The Interactive Advertising Bureau’s (IAB) 2019 Annual Leadership Meeting provided an in-depth view of the direct-brand revolution. Geoffrey Precourt, WARC’s US Editor, outlines some of the highlights from the event in Phoenix, Arizona.

A year ago, the Interactive Advertising Bureau tapped into a rich new marketing vein. It was a direct digital conduit between consumers and products, and the IAB richly reported – via tales from the likes of Away (luggage) and Glossier (skincare) – that there was now a sharp fork in the path to purchase.

Last month, the IAB returned with further insight from an extraordinary batch of direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands that are bypassing traditional third-party channels to speak directly to customers who have self-identified as active prospects – a list including Parachute (linens), Dagne Dover (handbags), Kopari Beauty (coconut-based cosmetics), and Plated (meal delivery).

The 1,300-plus delegates at the IAB’s 2019 Annual Leadership Meeting also discovered how brands from the Kellogg Co. have been wise enough to look over their shoulder at the new batch of DTC competitors and reshape the way they bring products to market. And there’s also the tale of how Third Love has grown to the point where its market presence justifies the move away from an all-digital-all-the-time advertising philosophy to embrace legacy media.

Beyond the 10,000-feet-in-the-air prospective, Randall Rothenberg, the IAB’s CEO, offered four long-term consequences of what he calls a brand “revolution”:

  • a data-packed overview of the success of direct brands;
  • proof of how DTC enterprises are creating chaos among traditional retailers;
  • lessons that established brands can learn from the young upstarts;
  • a hands-on playbook to guide marketers through the new direct-marketing phenomenon.

Of course, the success of DTC offerings depends on how much consumer information they are able to access, and how they go about such data compilation. To that end, the IAB’s latest Annual Leadership Meeting also featured in-depth analysis from different perspectives on the European Union’s General Data Privacy Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA).

The head of the IAB Europe contends that such regulations actually have a bright side for marketers, while one of the most articulate proponents of consumer safety points to the pragmatic efforts of security implementation, recognizing that some agencies spent “60% to 70%” of their time in the three months before GDPR updating client business and preparing for GDPR.

And the IAB’s own pragmatic get-it-done point was reflected in appearances by its senior leaders before Congress the following week, as they supported the need for some kind of federal privacy act in order to avoid a “patchwork” network of GDPR and CCPA clones taking root at the state level across the United States.