Advertising industry trade association CEO on ad blocking, viewability, and fraud

Mike Shields, writing for the Wall Street Journal, pulled together this fascinating interview with Randall Rothenberg, CEO of the Interactive Advertising Bureau, a trade association of sorts for the advertising industry.

Some core comments from Rothenberg:

There is a real issue. I’m not worried because the marketing and media value chain has shown remarkable resilience. There is a natural human need to have businesses proposition you with goods and services and vice versa. You need to have that communication. I’m really not worried about whether advertising will be able to find its way through digital channels. I am concerned — very, very concerned — that costs of ads will go up and up and up from this unethical obstruction.

On the cause of this problem:

There is a fair amount of shared responsibility here. We have definitely, definitely over time gummed up the advertising experience and Web pages with all kinds of analytics and pixels and tags and all kinds of things. The more we are able to do with advertising on the Web, the more it contributes to the problem. So this is absolutely something the industry can address and should address.

On potential legal action:

We’ve examined this, and there are some pretty good legal principles here. So that might be a course of action. Maybe. Certainly nothing aimed at consumers. That would be a bad idea. In terms of the software companies, nothing is imminent.

One thing that frustrates the hell out of me is that these companies are ad-blocking profiteers. They are trying to divert a portion of brands’ spending to line their own pockets.

Read the rest. It’s fascinating. Always good to see both sides of an issue, but Rothenberg seems blind to the real problem. He seems to see it as ad blockers taking money from his client’s pockets. This is not a chicken and egg problem. We know which came first. If ads were helpful or, at worst, innocuous, this issue wouldn’t exist.

Take responsibility for the problem, apologize, vow to do better, than do better. Anything short of that is self-serving.