
  5. Is there a specific dollar figure attached to your recommendation? (Instead of just a range of options and levels.)

If your answers tended toward yes, yes, no, no and no, then you’ve got a closing problem.  Your seller is choosing (consciously or otherwise) a comfortable, non-confrontational conclusion to the meeting.  They’re telling the customer to please consider it or lamely offering to touch base again soon to see what you guys want to do.  They’re saying anything and everything besides asking the question that will improve all your business metrics.  Will you buy this from us?

Here’s an exercise you can do with your team that will start to immediately improve the situation.  As your sellers prepare to go on their next sales calls, ask Exactly what are we asking this customer to do?  and What’s the specific price tag or estimate you’re going to give them?   Now sit down across from your seller and role play:  have them ask you for the order in the exact words they would use with the client.  Is this going to be an uncomfortable moment?  Absolutely.  But if they can’t say the words to you, they damn sure can’t say them to the customer.

Comfortable, inconclusive meetings are a luxury you can no longer afford.  Ask your sellers the hard questions today so they can start asking your buyers hard questions tomorrow.  And be sure to let me know how it goes.

Fool’s Gold.

by Doug Weaver on April 1, 2014 at 8:35AM

Fools GoldApril Fools day had always been such a kick.  A little fun and whimsy to break up the late winter gloom.  But now, today, it’s just another day.  No fun and brightness, just more gloom.  You see, today, April 1st, 2014 is the first day of the rest of our lives without Eat24 on Facebook.

Please.  Just give me a minute.

Yes, you heard correctly.  The favorite startup of spoiled urban foodies with too much discretionary income and not enough energy to get off the couch (think of Uber for gourmet chicken and waffles )– the one most of us never heard of until yesterday – has very publicly broken up with Facebook.  In 1,312 snarky, self-referential words, Eat24 complained extensively about everything from Facebook’s changing algorithms to – horror of horrors! – its naked desire to make money.  (What the letter lacks in brevity and precision it makes up for with inclusiveness and incomprehensibility:  it includes a freakish LOL cat, a star wars reference and advice that Facebook needs to be more like the dormant 1996 website for the movie Spacejam.)  Bottom line: as of midnight, Eat24 was shutting down its Facebook presence.

This week’s Drift is proudly underwritten by Bionic Advertising Systems, an advertising technology company focused on delivering innovative software that streamlines and automates media workflow for marketers, their advertising agencies, and publishers.

Folks, this is the marketing story of the year!  But not for the reasons you might think.  The actual “dispute” about Facebook’s algorithms is a red herring.  Yet news organizations from The New York Times to CNN to Business Insider rushed to report on this “event” as a harbinger and flashpoint for the coming marketer rebellion against Facebook.  (Full disclosure:  in 2012 Facebook was a client of mine, and I have both a personal account and a company Facebook presence.  Further disclosure:  I have my own issues with Facebook, but who doesn’t?)

Here’s the real story.  Eat24 and many more “marketers” have simply been jobbing the Facebook system for years.  They may fancy themselves some kind of content producer, but they are really just another parasitic startup nesting in the social environment Facebook has created from nothing.  They claim that the ROI with Facebook just isn’t there anymore, which begs an interesting question:  how can you complain about ROI when there was no “I” in the first place?   So Facebook flipped the switch and Eat24 pulled the plug.  End of story, right?

Oh no.  Here’s why it’s the marketing story of the year.  Eat24 found another system to job:  the press.  The business press just can’t resist a juicy “story” like this, especially when it feeds a pre-existing narrative (in this case, the twin narratives of “Facebook is arrogant and clueless” and “Facebook is the new Yahoo!”)   As much as I want to hate Eat24 for its smug tone and superficiality (no one over age 12 should ever use the term “besties”) I must give them a tip of the hipster fedora.  They played their hand beautifully.  Their strategy ended up being native, viral and – based on the lockstep, uncritical response of the “business press” – virtually programmatic.

