Results tagged “IAB Global” from IABlog

The International Breakfast Session, which was started a few years ago, has now become a key discussion during the IAB Annual Leadership Meeting. Taking place on the closing day of the conference in Phoenix, Arizona, the session gathered over 50 digital advertising leaders from 11 countries to discuss the pressing issues facing the industry and how we can work better together to advance our common interests. 

Two very lively conversations were the focus of the morning, in addition to the newly released research in partnership with BabyCenter and the IAB multinational research: The first was an open International Town Hall on mobile integration, and the second was a chat on Viewability

“Everything is mobile,” explains Guy Phillipson, CEO, IAB UK, “and we are clearly in a period of global mobile exponential growth.” Although the UK now sees mobile dominates digital time, many other countries are not far behind, from a shift in consumer behavior to one in digital ad spending. As such, it is not surprising that global media owners are considering cross screen strategies to be vital even though monetization remains a key challenge. 

The challenges publishers are faced with are not necessarily country specific. Issues such as access to subscription data, tracking consumers on mobile devices, targeting and frequency capping are real problems in many markets. Certainly, regions like Southeast Asia face additional hurdles compared to Europe as the diversity from country to country is remarkable and although mobile is at the heart of what IAB Singapore has to offer, lobbying for standards and setting policy is primordial.

It also came to light in this discussion that as IABs around the world address mobile integration, it does not always make sense to have mobile broached separately from the rest of the digital landscape. The same is true with digital video, which is becoming increasingly important, as is the need for content and advertising to be constructed in a different ways (ie shorter). It was also interesting to hear how even the definition of mobile isn’t always as clear-cut as one would expect. IAB Canada, Vice President, Operations, Julie Ford, suggested separating smartphones from everything else maybe a better approach.
As Randall Rothenberg, President and CEO, IAB, points out, maybe we are seeing a return of interruptive advertising because of mobile. Where it used to be one of the worse kinds of advertising, cluttering the screen, the remarkable success of mobile is that it puts ads in the middle of the content. Native or in-stream advertising in mobile can in essence be compared to television ads or even magazine ads.  

There was a solid agreement from everyone present on the need to better understand the multi-screen evolution, what meets consumers’ needs and what works for advertisers. And clearly the need for research in terms of screen sizes and their impact as that is an important part of creating effective advertising. From IAB Canada’s html5 webinar series to the work IAB is doing this year on establishing new responsive standards, it is evident that the key is to get agencies and advertisers on board by understanding the impact of mobile advertising and not just looking at mobile from a technology standpoint.

The chat on Viewability was equally vibrant. 

Lou Paskalis, SVP, Enterprise Media Executive, Bank of America, and Julian Zilberbrand, EVP, Activation Standards, Insights & Technology, ZenithOptimedia, were joined by Sherrill Mane, Senior Vice President, Research, Analytics, and Measurement, IAB, and actively engaged everyone in the breakfast on what planning and trading on a viewable metrics means and how we as a global industry are not ready for this yet, until the issue measurement has been tackled. 

Again, not limited to the U.S. market, there are fraudulent actors in the digital advertising ecosphere and it is completely understandabl
e that advertisers do not want to be paying to send a message out to consumers that is never seen. As Julian pointed out, that would just be a waste. What it comes down to is the opportunity to have consumers receive the message and for it to be viewed. Sherrill underlined that Viewability is important for everyone’s KPIs, and it is more than planning and buying media, it is knowing the value so that you can build models based on more than air.

From all corners of the world, there is a lot of noise out there about Viewability but until there is clarity and agreement on measurement, we are functionally in a period where the focus needs to be on tracking. Conducting business on viewable impressions does not make sense today. Most publishers don’t have systems in place to manage Viewablity and as Julian pointed out so well, this is the year they need to push technology partners for a solution. And tying in to our earlier conversation about mobile, Lou pointed out that not only does the counting process need to be addressed overall but given that mobile is at the center of what so many are doing now, mobile Viewability aught to be fast-tracked. 

If you would like to get engaged with the IAB Global Network, be sure to save the date for the next significant event, IAB Global Summit, to be held in New York on September 30 and October 1, 2015. In the meantime, you can learn more at and browse the full IAB Global Network Facebook photo album here.

