IAB Australia declares ‘end of the closed shop’, Danny Bass to head Agency Advisory Board

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L-R: Danny Bass, Alice Manners, Mark Britt

Digital advertising industry body the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) has this morning announced it no long wants to be seen as a “closed shop” and instead has promised to be more inclusive of agencies, technology partners and small publishers.

The declaration was made today by CEO of the IAB Alice Manners today, who signalled the move while announcing the creation of an Agency Advisory Board to be headed by Group M chief investment and intelligence officer Danny Bass.

One of the traditional criticisms of the IAB has been it was a body which solely represented the interests of the “big publishers” News Corp Australia, Fairfax Media, Mi9, Yahoo!7 and Google. In announcing a series of changes Manners said the organisation was committed to changing this perception.

“We want to be representing everyone in the industry and have them in a big tent,” said Manners. “The one consistent thing I got when I took this job was that the IAB represents only the interests of the top five publishers in Australia… this is about change this is about a new purpose and being for the entire industry.”

Manners cited her 20 years experience in agencies, most recently as GroupM Interaction’s former Asia Pacific COO, as a sign the IAB was broadening it consultation and membership.

“It’s not just about the publishers it is about broadening the focus and I think the fact the board brought in me, with 20 years experience is one of the first steps in that new direction.”

Danny Bass, chair of the new Agency Advisory Board conceded the IAB had has its face share of criticism, but said the move to consult agencies would have a big impact on the future of Australia’s digital growth.

“From an agency perspective the IAB has always been seen as a closed shop,” said Bass. “It’s an easy thing to do to bash the IAB board members, I know I’ve done it. But in fairness if you look at every major piece of research that has been done in the industry and look at the agency uptake of digital, that has come from the IAB board members.”

Bass instead argued the new agency board was significant because media agencies are engaged with small publishers and technology partners in a way that many in the IAB are not.

“Media agencies are a front door for a lot of new (digital) operations which are launching and arriving and we have an ear to the ground like the publishers will never have. They will never rock up at the door of News, Mi9, Carsales or whoever because they are a competitor,”  he said.

“We have a unique opportunity to talk to these people and help shape the future that the IAB board itself could never have and hopefully that will give them a sense of security talking to us.”

Chairman of the IAB and CEO of one of Mi9 Mark Britt said this move to broaden the IAB was important to its future credibility.

“The board is only one part of it. For too long the attention of the IAB’s staff has been on preserving the interest of that group (the big publishers) so there are a series of change that we have been talking about, for example the decision to appoint Alice, that are about a different tone of voice,” said Britt.

“This is about more thought leadership, more future oriented, more representing the collective of the entire industry.”

The IAB said the “big tent” move would see them move to expanding its membership, particularly with smaller publisher and technology partners, but was not attempt to encroach on other industry bodies, insisting instead it would be working closely with other industry bodies such as the Media Federation of Australia (MFA)  and Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA).

“We will be collaborating with a number of the trade associations in particular the MFA and AANA and the first step in that will be a privacy workshop in February for our members,” said Manners.

“What we want to be able to do with that session is to show the perspective of the publisher, the marketer, as well as the agency and we will be working closely with them on a range of initiatives as we go through the year.”

Nic Christensen


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