Happy April Fools Day.  We’ve all been punked.

The Wolf of Madison Avenue.

by Doug Weaver on March 25, 2014 at 7:44PM

The Wolf of Madison AvenueBack on February 10th I wrote a post from the floor of the IAB Annual Leadership Meeting all about “The F Word.”  That F Word, of course, being “Fraud.”   Seemingly out of nowhere, the topic came to dominate the conversation.  We stopped using polite-sounding code words like “transparency” and “openness” and finally started calling our shared addiction by its real name.  But that was just one industry insider conference, right?  Not much could come of that.

Until this week.  Now Fraud is the new black.

On Sunday, Suzanne Vranica’s article (“A Crisis in Online Ads:  One Third of Traffic is Bogus”) hit the pages of The Wall Street Journal.  And just yesterday, Ad Age published “Digital Ad Fraud is Rampant.  Here’s Why So Little Has Been Done About It” by Alex Kantrowitz.  Can a spirited debate on The View be far off?

This week’s Drift is proudly underwritten by Evidon MCM, marketing cloud management software for large enterprises. Powered by more than 20 million Ghostery users, Evidon provides large websites with transparency to see and control the vendors that have access to their customer data and their online assets.

But lest we think this is just a bad news cycle or a problem we can conveniently blame on Russian mobsters (Seriously:  they’re in the mix.  Really!) it’s time we all grew up and admitted to the gravity of the problem and what got us here in the first place.  Sure, one could argue that this little Internet of ours has done pretty well.  $50 billion is nothing to sneeze at.  But it’s an empire built at least in part on drug money.  We may not be in the dacha with Ivan and Dmitri, but we’re the ones who have turned a blind eye to the situation; the ones who politely avoided the hard questions.

And our collective margin call couldn’t come at a worse time.  With brand advertisers, things are just starting to tip, and the future of video advertising is very much a jump ball.  At just this moment we give every one of those marketers a reason to hold back a few years longer – or maybe forever.

What to do?  Read the articles. Educate yourself.  Have an opinion.  And realize that a line is being drawn between those who are the problem and those who are the solution.  If you buy from thieves – wittingly or not – then you are on the wrong side of that line.  We’ve met the Wolf of Madison Avenue, and too often he is us.

How We Interview…and Why It Sucks.

by Doug Weaver on March 19, 2014 at 1:58PM

How We InterviewIf human talent is the killer app in our industry, why do we suck so badly at attracting, evaluating and retaining the best people?  And how does a flawed candidate manage to slip through the interviewing gauntlet that you and the rest of your management and HR team have set up?  Clearly these are huge topics worthy of books, not blog posts.  But I’ve never met a topic that I couldn’t try to oversimplify, so here goes:

Your interviewing process is misguided, your execution is awful and you’re focusing on all the wrong things.  But please, let me elaborate…

This week’s Drift is proudly underwritten by Evidon MCM, marketing cloud management software for large enterprises. Powered by more than 20 million Ghostery users, Evidon provides large websites with transparency to see and control the vendors that have access to their customer data and their online assets.

Interviews are Not about Fact-finding:  Make your minimum standards on skills and experience clear to your HR team or recruiter.  Then leave the candidate’s resume in your desk.  Too many interviews end up being about the facts on the page (“…so you worked at AOL?”)  You’re wasting a lot of time confirming data points, which could be better spent on higher order discussion.

Focus Instead on Understanding the Candidate’s Process:

  • Tell me about an important deal or achievement at your last company:  what would not have happened if you hadn’t been part of it?
  • Tell me about the last time you had to deliver really bad news to a customer:  how did you handle it and where did things end up?
  • Tell me about a time when you’ve had to manage conflict with someone in your organization:  were you able to turn the situation around?

Seek Beliefs and Core Values:  The best hires and most-durable employee relationships are always built on the overlap between what a candidate believes and what the company stands for.  But we learn very little about what our candidates truly believe because we don’t ask.

