While P&G’s Pritchard called for enforcement of current standards around viewability, third-party measurement, fraud and transparent contracts, Rothenberg added a new foe to the list: fake news.
“There’s a linear connection between fake news and those trolls of digital marketing and media: click fraud, fraudulent nonhuman traffic, consumer data breaches, privacy violations and the sources of ad blocking,” Rothenberg said. “Each represents the failure of our supply chain.”
He decried the ease with which people can exploit the current supply chain, as illustrated by 23-year-old Cameron Harris, who made $5,000 from Google by making a fake news story go viral.
Rothenberg encouraged IAB members to stop their inaction. He advised them to audit their customer and supplier lists for any unsavory partners that might be responsible for fake news. Then they must turn off those players.
“As senior executives in brands, agencies, tech companies, platforms and publishers, you have a responsibility to keep our commons safe, secure and flourishing,” Rothenberg said.
The argument for standardization and a clean supply chain isn’t just a moral one, but a financial one. In the IAB’s early days, the organization reduced hundreds of ad formats to a handful, leading to an explosion in ad spend.
“The original universal ad package was the foundation of a $60 billion industry,” Rothenberg said.
Rothenberg rejected the argument that the constantly changing, innovative nature of digital advertising defies standardization. Common standards and a clean supply chain are fundamental, he said.
“Throughout history, standards have been necessary for innovation,” Rothenberg said. “It gets the low-value stuff out of the way so the creators can create.”