After 14 Years, IAB Is Getting a New CEO

David Cohen will take the reins from Randall Rothenberg

david cohen
David Cohen has served as president of IAB since March. IAB
Headshot of Kathryn Lundstrom

The Interactive Advertising Bureau today announced that David Cohen, the trade organization’s current president, will take over for Randall Rothenberg as chief executive officer of both IAB and IAB Tech Lab on Sept. 15. Rothenberg will stay on as executive chair through 2022.

Cohen joined IAB in March from Magna, Interpublic Group’s centralized media intelligence, investment and innovation arm, where he also served as president.

“In less than a year as president of IAB, David Cohen has vastly increased the size of our media marketplaces, brought an unprecedented number of industry captains into our leadership councils, transformed the timeliness of our strategic initiatives and injected new enthusiasm into our already energetic leadership team,” said Rothenberg in a statement.

Cohen’s leadership will take IAB and the industry “through the economic recovery and ultimately to the next level of growth,” Rothenberg added.

As CEO, Cohen will report to the IAB board of directors, which is currently chaired by Rik van der Kooi, corporate vp at Microsoft Advertising, on an interim basis.

The changing of the guard at IAB—after Rothenberg’s 14-year reign—comes at a time when the industry is facing some of its most profound and difficult questions.

Digital advertising is on the cusp of several foundational changes, from the sunsetting of the third-party cookie and the widespread adoption of 5G technology to appeasing demands for stricter data privacy practices. In addition, the terms of the digital landscape are increasingly dictated by four main players, requiring all other actors to adjust according to any changes laid out by those rulers—one particularly prescient example being the looming release of Apple’s iOS 14.

In his short tenure with IAB, Cohen has already launched two programs that touch on some of these issues: the Tele://Vision campaign, which aims to update the way that TV ads are bought and sold; and News Saves Lives, which urges advertisers to remove terms associated with Covid-19 from keyword blocklists so that news organizations don’t suffer unnecessarily from ill-conceived brand safety initiatives amid the pandemic.

“Bringing together publishers, brands and agencies for the common good has been rewarding, and we are just getting started. I continue to be energized by the innovation and entrepreneurial spirit of the media, marketing and advertising industries,” said Cohen in a statement.

“We are boosting our focus on dramatically increasing our brand, agency and publisher presence across all IAB activities,” he continued. “My buy-side experience has shown me that connecting all those dots is critical for industry collaboration, agenda-setting and leadership.”

Prior to his stint at Magna, Cohen spent 10 years at Universal McCann, another IPG-owned agency. He served in a number of pivotal roles between 2001 and 2011, including chief investment officer, chief media officer, chief digital officer and U.S. director of digital communications.

@klundster Kathryn Lundstrom is Adweek's breaking news reporter based in Austin.