"There's a linear connection between fake news and those trolls of digital marketing and media: click fraud, fraudulent non-human traffic, consumer data breaches, privacy violations, and the sources of ad-blocking," Randall Rothenberg, IAB CEO, told the IAB Annual Leadership Meeting.
Each of those, he said, represented a failure of the supply chain, and fake news carried the same sort of costs as other supply chain failures: "it reminds our customers that there's something untrustworthy, even unsavory, in all this complexity in which we traffic".
But, he added, fake news is more than that; "it represents a moral failure, as well," he said.
"When all information becomes suspect – when it's not just an ad impression that may be fraudulent, but the data, news, and science that undergird society itself – then we must take civic responsibility for our effect on the world," Rothenberg declared.
And he dismissed possible objections. "Don't tell me that it's difficult. Don't tell me that it will take a lot of time. Don't tell me that it's too complex to resolve quickly.
"In a multidimensional industry that can invest untold billions on driverless cars, Mars missions, Super Bowl ads, next season's prime-time line-up, and the acquisition of hot programmatic start-ups, surely we can fix fake news first," he argued.
His remarks were backed up by Jim Norton, Chief Business Officer and President of Revenue at Condé Nast, and newly elected chairman of the IAB board of Directors.
"There are a lot of bad actors out there that are profiteering from the proliferation of fake news and unreliable content, utilising social media platforms and new ad technology," he told Beet.tv.
"I think we can do a much, much better job, not only on behalf of brands but also on behalf of the public."
Data sourced from IAB, Beet.tv; additional content by Warc staff