About the Author


Alexandra Salomon

Alexandra Salomon is the Senior Director, International at the Interactive Advertising Bureau



On August 1st, Endre Somogyi became the general manager of IAB Hungary, and its first full-time employee. Endre took some time before his new role to talk with us about his vision for this new era and about what the smaller markets can teach the big players. He also shared some insights from the innovative CEE initiative, a comprehensive exploration of the online landscape of Central and Eastern Europe.

In August of this year, you became the general manager of IAB Hungary.

Yes. I was appointed to be the general manager of IAB Hungary. I’ll be the first full-time employee for the organization. But at this moment, I am a board member and a volunteer. We have to inform our membership properly; we have to change our bylaws so that I can become the first paid employee.

I was also elected to the IAB Europe board in Barcelona, as a representative of the smaller, “tier three” countries. There are four tiers within IAB Europe: the tier four members are associate members who cannot vote. The tier three countries are smaller, less developed markets, for instance Greece, Hungary, Turkey, Austria, and Slovenia. The tier two countries are countries like Spain, France, Belgium, and Norway that may be smaller markets but are strong ones. And tier one, at the moment, is the UK and Germany, the biggest markets by ad spend volume in Europe. I believe that I was elected because of the CEE efforts along with Jaroslaw (Sobolewski, of IAB Poland.)

pic1.jpg(Endre Somogyi, General Manager, IAB Hungary)

What are the primary objectives of the CEE efforts?

The main motivation is to have this geographical area covered with IABs, even in the really small, new markets like the Baltic States (Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania). Bosnia and Herzegovina is now in the process of establishing an IAB. They aren’t huge markets in terms of ad spend at the moment, but we believe that IABs are important because they help markets to develop in a normal way. At this point it’s very basic stuff—the kinds of things the U.S. markets were dealing with ten years ago. We want to go in and implement IAB U.S. and IAB Europe guidelines, and in that way strengthen the whole area.

The other, more selfish reason is to create a good information network and to extract all possible value from the network. We’re small IABs—most offices have one or two employees, primarily part-time and volunteer. So we need to be able to localize the experience and research of IAB U.S. and the other more developed markets, markets that are able to create educational programs, for example, and generate really complex market research. We want to use this knowledge—with those markets’ permission, of course—to push these smaller markets forward. That’s why we are organizing meetings and best practice exchanges—to gather content and know-how from the network in order to implement it on a local level.

Does CEE have a website?

Not really. I don’t know how many people you know from this part of the world, but I would say that we are a bit less formal in this sense. We go, we meet, and we’re not sending around CEE business cards or websites, but the real value is that we are friends. We’re friends on Facebook and LinkedIn and exchanging documents on Basecamp, so that if I have questions I can contact someone that I know personally. The response rate is very high—we always help each other out. The problem with more formalized systems is that they need to be maintained, and in my experience, that’s impossible without at least one dedicated person. It doesn’t work on its own. I believe that that’s part of your task, to encourage this exchange of information on a global level. Especially for the smaller IABs, it’s vital.

pic2.jpg(IAB CEE workshop in Siófok, Hungary)

What’s happening within IAB Hungary that might be interesting or useful to the global IAB community?

Well, we’re a small, primarily volunteer organization, but our value is that we color a white spot on the map. In Barcelona, we talked a lot about creating a global ad spend study. I think it’s of great value to the whole network if you can pull relevant data from all of the small markets.

We’re proud of the fact that IAB Hungary was founded at the end of 2008 and now covers 92-94% of the online advertising market. We are a full-spectrum IAB: we have advertisers, tech companies, media, research, agencies. Basically we cover the whole interactive system. We’re also very proud that our working groups are very popular among our members. We have 65 members and eight working groups, with something like 60 or 70% participation rate in each group. We have groups on video, targeting, display, social, search, education, mobile, and we are going to have an expenditure group as well. They’re really great forums here within the market.

You mentioned that, as a small volunteer-based organization, IAB Hungary’s not able to produce a lot of research. Do you think that that will change once you become its first full-time employee?

Absolutely. That’s the goal. When we asked people to apply for the position of general manager of IAB Hungary, the intent was to grow the organization. Eventually we’d like to have three or four people working full-time on the betterment of the Hungarian online advertising market: creating events, becoming active in education, becoming more active in legislative processes, and promoting the industry as much as possible by developing clear and self-explanatory numbers for the market. We are fighting the same issues in that way, I suppose, that you are in the U.S. in that we have many numbers on the Internet, and it’s very complicated. So if we have a chance to talk again at the end of next year, IAB Hungary should be significantly different.

