Dave Morgan Resigns From ARF Board, Cites Industry's Need For 'Bolder Action'

Citing the need for “bolder action,” Dave Morgan resigned from the board of the Advertising Research Foundation.

Morgan, the founder and CEO of Simulmedia, has served on the ARF board since 2013, and gave notice Friday, telling the board he believes the ARF is focused on “incremental improvements” at a time when it needs to be “bold and singularly focused on helping advertisers prove that advertising works and fixing its measurement in a world that has rapidly become digital and omni-channel.”

The news came on the eve of its big annual conference -- Audience X Science -- in Jersey City, N.J. today and tomorrow.

Morgan’s departure comes as others have been critical of the ARF’s tepid steps at a time when advertising and media are undergoing accelerated, radical change, and also the fact that it has become more beholden to the media and research supply chain than its original charter of serving advertisers and agencies called for.

One of the key areas of discussion at this week’s ARF conference is its new Code of Conduct, which is completely self-regulatory and relies on allocating a seal of approval for suppliers who agree to its standards, but has no review process or means of enforcement. Critics believe the code falls short of having real teeth.

While Morgan did not cite the code as an example, he told the board and ARF President-CEO Scott McDonald that the real leadership is “happening within the proprietary silos of the large digital marketing platforms” and at organizations like the Media Rating Council (MRC), Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and the Association of National Advertisers (ANA).

Morgan added that he would instead focus his energy on supporting the efforts of the ANA.

During the ANA’s recent Media Conference in Orlando, Florida, Procter & Gamble Chief Brand Officer Marc Pritchard called for an entirely new media supply chain to address the significant challenges facing the industry in transparency, brand safety and privacy.

Pritchard singled out the need for overhauling research, data and privacy practices and cited the MRC’s new cross-platform measurement standards as an example of moving the industry forward.

The ARF was created in 1936 by the ANA and the American Association of Advertising Agencies to help the industry organize and conduct research measurement and understanding how advertising works. Over the past decade it has been transformed more into an organization dominated by big digital media platforms and research suppliers.

“Dave Morgan has been a valued member of our Board of Directors and we thank him for his contributions and service," the ARF's McDonald said  in a statement, adding, "As  the only industry association that represents all segments of the industry, the Advertising Research Foundation continues to be at the forefront of advancing the interests of marketers, media, agencies and vendors alike through application of scientific rigor to the most pressing challenges facing our industry today.  

"We look forward to continuing our long history of demonstrating the effectiveness of advertising as we advance the study and development of attribution analysis and help establish new approaches to audience measurement, an effort now enhanced through our acquisition last year of the Coalition for Innovative Media Measurement.”

7 comments about "Dave Morgan Resigns From ARF Board, Cites Industry's Need For 'Bolder Action'".
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  1. Chris Peterson from R2C Group, April 15, 2019 at 11:43 a.m.

    Fantastic. Congratulations to Dave Morgan. There are huge blind spots in this industry that are only getting bigger. 

  2. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, April 15, 2019 at 4:28 p.m.

    It's unrealistic to expect bold moves from "industry" groups with many members whose incomes might be adversely affected by departing from the status quo.The ARF does a fine job in the theorectical research area but it's not going to tell advertisers how to use media in a more realistic fashion as this takes you into the political arena where there are many distinct and contrasting agendas. Dave has a point, but it may not be the ARF's fault. What's needed is much more involvement by advertiser CMO types, not just their media folks. Until this happens expect more waffling and punting----but little progress.

  3. John Grono from GAP Research, April 15, 2019 at 6:19 p.m.

    A bold move Dave, but I understand completely.

    No-one has ever changed anything from the sidelines.

    As Ed points out involvement - and by that I mean the hard yards of theorising, designing, testing, validating and then rolling out new research methods - is absolutely essential.

    Also essential is contributing to the cost of both the development and the ongoing running of the research.

    In essence - bums on seats, brains in gear, and hands on wallets.

  4. Dave Morgan from Simulmedia replied, April 15, 2019 at 8:41 p.m.

    Thanks for your thoughtful comments Ed and John.
    Ed, I agree that it's not the ARF's fault. It just happens to be whether the organization ended up, which is a long way from its original charter. I am leaving the organization because I believe that someone needs to fix ad mesurement now, boldly, and I dont' believe that it can happen there.
    John, I have no intention on remaining on the sidelines. I am jumping in with both feet to support the ANA's new measurement initiatives and am working closely with the IAB on helping D2C brands harness omnni-channel mesurement, and I will continue to push folks to work with the MRC.

  5. John Grono from GAP Research, April 15, 2019 at 8:55 p.m.

    Hi Dave.

    I think you misunderstood my 'sidelines' comment.   It's people like you who HAVE (and will continue to do so) rolled up your sleeves, shared your experience and knowledge at the coal face where the nitty-gritty work is done.

    It might just be more an Australia-thing, but getting advertiser industry bodies to attend industry measurement committee meetings is problematic.   In my almost 20 years of being the media agency advocate for all measured media, I could count on both hands (and probably have fingers to spare) the number of times an advertiser industry body attended industry research committee meetings that focus on the detail.   They attend the inter-industry meetings at the outset on what should be done, but not when the going gets tough.

  6. Craig Mcdaniel from Sweepstakes Today LLC, April 16, 2019 at 1:44 a.m.

    Dave, thank you for standing up the ad industry. Interestingly no one talked about ad distribution problems 15 to 20 years ago. Why? There were none to speak of. Only with the digital intervention this the problem happen especially about 8 years ago programmatic ads came out with non-written rules. The point here is the industry needs to roll back the clock and try OTC and direct targeting between the advertisers and publishers. I am will to offer my website as a test to bring back OTC or ad networks again. Thanks,

  7. Dave Morgan from Simulmedia replied, April 16, 2019 at 5:52 a.m.

    Thanks John, and sorry for any mischaracterization. I'm totally with you. We need folks on the field now to help fix things, not just joining teams but only watching!

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