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IAB chief talks digital consolidation

News, 29 September 2016

NEW YORK: Consolidation in the digital ecosystem is yielding both challenges and opportunities for marketers and media brands, according to Randall Rothenberg, President/CEO of the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB).

Rothenberg discussed this subject at the 2016 IAB MIXX Conference, an event held during Advertising Week in New York City.

"It is true that the internet provides a breadth of diversity – of information, entertainment, and services – unparalleled by other media," he said. (For more details, read Warc's exclusive report: IAB welcomes "New World Order" for digital ecosystem.)

"But adspend does appear to be consolidating more and more on a handful of platforms, calling into question how the rich diversity of content and services will continue to be financed."

Drilling down into the topic, he suggested that a key issue resulting from this trend is: "In the evolving world of big platforms, who lives, who dies, and who thrives?


"Nothing lasts forever – just ask the Studebaker car company," added Rothenberg. "But it's true that more and more consumer time and advertising spend is concentrating in a smaller number of large platforms. And this challenges almost a century of comfortable advertising and media economics."

The attendant benefits of consolidation, Rothenberg argued, include "breathless competition – not just in content, but in the underlying infrastructure of digital media and advertising delivery.

"Competition is, without question, a spur to innovation, but it also can unleash chaos. Consumers are reacting to all this innovation and all this chaos in two ways that provide both opportunity and deep challenges to our industry: They are demanding more original, more personalised, and even more provocative content and experiences.

"And they also are rejecting experiences that don't meet their desires. And they're adopting ad-blocking software, in particular, at alarming rates to reject those experiences in advertising outlay."

The story of previous media disruptions, Rothenberg reported, demonstrates that the organisations which are willing and able to adapt with changing times can emerge stronger than ever before.

"With concentration also comes opportunity, as companies evolve their business models to adapt to the new realities," he said.

Data sourced from Warc​