New IAB Chair Promises Policy Push

The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) has named its new board, an expanded executive committee and a new chairman, Jim Spanfeller. Spanfeller, who is president and CEO of Forbes.com, promises the trade group will finally delve into public policy initiatives under his leadership.

Spanfeller heads up an executive committee of 11, which includes IAB president Greg Stuart. Previously, the committee consisted of nine members. New additions include Tim Armstrong, vice president of ad sales at Google; Michael Barrett, EVP of sales at AOL; and Martin Nisenholtz, SVP of digital operations at the New York Times Company. Departing is Karen Messineo, chief financial officer of New York Times Digital.

The board as a whole also saw additions and expansion. While no members departed, four new people came aboard. These include Eric Chandler of Verizon Information Services, Paul Gardi of InterActiveCorp, Dave Madden of Wild Tangent and Dave Yovanno of ValueClick Media.

Spanfeller, who had served as vice chairman for two years under Steve Wadsworth of the Walt Disney Internet Group, says one of his main objectives will be to involve the IAB in public policy issues.

“Clearly, we want to have at least a little bit of a voice at the state and federal level on things like privacy issues, out of control advertisers and spyware,” Spanfeller told ClickZ.

The IAB’s Stuart nearly a year ago said the group intended to hire a staffer to handle public policy issues, but none has yet materialized. Spanfeller says the lack of more meaningful action has had to do with a scarcity of resources.

“There’s been a fair amount done on policy,” said Spanfeller. “We’re talking about an organization that three years ago was really scraping around that’s now fairly amply funded. Now we have the ability to actually place real resources against initiatives.”

Spanfeller said the group will hire a full-time staffer or freelancer and reach out to other industry groups that have had more of a voice in public policy. He envisions the IAB having its own Washington, D.C. office in several years.

The new chairman also said he’d work to get original editorial content more respect from the community at large.

“There’s a reason people go to Web sites, and it’s not because they want to play with their computers,” said Spanfeller. “We’ve done a really horrible job of celebrating that [quality content creation] in the past.”

The Forbes.com CEO said the IAB will continue to work on developing standards and fielding research that proves the value of the medium to advertisers.

“There are these issues that continue to come up and for the foreseeable future will continue to be important — impression counting, pipes and infrastructure type stuff,” he said. “I think people forget, including the membership at times, how much the IAB staff has done, and just how granular and down in the mud these issues can be.”

An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that two members had left the board of directors. ClickZ regrets the error.

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