What to expect from IAB Caribe

I recently caught wind of evidence that the local chapter of the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) has sprung to life. As long as we're discussing Internet Advertising and Marketing, then I'd be incomplete if I didn't examine the organization and provide recommendations.

First let's start by introducing the IAB, since 1996 this non-profit has been dedicated to the growth of the interactive advertising marketplace, of interactive’s share of total marketing spend, and of its members’ share of total marketing spend.

As I mentioned, the Puerto Rico chapter of the IAB has recently sprung to life. Which is a good thing, because it has been dormant since established back in 2005. As identified by this recent article in El Nuevo Dia (sorry it looks like they put that article behind their pay wall), the local chapter recently held an event, "2do IAB Digital Networking." From the looks of it, everyone enjoyed themselves.

Caveat Emptor

Let's start off with that old refrain, "Let the buyer beware." Why did I start there? Well, let's look at a few things:

The great (or worst) thing about the Internet is that it never forgets anything. So from this evidence we can see that they've only been active on the Internet for a short period of time. While I know most of the leaders have been active on the Internet for much longer, as an organization it looks like they're just getting started. I'd like to welcome them to the conversation and look forward to substantive contributions from them.

Non-profits in Puerto Rico

My impression, however, is that the young organization may be falling into the trap so many other non-profits have. Locally, there is the tendency to only participate in non-profits of this nature only as a way to directly improve your own business. However, in my opinion, you can not serve two masters; you can not attempt to directly grow your business while also spearheading an organization that aims to grow your company's industry.

Don't get me wrong, I understand that participation in any organization of this nature is about growing your company. It's just that it becomes counter-productive when all the members of the organization do is attempt to "lure" new business to their activities and then fight amongst themselves trying to "steal" the business for themselves. In short, another example of zero-sum thinking. Instead of saying I'm going to help make more pie, people just fight over the existing pie, trying to get as much pie as possible for themselves.


While it may be too early to tell, I'm getting a bad feeling about the local chapter of the IAB. I'm sure it's nothing, but something from their tweet history gives me reason to be wary. One of their tweets is: "1ra regla: Se autentico." From reading the article in El Nuevo Dia, I'd say, please return to rule one. To be authentic is to be worthy of trust, reliance, or belief. I find it somewhat disingenuous that the local IAB Caribe chapter uses statistics from the U.S. IAB, and fails to spell out that Puerto Rico does not actually contribute to those statistics. If someone only did a quick scan of the article, they might believe that interactive marketing in Puerto Rico represents 9% of total ad spending. The last time I checked, it's more like less than 1%.

I also found this new article announcing the opening of the IAB Caribe chapter in Puerto Rico at the Caribbean Business website. In the article they report that:
"Among the first projects the local IAB chapter has in the pipeline is the commissioning of a market research study to determine how much investment in the online advertising sector has grown in Puerto Rico in recent years."
Not to poke fun, but the first project is the "commissioning of," hehe, you certainly can tell that sales executives are involved in this project. I think "completion of" would sound more definitive. Had it been a bunch of senior executives, I'm sure it would have been the "creation of a committee to study the need of." Just to be fair, if it had been a bunch of computer programmers, then it would have been the "collection of and analysis of sales data in order to determine the validity of." Also if a study has never been done before, shouldn't the first step be to establish the baseline level of investment first? How can you establish growth when you have nothing to compare it against?

In the end, I think the proof will be in the pudding. If the local IAB chapter delivers a cogent and honest examination of the local online advertising sector by early Q1 next year (their stated deadline), then perhaps they will have something substantive to add to the conversation. If not, then we can probably only expect fancy cocktail parties, networking activities, and generally more of the same (zero-sum thinking) as we've seen from other local Internet organizations like the Internet Society of Puerto Rico.