IAB Innovation Days: Rothenberg calls for 'brand moment' to boost digital ad share

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New York—Calling for “the brand moment,” Interactive Advertising Bureau President-CEO Randall Rothenberg urged advertisers and agencies at today's IAB Innovation Days to develop more strategic, creative campaigns for the digital world, to steer digital advertising away from direct response campaigns and toward a branding model. It's the only way, he said, that digital advertising can gain a greater share of overall ad spending. “From the outside, it would look like the ad-supported interactive media industry is pretty good at providing that brand advantage,” Rothenberg said, citing first-quarter interactive ad revenue of about $26 billion, for year-over-year growth of about 23% But, he said, while consumers spend about 28% of their time on the Web, digital advertising comprises only about 12% of all advertising. “Why isn't the Internet getting our fair share of spend?” Rothenberg asked. “Consumers are voting with their time, with their passions, and moving into a media space where marketers are simply uncomfortable following them.” Recent IAB initiatives have been about changing that. Earlier this year, IAB—together with the Association of National Advertisers and the American Association of Advertising Agencies—debuted Make Measurement Make Sense, an effort to create brand performance standards. IAB also is pushing its array of new ad unit formats it calls Rising Stars. Following his opening remarks, Rothenberg interviewed Ross Levinsohn, exec VP-Americas region at Yahoo. Levinsohn joined Yahoo in November from tech and media investment company Fuse Capital. Previously, he was president of Fox Interactive Media. Levinsohn echoed Rothenberg's call for higher quality digital advertising, arguing that Yahoo is uniquely positioned to feature such creative. “It all starts with premium experiences and content,” Levinsohn said. “People in our industry need to know digital media isn't a second-class citizen. Think about the amount of engagement, that every day how many people are interacting with our platforms.” Levinsohn suggested that Yahoo may want to reduce its ad inventory, which is “infinite,” he said, and instead develop partnerships with big advertisers. He said that Yahoo's combination of original content, 700 million viewers and personalized page views—the company serves 13 million variations of its home page every day—should position it well for hosting such partners. “We've done a good job selling advertising, but I'd like us to do bigger with fewer,” Levinsohn said. “I'd love to break through with some really big partners.”
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