Last week, Online Publishing Insider columnist David Koretz asserted online "publishers are committing fraud" (Online Publishing Insider, January 21), but it's Mr. Koretz who is conning MediaPost readers. As chairman of an online advertising company, he either knows and is hiding the fact that the advertising, marketing, and media industries are driving the largest and most comprehensive self-regulatory program in interactive-sector history -- or he doesn't know and is making uninformed accusations about his competitors in the interactive advertising and media industries.
Here are some of the facts:
Instead of sitting on our "collective asses," as Mr. Koretz ignorantly charges, IAB publisher members and staff also have testified before the House of Representatives and the FTC; brought more than 30 member companies to visit more than 50 Congressional offices; released a comprehensive study by Harvard Business School Professors John Deighton and John Quelch on the economic value of the interactive advertising ecosystem; hosted Virginia Congressman Rick Boucher (the author of a forthcoming "Internet privacy" bill) for a candid give-and-take at an IAB Board meeting; and written many Op-Ed pieces, blog postings and letters showcasing the value and opportunities inherent in (and historically associated with) advertising self-regulation.
We also have lobbied Congress and the FTC repeatedly and aggressively on a subject Mr. Koretz pointedly ignores: the proposals circulating in the House, the FTC, and in state capitals like Albany would destroy much of the interactive advertising industry. Why? Because these proposals label virtually ALL data exchanges that take place in interactive media -- no matter how benign -- as "behavioral," and place them all under a strict regulatory regime. Third-party ad-serving, most display advertising delivery, zip-code-level targeting, page-caching and delivery, and many of the other consumer- and business-friendly aspects of interactive advertising and media would be restricted under these proposals -- without protecting consumer "privacy" in the least.
I'll assume Mr. Koretz is not intentionally hiding all this from his readers, and honestly doesn't know all this is going on. So I'll conclude with a recommendation: Rather than writing inflammatory and badly reported Op-Ed pieces, he and his companies should join IAB, where we are working with some 400 companies he wrongly accuses of doing nothing -- and through our sister associations, with thousands of other marketing, agency, retailing, and media companies -- to create strong, meaningful self-regulation for our industry, and avoid the deleterious regulation he rightly decries. In fact, if Mr. Koretz is so worried about the industry's relationship with consumers, we urge him to follow the lead of his industry peers and put his money where his mouth is by donating ad inventory and funding to the IAB Consumer Protection & Education Campaign, where he'd be joining such IAB members as 24/7 Real Media, CBS, Burst Media, Hulu, Google, Meredith, Microsoft, NBC Universal, The New York Times, Washington Post, Yahoo, and dozens more in protecting our consumers and our industry.