Do you have a first initiative in mind for when you become the GM?

What we really desperately need is to have someone visiting each and every member of IAB Hungary. That’s what I want to do first in August: visit all the members and map their needs and requirements.

What has been the major change or development that you’ve seen in the Hungarian market since IAB Hungary was founded in 2008?

Well, we experienced the financial crisis, so the big change is that we’re seeing growth. From 2008-2009 our market had 7% growth, and in 2009 we saw a 15.9% growth. And the share of the online market is now 16%.

Can you think of any challenges that you’ve faced in terms of market growth and development that are specific to Hungary?

The big challenge here is that we speak a very special language, and we’re a country of 10 million people. Our size is a challenge, for sure. And of course, handling the global players is always a challenge. For instance, we have a local social networking site, but now Facebook is taking over. So that’s an interesting challenge: adapting and cooperating and competing with these big global players.

And of course, as part of the European Union, we are dealing with legislation imposed by Brussels. We’re now fighting the cookie opt-in, opt-out issue. Along with IAB Europe’s initiative, here at the local level we are trying to push the local government to adopt the same values that they’re promoting in Brussels, in order to allow the industry to utilize cookie technologies and analytics.

So do you think that privacy a big issue in Hungary at this point?

Yes. Providing clear numbers to markets is an issue, privacy is an issue, and global players’ presence is an issue. I really think that these are the three main issues facing our market.

Have you found that your members are interested and active in mobile advertising?

Yes, we have a mobile work group that is gathering information. They want to publish materials on promoting advertising in that area. In our AdEx we’ve measured mobile ad spending—it’s not that significant at the moment, but we have a huge mobile penetration, around 100%, so there’s potential. But in terms of advertising we’re a bit behind.

Why do you think that is?

I think advertisers don’t know how to deal with it, how to use it to their advantage and create profit. Our mobile working group is having their second gathering in two weeks, and their main topic is how to measure mobile and discussing what kind of tools we have in the Hungarian market. And then, of course, the other part of our job is to educate advertisers about how to use these new tools more efficiently. We still have loads of text, SMS campaigns, even though people are using smart phones quite a lot.

You mentioned that there was a big dip in market growth in 2008-2009, and large relative increase in growth the following year. What do you think was IAB Hungary’s biggest accomplishment in 2010?

I think it’s been lobbying legislation, so that the regulators of Hungary don’t make it impossible to work within our market. Another major accomplishment was to create a new AdEx methodology, so that the numbers are more sophisticated.

We started our first education modules at IBS, a licensee of Oxford University. The modules are within a master’s in marketing management. It’s a pilot program in which IAB members are giving lectures, and a colleague from the board created the syllabus and course materials. They’ve been really successful.

We’ve also benefited from the IAB Europe efforts: the European AdEx, we distributed the brand advertising white paper, the Consumer Commerce Barometer.

And of course, the CEE study was done by Gemius with IAB Europe, and we were present at all of the big Hungarian events and, through my CEE activities, at most of the regional events. I may sound a bit selfish here, but I think that the CEE workshops were a big accomplishment for IAB Hungary, along with IAB Poland. I can’t say what the investment return is in these cases but I believe that having a great family around is a great value. You can share information with and invite speakers to come to events and send your members to other countries where you know the cream of the industry. I think it’s a great accomplishment, and that we are a leader in the region.

pic3.jpg(IAB CEE workshop in Belgrade, Serbia)

Is there anything that you are hearing consistently from your members in terms of what they want or need from IAB Hungary? What are the pressing issues for your members?

I would say it’s educating the market. Those of us who are putting effort into the IAB are following the trends in the U.S., the U.K. and the most developed markets, and then we come home to the Hungarian market, it’s a bit depressing. We’re thinking to ourselves, “There are sophisticated targeting methods! There are advanced ad serving features! Why aren’t you agencies and advertisers using them?” I think that’s the most frustrating issue for those of us involved in the online advertising industry. The market and the spenders are not aware of what can be done with interactive tools, and I believe that, in our market, the key thing to do is to educate and to promote. We want to say “Here are best practices, here are case studies, here’s the technology. Go! Don’t be afraid!”

And of course, like the bigger markets, getting brand money online is a big challenge as well. Helping brand advertisers to understand online advertising. We need to invest a bit more in the future.

Does IAB Hungary have events outside of professional development events at the moment?

No, at the moment we are closely partnered with the organizers of Reklámkonferencia and Internet Hungary, but our first profit-oriented event is yet to come.

