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Associations: Robert Liodice, President-CEO, Association of National Advertisers

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Robert Liodice’s background in finance and accounting has prepared him well for his current post as president-CEO of the Association of National Advertisers, particularly as the industry focuses on marketing accountability.

Liodice, who holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting and an MBA in finance, spent 15 years at Kraft General Foods, first in finance and later in marketing management.

"When I was at General Foods, I was always stunned by how marketing sort of ’got away with it,’ " Liodice said. "Other disciplines in the company had more of a quantitative focus on cause and effect, but marketing did not have the financial discipline that existed in other arenas."

General Foods was not unique in this; until this decade, most marketing organizations didn’t focus on proving ROI on marketing investments. However, now that the marketing industry overall is being pressed for more accountability, Liodice is leading the ANA’s efforts to educate its members and push the industry’s efforts toward better marketing measurement.

The ANA has partnered with the Interactive Advertising Bureau and the Advertising Research Foundation on the Cross-Media Optimization Study, and it has challenged Nielsen Media Research to come out with commercial ratings that show the cause and effect of advertising investment.

Another key issue for the ANA is making sure that its services and content are targeted and relevant to its members, Liodice said. "Our members need to be able to rely on our products, services and leadership to help them make better marketing decisions for themselves and their CMOs."

For example, the ANA convenes its members more than 100 times annually at local, regional and national meetings. One of its initiatives is finding a way to disseminate knowledge from these meetings to its membership.

Liodice also wants to make sure the association takes a stand on important industry issues, both economic and social. Earlier this year, the ANA took the TV industry to task over issues including the high cost of network prime time and the medium’s inability to truly measure the effectiveness of advertising.

The ANA also rebutted critics who charged that the advertising industry is partly responsible for an increase in childhood obesity and the rising cost of prescription drugs.

"Advertising is a huge and important business," Liodice said. "We are taking real live actions to improve the social well-being of America."

—K.M.

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