Guest Contributor: Greg Stuart, Ex IAB Head, On GroupM's Decision To Ignore Ad Industry's Standards

This story was written by David Kaplan.
Last month, WPP's GroupM decided to go its own way when it came to the internet ad industry's seven-year-old terms and conditionsor "T&C's" by claiming primary ownership of the online consumer data its generates and collects on behalf of its clients. The Interactive Advertising Bureau's current T&C's call for the data to be shared among the publisher, advertiser and media buyer. Greg Stuart, the former head of the IAB, helped draft the original guidelines. Stuart told me that those rules were written that way so that all parties would bear the associated costs equally. "[The T&C's] benefit publishers and the agencies. Basically, agencies are wasting the clients money on this." Here's what Stuart had to say about WPP's action.

As the former head of the IAB during the last re-writing the T&C's, I wanted to share my thoughts on this data issue raised by GroupM. I think this is a very short-sighted move by GroupM. The focus should be on building better media for advertisers and consumers, which I believe would suggest helping publishers and networks aggregate more data that can be used/sold to advertisers to better target ads.  I am not even sure what GroupM thinks they are protecting. Is it the insight from the dismal 0.5% click-through the typical agency creative receives?

This feels like protectionism and the "anti-fair-trade" version of online advertising. I'd strongly advise publishers and agencies to just say no. And how does GroupM plan to execute this?  I don't know that it's even possible. The publishers have the data and I really don't' get how GroupM thinks they'll restrict it's use. And GroupM or any agency would NEVER have any idea if the publisher used it in someway in building a better insight. It just seems impractical, and against his own better interest, to not let the publishers use it. More after the jump

Historically interesting too is that it was a GroupM staffer who lead the AAAA's (the Madison Avenue trade group American Association of Advertising Agencies) side in writing the last T&C's. I was told by publishers that GroupM never used the T&C's created, and agreed to, by both the AAAA's and IAB in 2002. (Everyone calls them the IAB T&C's, but they are really an agreement between and completely agreed to by both organizations). GroupM instead renegotiated items that had already been worked out, which frankly always seemed like a dirt-bag move to me. The T&C's were a negotiated agreement, which, by definition, if done well means no one got what they wanted.  But it was what they agreed to.

I talked to John (Montgomery, the COO of GroupM Interaction, who has been pushing for agencies to own their own data) about this in 2003 and he was blas and never provided a response as to why they'd put the industry through so much effort (it took nine-plus months to rewrite those T&C's) only to agree and then not adopt the T&C's they'd led the charge on. It was a big waste of everyone's time. For as long as I led the IAB after that, I refused to go back to the table with the AAAA's until they gave me in writing that they would adopt whatever T&C's we'd collectively negotiated.  Only seemed fair to the media sellers.

Again, I'd just say no to GroupM.


By David Kaplan
  • CBSNews

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