  • Tell me something you believe in very strongly that’s not about religion or family.
  • Looking out at the next 10-15 years of our industry, what’s a trend or behavior that you’re bet your career on?

Stop Acting Like Lawyers:  (Please no hate mail from the Bar Association.) If you ask a dozen lawyers to review a document or agreement, each will find something to disagree with or object to.  Likewise, if you subject your candidate to a dozen different interviewers, each will only feel valid or whole if he or she finds a flaw.  First cut down on the number of interviewers; after a certain number, the evaluation doesn’t get bigger, it gets worse.  Second, make it OK for other interviewers to say “neutral” or “nothing to add.”

This is Not a Democracy:  Try to get everyone to agree on a candidate and you’ll end up with a very safe, very vanilla, compromise candidate.  No edge, nothing strong, nothing special.  Agree ahead of time who “owns” the hire and who he/she should truly consult with. (Hint:  who will be economically dependent or physically close to the new hire?)

Listen for Intent:  There’s one more thing we also fail to ask potential hires:  Do you want to work here?  Of course it’s probably not smart to signal your own intent to hire this person, but you can certainly find out whether they’re really into you – of if you’re just “one of their safety schools.”

  • We’re not there yet, but if it all came together tomorrow and the package and responsibility lined up, would you jump at the chance to work here?

Notice that this is the only “yes or no” question I’ve suggested.

I’ll be eager to hear how your next interview goes.  Happy hiring.

The Four Letter Word.

by Doug Weaver on March 12, 2014 at 9:52AM

The Four Letter WordNow that I’ve got your attention, let me call out the four letter word that divides us, pollutes our business relationships and stymies our strategic thinking.  While it may seem innocuous at first, in short order it becomes noxious, emitting the faint odor of non-commitment and intellectual abdication.

The four letter word is test.

This week’s Drift is proudly underwritten by Evidon MCM, marketing cloud management software for large enterprises. Powered by more than 20 million Ghostery users, Evidon provides large websites with transparency to see and control the vendors that have access to their customer data and their online assets

I was reminded of my longstanding hatred of the word when I read this exchange in an interview Subway CMO Tony Pace did with The Wall Street Journal:

WSJ: Given the massive change happening in advertising, are chief marketing officers equipped to handle the job today?
MR. PACE: I think there is a lot of learning as it happens going on. More than ever you need to be in the test-and-learn mode, because you can’t wait for a general consensus to emerge on what is working and what isn’t, because you may be late.

Subway is clearly a leading edge advertiser, and I don’t worry at all about their level of commitment to innovative marketing, digital or otherwise.  What concerns me is what happens down the line when junior marketers and ad agencies hear “test and learn” from a guy like Tony.  Test becomes no longer a strategy but rather the absence of strategy. Challenged to create innovative programs and approaches for marketers, media companies and sales organizations almost always hear “Let’s test the idea (at a paltry fraction of its scope) and see how it does first.”  The new site, network or platform that fights its way into consideration with an agency planning group ends up with a very hollow victory:  a test — sometimes for as little as $10-15k — against ridiculously shallow direct response metrics that virtually guarantees failure.

Is this any way to run a new paradigm?  All this testing and learning is nothing more than bureaucracy.  It’s time to look in the mirror and confront our own complicity in the problem.  Agencies and marketers:  is the perpetual test and learn model really showing you the best of what digital marketing has to offer?  Or are you simply mitigating risk like a bunch of insurance people with cooler clothes?  Sellers:  are you so desperate for any level of acceptance that you’re shorting your best ideas and programs?

Here’s one concrete suggestion to stop the madness of the test: Next time an agency or client throws the four letter word at you, ask them to go ahead and discuss the long term relationship first.  There are no more tests, only first installments in well-considered, long term, committed marketing relationships.  If the person saying test can’t or won’t have that conversation with you, then walk away.  Your ideas are your most precious commodity.  They deserve better.