What is that you hope to gain from this global exchange? What do you hope to teach others about Hungary and its market?

For me it’s absolutely the knowledge exchange. We recently had a chance to meet colleagues from Brazil, from Puerto Rico, from Vietnam, all kinds of places that are at a similar level as our market, and they had so many creative ideas and concepts that we can use. And I believe that we have some experience, some research and work from IBS that we can share, so I truly believe in this. I hope that we get to know everyone in the network eventually, and that this can be a motivating experience for me and for all of the IAB colleagues. I think it’s wonderful that if I have an issue or a challenge, I have many people of whom I can ask an opinion, and for me that’s the most important goal: to know the people that are doing the same thing as us and to form a community.

About the Author

sp_block_mary.jpgMary Block

Mary Block is a writer currently living in New York City, and a member of the IAB Global group on LinkedIn. She can be reached on twitter @mary_e_block.


Ernesto Gonzalez, founder and president of IAB Caribbean, shares a few of his impressions from the recent Interact Congress and IAB Global Summit in Barcelona. In the dialogue below, we chat about the ways that Europe inspires him and the ways in which markets of all sizes can propel the digital marketing industry forward.

Mary Block: Did you find the presentations in Europe applicable to you and your market?

Ernesto Gonzalez: Definitely. Everything was really useful. Every day I learned a lot about the different countries and their issues. It doesn’t matter if a person was from Hungary, Poland, Norway, Chile Russia, the U.S. Spain, or Puerto Rico, we are in the same situation in terms of opportunities and growth. Maybe in some countries there are more men than women, for instance, but mostly I found that we are all in the same boat, with the same problems.

When we sat down to discuss the situations of our markets, they were quite similar. The growth of “social” use, for instance, is everywhere; it’s not just the situation in Europe. Mobile advertising, the way that people are using tablets and iPads and the growth of these types of devices is something that is also happening in Puerto Rico and the U.S. It was interesting to see how global these situations are.

What differed were the strategies for approaching these opportunities: how to approach, how to react and teach the market how to use this medium. It was very interesting to see how a brand like Heineken, when they started a social media marketing effort to get to a million fans, they got the idea to send girls to give hugs to people in bars. They were wearing brand t-shirts and saying, “Thank you for helping us get to a million fans.” So it was quite interesting to see how they approached the social media opportunity—connecting to people in bars in the offline world. It was really funny! They showed a great video—ugly guys, common-looking guys getting hugs from these beautiful ladies, and they were all like “What’s going on here? Why is she hugging me?”

I think they’re very open-minded in Europe. They’re open to trying risky things. I think in other markets, people are less inclined to take risks. I think (Europeans) have a more open view of the world. You can see it in the advertising and in the TV there. But again, that’s my perspective.

Roberto Castro, Televisión Nacional de Chile (L) and Ernesto Gonzalez, IAB Carribean (R) at IAB Global Summit e Interact 2011. Courtesy IAB Latm.

MB: What struck you as particularly open-minded?

EG: Well, when I say open-minded, I mean that they really try things that I don’t think corporate America would try. The ads are less conservative. They’re definitely more sexually explicit. They’re willing to try more risky things in Europe than in the U.S., and I think that’s something that we, in these other markets, should remember. In these media, we really have to look beyond the traditional things that we’ve always tried to do.

MB: What have you been doing since you got home to Puerto Rico?

EG: This week I’m trying to go through all of my photos and notes from the trip. There were a lot of things happening! First there was the global meeting. At the global meeting you see people from all over the world, and we all sit down and start talking about how to help our industry, and you find out that we are all part of a global media with the same situations. One may have a bigger market or a smaller market, but at the end of the day, it’s the same situation.

Then I went to the Europe elections. That’s something that not many people have the opportunity to participate in. Frankly I think I was the only one (from outside Europe) that got to participate in the agenda board general assembly of IAB Europe. I really appreciated the opportunity to see how they are organizing the whole region of Europe. That was something that I envisioned a long time ago—when I asked permission to lead IAB Puerto Rico, I saw what Europe was doing. That was four years ago, that I asked them to get IAB Caribbean in place. Puerto Rico being such a small market, I said “We should do IAB Caribbean, like Europe is doing.” So we were the second collective that was created. Then came IAB Latam, an online community, which is still in progress.

MB: What is IAB Latam?

