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Recap: IAB Annual Leadership Meeting

Lucas Stewart

We were thrilled to attend this year’s IAB Annual Leadership Meeting, the unmissable three-day thought leadership and networking bonanza for the interactive advertising and marketing industries. This year’s content was data savvy, cutting-edge, and above all, human-focused.

“We have to bring the human back into advertising. Can we have an IAB meeting where we don’t use the word user?” –Brian O’Kelley, CEO of AppNexus

According to IAB’s ‘Outlook for Data’ study results announced at the conference, 71% of marketers, media buyers, publishers, and tech execs expect to increase spending on data and related services this year. Participants in the study shared that this year, “better reporting, measurement or attribution” is top of mind. Last year, the focus was on “cross-device audience recognition”.

P&G’s Chief Brand Officer Marc Pritchard had a lot to say about measurement and attribution related to the media supply chain. He expressed frustration rarely seen in conference keynotes, saying that the rise in ad blocking software among consumers is due to poor advertising. He went on the implore industry leaders (his audience) to improve viewability, ad fraud, and measurement.

The most unforgettable moment of the conference was when President and CEO of IAB Randall Rothenberg addressed the convention with a rousing speech on combating fake news. He likened fake news to click-fraud, consumer data breaches, and other forms of “supply chain failure” that “we at IAB and our members have dealt with repeatedly and successfully over the years.”

But between these other hiccups in the advertising supply chain, he drew a harrowing distinction:

“The object of hucksterism is to fool you into buying something. From that, you will recover. The object of fake news is to fool you into cynicism, mistrust, and even hatred. From that, our society cannot recover.” –Randall Rothernberg, President & CEO of IAB

Rothenberg’s speech was a great example of how IAB’s leadership summit covers more than just innovations in the advertising and media industries. It’s a community of human beings, who are conscientious of shaping the evolving industry so embedded in all our lives.


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