Town Meeting Day.

by Doug Weaver on March 4, 2014 at 4:31PM

Town Meeting DayToday, March 4th, is very special.  As my friend Cecilia Lang of the Washington Post reminded me, it’s the only day of the year that’s actually a command – March Forth! – which I now like to interpret as us all marching forth out of this lousy winter into a much better spring.  It’s also Seller Forum Day.  I’m writing this as I await the arrival of 50 Chief Revenue Officers to a beautiful spot at the top of the Hearst Building where we’ll share ideas and issues for the next several hours.  Which leads me to the third reason today is special:  In our home state of Vermont, it’s Town Meeting Day!

This week’s Drift is proudly underwritten by Evidon MCM, marketing cloud management software for large enterprises. Powered by more than 20 million Ghostery users, Evidon provides large websites with transparency to see and control the vendors that have access to their customer data and their online assets.

All up and down the Green Mountain State, across 237 towns, nine cities and four “gores” (don’t ask) citizens are gathering in gymnasiums and town halls to participate in perhaps the last acts of pure democracy left in our republic.  While centered on passing or rejecting town and school budgets, Town Meetings also include often spontaneous referenda on everything from paving a local road to pot legalization to taking a stand on an international justice issue.  It’s messy, spontaneous, argumentative, enlightening and inspiring all at the same time.

Just like our online marketing, advertising and media world.

A brilliant tech executive explained to me back in the mid-90s that the internet had grown into a ubiquitous, uniform global network precisely because no one controlled it. Sure, there was a room full of nerds who would distribute domain names, but nobody gave you permission to be on the web or start a magazine or launch a store.  When it came to online advertising, we kind of stumbled and lurched our way forward, every so often stopping to lay in some minimum standards around ad size, technical capabilities and legal.

Along the way, we interactive people have our own town meetings.  At CES, the IAB, SXSW, ad: tech, iMedia, the Seller Forum and many others, we participate in sometimes confusing debate and messy democracy.  Together we’re marking the recent past of our business and iterating its near future.  To the casual observer, it may seem like we have a lot of conferences; that the chief product of the digital marketing economy is talk.  But I clearly have a different take.

We all live in an unfinished, asymmetrical world, moving too fast and divided and segregated by the very technology that’s supposed to bring us together. Heads down in our email or hunched over our phones, we create bubbles where our vision of the world around us gets more and more self-referential and our issues ever more intractable.  If you ask me, there are probably not enough conferences and events.  It’s only by getting face-to-face and elbow-to-elbow with our digital neighbors that we maintain our participation in the future of the business, as sloppy and wasteful as that might seem.

So find yourself a comfortable spot in the bleachers, bring a lunch, and settle in.  It’s Town Meeting Day.

Stream On.

by Doug Weaver on February 26, 2014 at 8:02AM

Stream OnIn late 1995, Yahoo! had just been born and mobile phones had recently shed their pull out antennas.  I’d been selling digital ads for just over a year at that point and was being courted by a small MIT Media Lab spinoff called Firefly, which I would ultimately join.  Part of the wooing process included several trips to The Lab, where I’d meet with amazing scientists and brilliant, entrepreneurial grad students.  I knew they were amazing and brilliant because I understood about every third sentence.

But there was one project that stuck with me over the past 19 years, even though I’ve long forgotten the identity of its developer.  I recall sitting in a small windowless office peering into a large monitor, which reminded me of the view from the bridge of the Starship Enterprise.  I had the distinct feeling of hurtling through a galaxy as stars and planets flew past to my left and right.  Only they weren’t planets and stars:  they were words, phrases, images and brief bits of rudimentary video.  This, I was told, would be the future of the web interface; the way we would navigate information someday in the future.  A perpetual feed would wash over us and we’d simply grab, sort, file, save and view what interested us with the clicks of a mouse.

This week’s Drift is proudly underwritten by PubMatic, the technology platform that powers the programmatic advertising strategy of leading publishers and premium brands. Our innovative solutions help content providers drive the highest value for their digital media assets and provide consumers with a more personalized advertising experience across display, mobile, and video.