EG: IAB Latam is a networking site that we in the region of Latin America contribute to and have a presence within. I’d like it to grow into more than just a website. If you go to the site now you’ll see pictures of Interact 2011. So in the future we’re looking toward having IAB Europe, IAB Caribbean, IAB Latam, and who knows, maybe IAB Asia!

And all this happened because, a few years ago, I participated in the general assembly of IAB Europe. It was quite interesting to see how they’ve grown from 2008 to 2011—I saw huge growth not only in terms of the countries that are joining the effort, but also in terms of the sponsors that they’re getting. Every year there are more and more sponsors joining the region of IAB Europe, and they are organizing in terms of policies and how they’re working. Because, as you know, they’re based in Belgium, and they’re working with policymakers to make sure that the legislation doesn’t affect the industry negatively. So they’re doing a great job, especially for such a young organization.

I was impressed by how democratic the IAB Europe elections were. Everyone was allowed to say so if they wanted to be a part of the board. The elections were really instructive for me. I think we can learn a lot from them. They have some strong missions for 2012: they want to “Promote, Protect, and Prove” that they are a commanding force in the region. They want to promote the Internet media industry. They want to protect the industry, meaning preventing legislation that will negatively affect the European region. And they want to prove that they are the leaders of the Internet marketing field. For me it was a great experience.

MB: Do you feel that the things you learned at the Congress and at the Global Summit are things that you can fully introduce to the Caribbean market?

EG: Oh definitely! They have a white paper, Mobile Media; Consumer Insights Across Europe, that I found particularly useful. Of course they always say that the mobile market in Europe is more advanced than any other markets. I think that’s true, but still in its early stages. Maybe the penetration is bigger, but in terms of advertising, you know, they’re moving, but I don’t think it’s like, “Wow, they are way, way, way ahead of us!” You know?

MB: So these insights are applicable across a global spectrum. It’s not like Europe is so far ahead that other markets can’t relate and share information.

EG: No, no no. I think it’s completely applicable. I don’t see them as Pluto and me as Mars. We’re much closer in terms of opportunity. Again, I find it’s the same situation requiring a different approach.

MB: How would your approach differ? For instance, is there anything, strategy-wise, that they can do in Europe right now that we can’t do in Latin America or in the United States?

EG: No. I don’t think they’re doing anything over there that we can’t do over here. That’s my way of seeing it. I can apply everything I learned there about how they’re approaching their market. Definitely. The implementation might differ from market to market. But they’re talking about things that we’re talking about on this side of the world: gaming, real-time web, TV and how it’s moving—that will be the next big thing. They’re talking about mobile, locals like Foursquare—the multi-faceted communication links. Again, it’s the way that creative approaches these opportunities that differs. I think (Europeans) have really good taste and an open mindset.

MB: Do you feel that the various global perspectives present in Barcelona were utilized fully?

EG: Completely. Completely. We networked and found that we shared the same problems, and learned from each other about how to approach them. It felt like one big community. Good ideas came from the smallest countries and the biggest countries. Puerto Rico is a market of roughly 4 million people; the Caribbean market is still not that big. But I sat down and talked with people from Spain and Mexico, which are huge markets. We can still collaborate and share ideas.

MB: What’s one idea that really stands out in your mind from your collaborations with larger and smaller markets?

EG: Well, at this event I really felt like more of a spectator, because it was Europe’s event, but I can tell you that in our meetings, we always push to exchange ideas. For instance, at the meeting in New York, our country was the one who really supported this IAB Latam effort, and pushed larger countries like Mexico and Chile to do it. That’s part of the global idea: the effort and the energy can come from anywhere, not just from the big ones.

So what I really appreciated from this event and from the U.S. events is the opportunity to talk and to share ideas. For instance, it was so interesting to speak to the marketing manager from Heineken, which is based in The Netherlands, as you know. It was great to see their approach to online and social media. It was also interesting to hear from a company like Orange, another great presentation. Their marketing director spoke about mobile marketing and about TV and how TV is moving.

MB: What was the thing that you were most excited about telling other people when you got back to San Juan from Barcelona?

EG: The first thing I thought was, “Wow. We need to keep working as hard for our industry as they are in Europe.” I’m in the process of planning a global event here, and I can’t wait to invite all of them to come to Puerto Rico in March! I’ve invited speakers to come from Spain, Hungary, and all over Europe and the U.S. to fly to the Caribbean and join us at our big event in March. So I feel that I really need to work hard and harder to make it a great event. I would be thrilled for my friends from Europe to come by and see this side of the world.

