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Online-ad industry group reinvents itself

With the industry in disarray, the Internet Advertising Bureau is doing some spring cleaning, starting with its name--the I in IAB now stands for Interactive.

With the online-advertising industry in disarray, its main representative body is doing some spring cleaning.

The Internet Advertising Bureau unveiled a laundry list of changes to its outfit Tuesday, starting with a new name. The I in the IAB now stands for Interactive in an effort to "embrace all of the major digital interactive advertising platforms, including the Internet, wireless and interactive television," IAB Chairman Rich LeFurgy said in a statement.

This change will help the organization limit its membership to companies that sell interactive advertising. Specifically, IAB affiliates and associates, which include ad agencies and other associations, will no longer be eligible for membership.

The group also broke its formal relationship with the Wireless Advertising Association (WAA) and instigated a fixed, annual membership meeting. The group's upcoming agenda includes creating new ad measurement guidelines and researching the effectiveness of online advertising.

Many of the association's changes have been criticized as coming too late into a $8 billion online industry. Since the market downturn a year ago, the nascent industry for online advertising has been under attack. As ad sales have declined, causing many Internet companies to close shop or cut staff, questions about the viability of the medium have grown.

The moves follow several other shifts for the advertising association. Earlier this year, the IAB hired its first-ever chief executive in a push to graduate from a volunteer organization to a professionally run group. In February, it issued its first new guidelines for Internet ad units in five years. Not long after that the IAB pinned down terms and conditions for Internet advertising served by publishers in conjunction with the American Association of Advertising Agencies (AAAA).

The group severed its relationship with the WAA to better focus on representing the interests of publishers. The WAA became a unit of the IAB in 2000 after the Wireless Advertising Industry Association (WAIA) and the IAB's Wireless Advertising Council (WAC) merged.

Tuesday's announcement included formally naming IAB Chief Executive Robin Webster as president and chief executive of the newly named organization.

"Our recent announcements and the agenda we have laid out for the near term should send a clear signal to the industry that the IAB and its members are dedicated to helping the interactive-advertising business operate at peak performance and with one voice," Webster said.

The IAB, founded in 1996 to embody the newest ad medium in nearly 40 years, also called for new members to its board of directors, who will serve three-year terms. The group's annual meeting this year, to be held in New York in August, will coincide with the Jupiter Online Advertising Forum.