If there was any doubt that Washington has more influence over the ad industry than ever, just check out Bob Liodice’s opening statement before the Association of National Advertisers' annual policy conference in Washington, D.C.
“If we don’t win in Washington, nothing else matters,” the ANA’s president and CEO said.
The ad industry has a strong case to make in Washington; it does a lot of good, generating $6 trillion of economic activity and 15 percent of employment. But it’s the social good that often gets questioned, noted Liodice.
“We’ve been on the defensive,” he admitted, both on food guidelines to help curb the obesity epidemic and on consumer privacy protections for online behavioral advertising.
“In both of those instances, we came up with incredible self-regulatory processes that worked. But we had to get our tail kicked along the line,” Liodice continued.
Even though the industry would rather the government stay out of its business, Liodice explained that oversight plays a necessary role: “Government can be good. They can provide the level of guidance we need for our industry because we can get lost on our way.”
For example, the ad industry is looking for guidance on dealing with patent trolls, an issue that's becoming a higher priority. “We’re going to need to align with the government to fix our patent troll issue,” Liodice said. “It’s costing our industry millions and millions of dollars and is robbing us of our creative potential because people are getting sued.”
To stay ahead of the government, the industry will need to collaborate more on self-regulation, or it will run into problems like it has most recently on privacy.
“We’ve run into issues within our own industry—Microsoft coming forward with a different perspective of Do Not Track, Mozilla blocking third-party cookies. This isn’t the way we should operate,” Liodice said. “We need to work in advance of these decisions. We make our own messes sometimes.”