4A’s and ANA Take Issue with IAB CEO David Cohen’s Remarks | About the ANA | ANA

4A’s and ANA Take Issue with IAB CEO David Cohen’s Remarks

NOTE TO EDITORS: The ANA and the 4A’s have issued the following joint statement in response to remarks delivered last week by Interactive Advertising Bureau CEO David Cohen at the IAB’s annual leadership meeting (ALM). For additional information, or for requests to interview ANA CEO Bob Liodice or 4A’s President-CEO Marla Kaplowitz, please contact the ANA or 4A’s press contacts listed at the bottom of the statement.

In an era of inflamed political tensions and growing division, the art of nuance and listening is quickly jettisoned for the short-term sugar highs of polarizing political rhetoric. And while polarizing political rhetoric might produce short-term results, it does nothing to achieve the kind of balanced, lasting consensus needed to effectuate real solutions.

It is with that as a fundamental premise that the 4A’s and ANA reject the acerbic tone, texture, and prescriptions offered by the IAB at their recent ALM conference. Our industry was built on a foundation of responsible marketing. While we, as an industry, may not always get it right, we do know when we must lead to restore balance — especially when we have created the conditions for our industry to be “out of balance”. Examples of such leadership include:

  • The Media Ratings Council (MRC), a nonprofit industry self-regulatory body, was established in 1963 at the request of the U.S. Congress to provide audits and accreditation for various media measurement products.
  • The Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CFBAI) was a self-regulatory body created in 2006 to improve the landscape of food advertising primarily directed to children. Specifically, our focus was to address issues of obesity and provide guidelines for responsible advertising to children.
  • The Digital Advertising Alliance was a self-regulatory body created in 2009 to ensure that consumers could responsibly take control of ads that were behaviorally targeted and to establish and enforce responsible privacy practices across the industry.

The common denominators in these examples are “responsibility” and “self-regulation.” And these examples — and quite a few more — represent the confluence of ALL industry bodies to ensure that the total industry response is balanced and works for the best interests of all constituents — most importantly, consumers.

The 4A’s and ANA do not believe that the IAB’s posture is sufficiently balanced. It appears to be a tirade against the forces that disagree with our industry. Let’s be honest. Our industry is far from perfect. Many of the problems that the IAB cited were because of an imbalanced industry that we all created and supported with our advertising investments. Did we ever utter the issues of “brand safety” or “digital ad fraud” ten years ago? Of course not. But it is time for our industry to clean up its messes and present a far more responsible approach to address the issues that are prevalent in our industry.

As responsible marketers, we need to continue to put forward reasonable recommendations that provide balance for marketers, agencies, platforms, media, ad tech and… consumers. We can’t just duck our heads and hope that no one will notice. That is most relevant with respect to the issues surrounding privacy.

Privacy is not a “war” to be won or a “battle” against extremists. Privacy is a complex, multi-layered issue experienced both broadly and narrowly by a complex array of actors. Its evolution as a prominent societal issue in the last decade has come with a complex array of challenges for the advertising and marketing industry.

And while Congress and regulatory agencies might disagree with the industry on the specifics of what needs to be done, we can all agree that we should be looking out for the best interests of our most important constituency: consumers.

There will be plenty of debate in the years ahead in Congress and at the regulatory agencies about what needs to happen around privacy. As a critical issue, it should be grounded in a constructive cross-industry debate required for common sensible solutions. And that constructive debate should include members of Congress and the appropriate regulatory agencies.

The road is long on these issues and alienating the very parties that we need to work with to achieve balanced consensus is not the path to take. At the end of the day, members of Congress and regulators are doing a hard job to the best of their ability and are seeking to find harmony among a lot of competing interests. Demonizing them does us no favors.

To that end, let’s work constructively within our industry and with those in the regulatory and legislative arenas while simultaneously turning down the heat on the rhetoric. Instead let’s focus on cultivating real solutions and meaningful allies.


John Wolfe
Director of Communications
Cell: 914.659.8663
Email: jwolfe@ana.net

Ann Rubin
Executive Vice President
Marketing, Communications, and Events
Cell: 914.424.0269
Email: arubin@4As.org