Draizen Will Leave IAB to Start Social Activism Venture

A public face of the Interactive Advertising Bureau for the past few years, Sheryl Draizen, will leave the trade organization to start her own social activism venture.

“We’re working on a transition plan,” Draizen told ClickZ News, adding she plans to stay on in her current role as GM, SVP for the next three months to assist in the changeover. She most likely will continue on in some capacity as a consultant thereafter.

Draizen has juggled dual General Manager and Senior VP positions since she joined the online ad industry trade group full-time in February 2006, following a 2.5 year stint as a consultant, including time spent as acting VP, events and VP, marketing for the IAB.

Now, she said, the organization’s growth in membership and influence calls for two replacements. The IAB is “recruiting aggressively” for a VP of Industry Services and a Chief Administration Officer to fill her shoes. The former will be charged with handling the organization’s industry standards and guidelines development, while the CAO will investigate new revenue opportunities, and manage human relations for its growing staff.

The new execs may or may not come from within the IAB’s current board, committees or membership pool, said Draizen, noting the Industry Services VP could hail from a media firm or ad agency. As for the administrative head, “Maybe even a nonprofit, an association background would be good,” she continued.

Draizen was tight-lipped about her new project, saying it will “take social activism and social networking to the next level.” She said the startup won’t be related to any specific activist cause or issue, and will have “a real sustainable business model.” The operation will begin raising money soon, she added.

The activism-driven plans will come as no surprise to those familiar with Draizen and her history. Prior to working with the IAB, she ran marketing for Guggenheim.com, where she developed the online ad business model for the for-profit division of the Guggenheim Foundation, an organization best known for its modern art museums.

“It was a real business,” says Draizen of Guggenheim.com, but “We were going to bring culture to people that didn’t know about culture.”

Draizen’s upbringing in South Africa, where she lived under the apartheid regime, was “absolutely my inspiration” for the planned venture, she told ClickZ News. Her time spent working at Ground Zero after the 2001 World Trade Center attacks also informed her decision to embark on the activist social networking operation.

Now is a good time to leave the IAB, said Draizen, who believes it has “a really good groove going on.”

In just a few years, the online ad industry has grown steadily. According to the IAB and its research partner PricewaterhouseCoopers, online ad industry revenues hit $16.9 billion in 2006, up 35 percent over 2005. In 1999, Web ad revenues clocked in at $4.6 billion.

The IAB has built its membership and stature along with the industry, increasing from 30-some members around 2001 to over 300 members now, mainly media companies along with some technology firms. The organization collected $5.2 million in total revenues in 2005, up from $3.1 million in 2003, according to IRS filings.

Early this year the IAB took on a new president and CEO, Randall Rothenberg. The former CMO at global strategy and technology consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton and editorial columnist replaced Greg Stuart, who had helmed the IAB since 2001.

The IAB displayed its sway over influential online audience measurement firms Nielsen/NetRatings and comScore in April, prodding the companies through a public letter to subject their methodologies to audits in the hopes of providing more industry transparency.

“I’ll do whatever I can to help the organization,” said Draizen of the IAB. “I have great respect for everyone there.”

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