MB: What do you hope to be able to share with them in Puerto Rico?

EG: Basically I want them to see what I’m seeing—that no matter how big or small the market is, we are one community. We can all help each other.

I hope that they’ll learn from our culture the way that I learned from theirs. Some people think that the Caribbean is just beaches, rum, and parties, but we are a well-educated people with a strong economy and good facilities. We’re much more than beaches and rum—we’re a bridge to the New World. Their ancestors, when they came to the New World, stopped first in the Caribbean. My goal is to show that Puerto Rico and the Caribbean are still that bridge into markets on this side of the world.

For instance, I’ve encountered some businesses that don’t have any efforts in the U.S. or in Latin America, they’re only focused in Europe. I wondered why, and I realized that they need to have this link. They need to meet people like us to develop links to help their businesses grow. I think the IAB can help these companies to establish themselves and create this economic interchange. They need us and we need them. I think it’s a big step in the right direction to improve networking between the Old World and the New World, and the IAB is making that possible.

Originally from Miami, Mary Block is a writer currently living in New York City, and a member of the IAB Global group on LinkedIn. She can be reached on twitter @mary_e_block.

Bianca Loew, IAB Mexico

In the IAB’s inaugural “IAB Global” interview I chat with Bianca Loew, the leader of IAB Mexico. Bianca, a native of Germany who’s found a home in the Distrito Federal, was IAB Mexico’s first employee. She helped to grow it from a scrappy startup with eight members in 2005 to the robust, 140-member collective that it is today. Bianca shares insights she’s gained from developing standards and strategies in an emerging market, as well as her hopes and goals for our global dialogue.

Mary Block: So how did you end up in Mexico?

Bianca Loew: Oh well, that’s a long story. I came for the first time when I was 19 years old. I was working as an au pair for a couple of months in Mexico City. Then I came back for an exchange program from my university in Germany, and started working in the dot com world in 1999. I started working for some startups. After I finished university in Germany I was offered a six-month program in Mexico, and I never left.

MB: How long has it been since the six-month project?

BL: Almost nine years. It’s been good! Mexico has treated me very well.

MB: When you went to Mexico initially, was it to work with IAB?

BL: No, I didn’t know the IAB existed at that point. I started working with the IAB in 2005, when the IAB in Mexico was founded. It was an initiative of Yahoo and Prodigy MSN, the local MSN here. So they hired me to set up the IAB in Mexico, and I actually never planned to stayed that long, but now it’s been more than six years with this adventure! It’s been great.

MB: So you’ve always been the head of the IAB Mexico office.

BL: Yep! I’ve been here since day one. I was IAB Mexico’s first employee. At that point, Greg Stuart was managing the IAB in the US, and he told me that IAB Mexico was the first IAB to have an official license from the IAB in the US, to carry the name and the logo. So there were some IABs before us, but IAB Mexico, I’m told, was the first one with a signed licensing agreement. So we’re very proud of that!

MB: Where were you before you were asked to be the head of the IAB?

BL: Right before then I was working for Solutions Abroad, which is an Internet company that caters to the foreign market here in Mexico. And before that I was involved in some startups: I was a marketing manager at Submarino, which is like the Amazon of Latin America, and I started—you know I started, which is the same thing as Babycenter, but for Mexico. I started that with Martha Debayle, who’s very famous here in Mexico, and I was there for a year and a half. But I think the most important step in my career was the IAB itself. It’s been six years. I’m thirty-five years old, so still pretty young, but before that I was trying things out here and there. There was no place that I stayed longer than a year and a half. But I’ve been here for six and a half years, so that speaks for itself. It’s been a great leap in my career, and the IAB Mexico, for me, is like a child that I brought to life and helped to grow up here in Mexico. So there’s a very strong emotional attachment to it for me.

MB: What would you say that the primary initiatives of the IAB in Mexico are?

BL: Currently, we focus on three pillars. One is education: everything to do with educating marketers, agencies, and people within the industry itself. The second pillar is research: like the IAB in the US and other IABs, we generate several studies throughout the year. The third is best practices and guidelines, where all the standards fall in.

