All Articles Leadership Advertising Leadership Series: Q-and-A with IAB VP Anna Bager

Advertising Leadership Series: Q-and-A with IAB VP Anna Bager

5 min read


SmartBrief, as part of its Advertising Week coverage, is interviewing top executives at the 4A’s, IAB, MMA and ANA.

In the third post of the series, Interactive Advertising Bureau Vice President Anna Bager discusses how video is reshaping the digital advertising landscape and how IAB works to stay on top this ever-changing space.

Be sure to join SmartBrief’s e-mail list for daily updates on advertising, Web marketing, mobile, social media and more.

We’re chatting with you on the second day of Ad Week, so let’s start with that. What do you see as the big takeaway from this year’s events?

The conference that we’re putting on here is focused on art, beauty and invoking emotion in people. There’s been so much talk about automation and technology in industry, and it’s a big part of what we do, and it can be a great help. But it can also lead to tools that create something artistic. What I hope resonates with the rest of Ad Week is that advertising can be something beautiful, and today, with new technology, we can reach people in a much better way.

The Internet advertising space moves so quickly. How do you stay up to date?

We work closely with our membership as well as partners such as the ANA and the 4A’s. And technology is really important when it comes to online advertising. It moves fast, so it’s easy to feel that you’re always one step behind. What we’re doing now with the IAB Tech Lab is really trying to invest our resources in the tech space. We’re also focusing on new platforms such as video and mobile and how they integrate into the full interactive advertising mix. Finally, we are really staying updated by constantly doing research and take a close look at what consumers are doing because things are moving so fast now when it comes to media consumption.

What do you see as the IAB’s role in the advertising ecosystem?

Our mission is to help the digital ecosystem thrive. The industry is growing so fast, and there is so much opportunity. There really is enough for everyone. What we want to do is make sure everybody thrives and it’s not just a few parties. We’re really want to spread the wealth. Just because something is growing, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s growing evenly or as fast as it can.

How is video disrupting online advertising as we know it?

We are at a point now where everything is changing when it comes to our consumption of moving pictures. Video, both long and short form, is clearly growing. We’re consuming more and more media on devices, including mobile phones and tablets. Video is a clear disruptor. It’s a huge opportunity for the interactive advertising industry, especially with the shift from TV to digital platforms.
But, you can’t silo video out. Just like mobile, it’s all interconnected. If you really make the most of it, you can make a lot of money and have fantastic marketing and branding. It’s not just about advertising. It’s about reaching the user with something very powerful and very rich. You have to really think about the intersection of all the different platforms, and then video is just a part of it.

What is the biggest challenge you face in your role as the head of the Mobile Marketing Center of Excellence at IAB?

I’ve been with the IAB for 3 1/2 years and I head what is sort of a mini IAB within the IAB. We create standards, thought leadership and public policy specifically for mobile. A big part of what we do is make sure mobile is part of the rest of the IAB agenda so that it is not completely siloed. We try to make sure we are a mobile-first organization.
When I started, the biggest challenge was that people didn’t believe in mobile. There were only a few players that were in this space. Then interest started growing, and then it completely changed. Now everybody wants to find a solution quickly, and that makes it hard to. What annoys me most is this market sentiment that only a few companies can make money on mobile, so the opportunity is lost for everyone else. I don’t think that’s true. A few years ago, nobody made money on mobile. People were laughing at Facebook, and now they are making a lot of money. The changes are an indication of what is to come. The problem is people are giving up before they fail, but there are a lot of people interested in the opportunity.

What advice do you have for marketers hoping to jump in?

What’s important for marketers is to not view mobile and video as experiments. Make sure that you add them to your overall media mix. And really try. Don’t try small, try big, so you really can see the results. Be prepared to reorganize a little bit. Think about what sort of talent you need in this new world. Be willing to take a little risk, because there is great gain. And if you don’t do it, it could be fatal.