Cooperation need not threaten the identity and rationale of the major associations and volunteer groups that serve the advertising business. By separating unique functions from programs and tasks that can be jointly run, a more coordinated association network could also be more understandable to the ad industry's rank and file.
The Association of National Advertisers and American Association of Advertising Agencies serve "buyer" and "seller" interests that can't be adequately reconciled under an umbrella organization. The American Advertising Federation combines at the national level a group of advertisers, agencies and media companies and links them with a vital network of local ad clubs and educators that reaches beyond traditional big-city ad centers like New York, Detroit, Chicago and Los Angeles. Cooperation also can boost established but smaller groups, such as the Advertising Council and the International Advertising Association, which also must compete for their share of corporate attention and corporate financial support.
The associations offer important platforms for the ad business, and will continue to do so. And they have long histories and dedicated volunteer leaders. But funding dollars are precious. Combining some functions can preserve funds for programs that must be free standing. More important, it can raise confidence among companies asked to invest in the associations that the funds they provide are managed as the companies would manage their own money: with return on investment very much in mind.