I think our most important project is education. Our IAB Conecta event is our annual congress, which we’ve been doing for six years now. It’s growing every year: nowadays it’s an event that 1,000 people attend. We think it’s definitely the most important event in the region. I better not say that out loud, though—Apple might think that theirs is the most important or something. It’s definitely a very important event, though, and for Mexico the most significant one. I think one of the things that makes the IAB Conecta event different is that half of the audience are marketers, primarily Mexican companies. We invite 500 marketers, so that practically guarantees that we fulfill our mission, which is to educate and to bring more advertising dollars to the table.

MB: Who are some marketers that attend?

BL: Well of course we try to go as high as possible, so it’s the main brands here in Mexico: Unilever, Proctor & Gamble, Coca-Cola, Dell. And of course some local companies, but mainly it’s big brands. Brand directors, marketing directors, and CMOs attend, so it’s very exciting—half of the audience is marketing people. Our speakers are always international—we have speakers from the IAB board in the U.S. and some speakers from Europe. So that’s a way that we differentiate ourselves from other Mexican events. Often with regional events, it’s the same people speaking from local companies. So we like to bring in talent from abroad. Randall Rothenberg is going to be here this summer, which we’re really looking forward to. It’s the most important event of the year for us, and I’m very happy that we’ve received such a great response to it from the U.S. and from other countries.

Another education program that we have is our diplomado in marketing interactivo, which is a four-month certificate program that we design and that we teach. We have an alliance with the Tec de Monterrey, which is one of the most prestigious universities in Mexico. The course is in its ninth generation, so we’ve now graduated about 330 people.

MB: That’s fantastic. What sorts of things are in the course curriculum?

BL: There’s a legal part, there’s creativity, market intelligence, online media planning, online strategy integration, search marketing, mobile marketing…so it’s a crash course in the most important aspects of online advertising. Every module has a different professor, usually an industry expert from one of our member companies.

MB: And there are a lot of people within the IAB Mexico that want to teach?

BL: Yeah! They love doing it. We have a very high level of interest in teaching the course. And we’ve negotiated a revenue share with the university, so it’s actually a revenue stream for us.

MB: That’s a really great idea.

BL: Another one of our education initiatives is “Digital Days,” which we started last year. They’re one-day, crash course seminars that we host in our own space—we have a 30-seat auditorium. We have at least two each month, and they’ve been very popular lately.

MB: Who generally attends? Is there a difference between the diplomado course and the Digital Days in terms of their students?

BL: Well, the students in the diplomado course are really serious about it.

MB: Right. And are they undergraduate students, or people already established in the industry?

BL: It’s mostly people with established careers in the industry. It’s only open, I believe, to people that have a communications or marketing or business degree already. But everyone is welcome to attend the Digital Days. It’s mainly people from member companies, clients, advertisers, agency people. It’s a very mixed crowd.

MB: In the six years that you’ve been at the IAB, have you noticed any major shifts in within the Mexican marketplace?

BL: Oh, it’s a big difference. In the beginning, when we started the IAB and we started talking to advertisers and marketers, they weren’t even listening to us. They were like, “OK, sure” and showing us the door. They saw (digital advertising) as a sort of crazy fashion thing going on. Nowadays, it doesn’t matter which company you talk to—they all know digital is crucial for their business. Everyone has digital on their agenda. Nowadays the CMO of Coca-Cola calls us up. He didn’t do that five years ago.

There’s a lot more interest; there are more players now in the market now, as there are in the U.S. and everywhere. It’s more advanced now, there’s more media. There definitely are more users. For example, this year there are 5 million more Internet users in Mexico than there were a year ago. So now we’re talking about a market of 40 million people. When we started it was about 20.

Mobile is really starting to take off, and mobile was something that people weren’t even mentioning 2, 3 years ago. Now “mobile” is the big buzz word. Even though the numbers are still very small, everybody knows that, especially in the emerging markets, mobile will be crucial. Today, not everybody here in Mexico has a computer or access to a computer, but everybody has a mobile phone. There has been a big, big movement over the past 6 years, and I feel fortunate to have been a part of it.

MB: Have you seen any real challenges to the growth of the interactive advertising industry in Mexico?

BL: I don’t know if this is specific to Mexico, but probably specific to the emerging markets: you don’t have 80% of the population online. It’s about 35% right now. The broadband connections are not that advanced, not as powerful as in Europe or the U.S., although it’s not modem dial-up anymore. The companies are only now starting to offer big data plans. So that’s definitely been an obstacle. And of course there’s resistance to change, like in other markets. People are comfortable with what they’ve been doing for 20 years and they don’t want to change it.