Keep in mind that the web had just been invented less than four years earlier, Google was still a nascent grad school project and Mark Zuckerberg was 11, so this was pretty heady sci-fi stuff.  But after nearly 19 years of clicking from page to page to page, it seems like perhaps we’re finally coming around to the vision of that anonymous MIT researcher.  And I think it’s happening because of the convergence of behavior and interface design.

Let’s start with the fact that 2014 the watershed year where far more web access comes from mobile devices, specifically those new-fangled, antenna-less smart phones.  Page after page after page just doesn’t work for the mobile viewer, and mobile interface design is quickly becoming the default.  That means a consumer who’s coming of age today will expect all of his web access to mimic his mobile experience.  Enter “Responsive Page Design,” the new school of UI design that presents the desktop web in a long continuous stream of consciousness.  (Early examples include sites like ESPN, Quartz and Yahoo! Food.)  We’re still not on the bridge of the Enterprise, but we’re getting there.

The question – and the point of this post – is what this all means to the currency of the display web ad business?  For two decades we’ve built our financial assumptions on top of lots of clicks generating lots of pages generating lots of ad calls generating lots of revenue.   Now, with the consumer enjoying elegant, streaming design and rolling over and expanding what she wants to view when she wants to view it, what will we count?  It may seem like an academic exercise today, but it becomes a vital economic question very quickly.

Six Questions: Wenda Harris Millard

by Doug Weaver on February 19, 2014 at 8:52AM

Six Questions with WendaWenda has been my client, collaborator and friend for nearly 20 years, and is one of the most connected and influential people in the world of digital media, marketing and technology.  As President and COO of MediaLink, she advises scores of companies on the nuance and power balance in today’s landscape.  On Tuesday March 4th, she’ll be our keynote interview at The Upstream Seller Forum in New York.

Doug Weaver:  Last year during interactive week you were one of the first industry leaders I heard use the word “fraud.”  How big a problem is this and what can ad sellers and publishers do about it?

Wenda Harris Millard:   Fraud is one of the most serious issues facing digital media and marketing today.  It takes many forms – content theft, suspicious activity, clutter (ad collisions), non-viewable inventory and inappropriate content like hate speech and porn.  In all its forms it devalues digital media.  It’s a big business, not a cottage industry, and it’s harming consumers, content providers and marketers.  Just today the Digital Citizens Alliance published a report on work my MediaLink colleagues and I conducted over the last few months on content theft:  “Good Money Gone Bad:  Digital Thieves and the Hijacking of the Online Ad Business.”

DW: You led Yahoo! sales during a very good time.  Can the portals of that era – Yahoo!, Aol and MSN – play a critical role in an era dominated by Google, Facebook and Amazon?

WHM:  I believe they can if they focus on primarily on two things:  best-in-class utility offerings and high quality content.  Their roles will be different, but I wouldn’t rule out a comeback for these companies despite how much the competitive landscape has changed.

DW: Tell us three simple qualities that define a great leader in today’s digital landscape.

WHM:  Be curious about everything.  Look outward, not inward.  Never underestimate the consumer or your customer.

DW: Is there a red herring in our world?  What are we spending far too much time talking about?

WHM:  Big data…Enough!  Of course data is critical to almost every aspect of digital media and marketing.  But it’s not the data in and of itself that we should focus on.  It’s the derivative of that data – the insights – that matter. Consumer behavioral insights are what marketers want more than anything else.  Those insights are what should matter most to publishers, agencies, marketers and all the other players across the landscape.

DW: It’s clear that talent continues to be a major issue for our business.  What other industries or backgrounds should we be looking to raid?  We can’t keep going after the same 300 veteran media sellers, can we?

