Wireless Advertising Industry Groups Merge

The wireless advertising industry’s dueling standards groups — the Internet Advertising Bureau‘s Wireless Ad Council and the Wireless Advertising Industry Association — this week have agreed to join forces, in an effort to speed development of wireless advertising by establishing industry guidelines.

The decision to merge the two entities is a hopeful sign for the industry, in that organizations thought to be somewhat politically opposed have apparently set aside their differences. The WAIA was founded by AdForce, a CMGI Inc. company, while the IAB group was headed by an executive of rival DoubleClick Inc.

“We didn’t want to confuse the industry by having two separate groups examining these issues separately, and perhaps coming up with different conclusions,” said Tim DePriest, interim president of the WAIA and director of worldwide strategy for AdForce.

The two organizations will merge into the Wireless Advertising Association, which will operate as a unit of the IAB.

Leadership of the new entity hasn’t been determined, but it’s expected that its board will be evenly split between IAB members and WAIA members. The two chairs of the IAB group, Beth-Ann Eason of DoubleClick and Richy Glassberg of Phase2Media, both sit on the IAB’s overarching board.

It will be interesting to see what approach the merged group will take in developing recommended standards for the industry. The WAIA had taken a top-down approach, hand picking its participants, while the IAB group sought to be all-inclusive.

“We’re going to bring these approaches together,” said Eason.

The WAIA is further ahead in its efforts, having conducted two meetings since its April founding. The IAB group had its first meeting on Wednesday. The joined group is scheduled to meet in June, probably in conjunction with an industry conference. Topics under discussion include: ad models, technical standards, measurement and reporting, creative standards, and privacy and consumer issues.

The formation of this group under the IAB umbrella also signals a new direction in the overarching organization. The WAA is being called a “strategic organizational unit,” — the first of many within the IAB. Next on the list for development may be a broadband unit, or an email marketing unit. The idea is that each unit will operate separately, with its own board, but will be able to take advantage of the infrastructure that the IAB can offer.

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