One of the biggest problems for Mexico, probably the biggest barrier to online advertising, has been the power of the TV broadcast companies. Televisa and TV Azteca practically rule the market. I mean, they have their digital sites as well, but they’re very very small in comparison to TV, and they attract more than 50, almost 60% of the advertising dollars. They’re very powerful. They have a lot of power with the advertisers and with the agencies. For other media, it’s very difficult to compete. But I have to say, our IAB president right now, Juan Saldivar, is from Televisa Interactive, so he’s running their digital site. So there’s a good side to this, in that he’s leading the Interactive Advertising Bureau with lots of success.

MB: So some integration and progress is being made.

BL: Oh yeah. Absolutely. Everybody has their digital strategy, including Televisa.

MB: Do you find that privacy is a big issue in Mexico?

BL: Not as much as in the U.S, at least not right now. It’s not a main subject on our agenda. We are more focused on research and education and getting standards out there. Which I think you’ll find when you talk to other folks in Latin America. We don’t have anybody in congress; we don’t do lobbying. We know that at some point we have to tap into the whole privacy issue, but it’s not the priority of the board right now. We don’t have these threats that you guys have in the U.S. right now, but it’s important to mention that we are closely following all the happenings in the U.S. and in Europe, so we know when we have to react and take action.

MB: How many members does IAB Mexico have?

BL: Right now we have 142; that’s the latest number I’ve heard. And we started in 2005 with eight members. In February 2010 we reached the hundred-member mark, and now there are 140. Every year is the new best year for us in terms of members and revenue. So there has been some good growth.

MB: What are you hearing consistently from your members in terms of their needs? Are there issues that you’re able to address, or that you’re working on being able to address?

BL: We’ve picked up on the Rising Stars program that you guys in the U.S. are doing. We’re really pushing it to the market because there’s definitely a need that has been identified. The program has had a lot of echo here in Mexico. We have lots of request from our members for new studies. Additionally, I would love to do a cross-media study soon, maybe one like the TV + Online study that they’ve been doing successfully in the U.K.

IAB-Mexico-Team-Pic.jpgThe IAB Mexico team

MB: Does IAB Mexico host an award event, or any other events outside the professional development events you’ve mentioned?

BL: Yeah! We have the Conecta Awards—Premios IAB Conecta. They’re similar to the IAB Mixx Awards in the U.S.—we’re working with the same criteria that you guys use in the U.S. We’ve been running the awards now for three years, and in this third year we had 197 campaigns registered. That’s over 100% more than last year, when we had about 90 campaigns. So the awards are growing each year, and we’re also trying to improve the methodology of how the judges qualify the campaigns. We just had the awards in April.

MB: Who won the Best in Show award?

BL: Well, the Best in Show was not given. We’re very, very demanding. We’re not choosing a Best in Show just to say we have a Best in Show, but because they really deserve it. But the Agency of the Year was Grupo W, which is a Mexican agency. So they won the Agency of the Year Award for the second time. Our Marketer of the Year was Unilever for the second time. Grupo W and Ogilvy were the two agencies that really stuck out.

MB: What are you most hoping to learn from this new global exchange?

BL: Specifically, I’m looking forward to reading studies that have been successful that other locations have done. And measurements and standards—I think we have a long way to go in terms of standards, and of course I know what the U.S. and U.K. are doing, but it would be great to know what others are doing. I think IAB Mexico can be a great example of education initiatives for others.

I think it’s going to be great for all the IABs to learn and to get a better sense of what the others are doing. Of course there are some IABs that talk more to specific others, especially if they’re located near each other, but I think it’s great that the U.S. is taking the initiative to get everybody together, to send out the questionnaire. I think there are a lot of IABs that have just started that can take advantage of the experience of others. And of course I’m curious to see what other IABs are doing, and to be inspired by them.

*Key links from IAB Mexico:

  • Media Consumption Study 2010 an annual study to explore the internet habits and behavior of Mexicans online (Spanish)

  • Ad Effectiveness Study 2010 a study undertaken with Dynamic Logic to measure the effectiveness of an online campaign by Procter and Gamble (Spanish)

  • Advertisers Survey an annual survey of advertisers in Mexico about their plans for the forthcoming year (Spanish)

Bianca Loew, General Manager of IAB Mexico, can be reached on Twitter @Bianca_IABmx and @IABMexico.

Originally from Miami, Mary Block is a writer currently living in New York City, and a member of the IAB Global group on LinkedIn. She can be reached on twitter @mary_block.