IAB Leadership Meeting Opens With Ad-Blocking Warning

Calls ad-blocking technology a denial of free speech
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In his opening speech to attendees at the 2016 Interactive Advertising Bureau Annual Leadership Meeting, Randall Rothenberg, IAB president and CEO, recalled a scheduled discussion between Adblock Plus developer Eyeo, a German for-profit company, and publishers last fall about advertising on the Internet. Rothenberg says that rather than an open dialog, those who attended received more of a monologue from Adblock Plus.

“This is what happens when you only motivation, your only metric, is money,” said Rothenberg. “For that is what Adblock Plus is: an old-fashioned extortion racket, gussied up in flowery but false language of contemporary consumerism.”

That was the crux of Rothenberg’s opening speech, a warning against for-profit ad-blocking companies, that he claims are a denial of people’s right to freedom of speech and expression. “This is the true face of ad blocking,” he said. “It is the rich and self-righteous, who want to tell everyone else what they can and cannot read and watch and hear — self-proclaimed libertarians whose liberty involves denying freedom to everyone else.”

Rothenberg highlighted how members of the IAB are working to deter and prevent such companies from succeeding, and says that the best way to end this dilemma is to create new operating standards and technical standards that will better regulate “how we will operate our sites, our advertising, and our delivery.”

To do so, he announced the development of LEAN principles. Standing for ad operations that are light, encrypted, AdChoices-supporting, and noninvasive, LEAN — with the combination of publisher implementation of detection-notice-choice-and-constraint — will limit the impact of ad blocking.

Other things that Rothenberg discusses including the need to recognize and increase diversity in the industry. He hopes to do this through the iDiverse program from the IAB Education Foundation, which will train 10,000 entry-level candidates, increase the diversity of the industry’s candidate pool by 50% and increase total employee diversity and retention statistics by 25% by 2020, according to Rothenberg.

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