Say What You Want About David Cohen, At Least He Has An Ethos

I've written more than my fair share of "Red, White & Blog" columns about highly partisan, politically contentious, incendiary rhetoric, but normally it's been about political media, marketing, parties or candidates, not advertising trade associations. But thanks to IAB chief David Cohen, I can chalk that one off my list.

I didn't attend the IAB's annual conference this year, so I was as surprised as anyone to read about Cohen's "extremist" attack on -- well, everybody from Amy Klobuchar to Ted Cruz to Shoshana Zuboff -- as well as a variety of institutions, ideologies and economic models.

But I didn't actually read the full transcript of his speech until this morning when the Association of National Advertisers and the American Association of Advertising Agencies issued a joint statement rejecting his remarks as polarizing political rhetoric that's not necessarily in the best interest of the ad industry, including an ad-supported media trade association.



I mean, say what you want about the tenets of Surveillance Capitalism, Dude, at least it's an ethos.

And at least Cohen got some attention for the IAB, even if it was the wrong kind.

That said, I think he went a little too far to blame others for the woes of the digital advertising industry, especially "Apple," which tied with his own references to the "IAB" itself -- as well as the reason everyone was gathered at its annual conference, you know, "advertising" -- as references in his speech.

I also thought his villainization of Apple was a little too heavy-handed.

On the one hand, he blamed the consumer tech giant's user privacy controls for the loss of billions of digital advertising dollars, one of the favorite scapegoat accusations of influential IAB member Meta.

On the other hand, he ridiculed Apple for cultivating its own advertising marketplace, something GroupM's Business Intelligence team projects will make it one of the top 25 sellers of digital advertising this year.

So when Cohen says, "Apple is fine with advertising, as long as they get to control it on their terms," I think he really means the IAB is only fine with that model if you happen to be a dues-paying member.

But if you ask me, Cohen's worst sin wasn't his buck-passing or his tone deafness, but that he repeatedly conflated the rights of consumer privacy -- and more specifically, their personal data sovereignty -- with their willingness to accept the presence of ads as a value exchange for free, ad-supported media experiences. They are related, David, but they're two different things, and the first one is kind of important to both lawmakers and their constituencies.

Maybe I'm over-reading things, so go read the transcript for yourself and let me know what you think.

It starts here.

1 comment about "Say What You Want About David Cohen, At Least He Has An Ethos".
Check to receive email when comments are posted.
  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, January 31, 2023 at 5:40 p.m.

    Agree for the most part, Joe. I also found it somewhat annoying that David seems to think---or is implying---- that the only "advertising"is digital advertising. Sorry,  but for branding advertising TV in its various forms---and still heavily "linear"---is the champ and then there is radio, print media and OOH media.I don't think that anybody is attcking these forms of "advertising".

Next story loading loading..