WHM:  As an industry we certainly need to bring in the data scientists, the statistics PhD’s, the mathematicians. We need engineers and product development people who want to build solutions for problems that actually exist – not the self-indulgent ones we’ve spent too much on already.  But looking to other industries for transferrable talent has not historically been part of our media and marketing world.  No, we cannot keep going after the same veteran media sellers; the skill sets we need today are very different than just ten years ago.  The combination of technical proficiency and the ability to read and connect with an audience and tell a great story – well, that’s a highly unusual individual.  But we live in a world of “and” now, not a world of “or.”

DW: Investors have their own way of determining value.  But what creates lasting value for a company in the digital landscape? What will define the companies that are still valuable and vital in 10 or 20 years?

WHM: Four things:  First, talent is everything so hire the very best and constantly trade up.  Second, culture will define your success, so pay attention to what you nurture and celebrate.  Third, being comfortable is dangerous, so constantly challenge everything. And finally, navel-gazing and looking in the mirror for answers is death.  You don’t have the answers; your customers, employees and others do.  Get over yourself!

There are a small handful of seats remaining for The Seller Forum.  If you’re a qualified CRO, EVP, SVP or VP of sales and would like to attend, contact us today.

The F Word.

by Doug Weaver on February 10, 2014 at 12:56PM

The F WordI’m writing this from a center row at the IAB Annual Leadership Meeting in Palm Desert, where President/CEO Randall Rothenberg is lighting the place up. The conversation – no, the manifesto – is all about the F Word:  Fraud.   After years of politically safe, antiseptic dialogue about transparency, brand safety and other largely-meaningless terms, we’re finally calling our problem what it is.  It’s fraud.

According to Rothenberg, digital advertising will soon surpass broadcast as the biggest single line item on the marketers budget;  “Our challenge is no longer about growth; it’s the distribution of that growth.”  It’s raining hard, but not everybody is getting wet.  And the reason is all about our “porous, plug-and-play supply chain.”  The fact that any company – no matter how shady – can find its way into the ecosystem with relative ease.  “There’s plenty of blame to go around,” according to Randall:   from the publishers buying impressions from uninspected sources to marketers turning a blind eye to the whole issue.  Or as it was put so memorably in last week’s article in Business Insider:  “Our Industry has to stop having unprotected sex.”   I couldn’t agree more, and as one of the IAB’s earliest board members, I love the sound of leadership that I’m hearing!

This week’s Drift is proudly underwritten by PubMatic, the technology platform that powers the programmatic advertising strategy of leading publishers and premium brands. Our innovative solutions help content providers drive the highest value for their digital media assets and provide consumers with a more personalized advertising experience across display, mobile, and video.

I’ve previously written about this issue in The Drift, most notably last year in light of the IAB’s full-throated defense of the third-party cookie.  I learned then, and know now, that there are a lot of complex dependencies within the ecosystem.  Unless the IAB defends the third party cookie, they cede the whole data pie to Google and Facebook; but in defending it, they keep the borders open for the potential bad actors.  Hard problem….much work ahead.  But the IAB has a sense of urgency.  More importantly, a sense of real leadership and purpose.

Language matters.  When incoming IAB Chair Vivek Shah put the word “F-R-A-U-D” on the screen yesterday afternoon that mattered a lot.  We can only deal with a problem when we leave behind the polite language of ambiguity and call it out in plain terms.  We’ve done that now.

I’ll close with something I wrote in The Drift way back in 2002“On the one hand, we have ‘the prime time Internet,’ awash with fresh content, clean environments and strong brands. On ‘the other Internet’ it’s always 1:30 in the morning and there’s nothing on but F-Troop reruns and per-inquiry spots for the Garden Weasel.”  The technology, the complexity and the stakes have all grown geometrically.  But we’re still making the same choice today.

Want to discuss these issues in a small group environment with Randall Rothenberg?  He’ll be appearing at The Upstream Seller Forum on Tuesday March 4th at the Hearst Building.  If you’re a CRO, EVP, SVP or VP of sales from a qualified company, reach out to us today for an invitationOnly a handful of seats remain.