LOS ANGELES – The year 2017 could see set-top box and other forms of addressable advertising become truly scalable, while a great deal of work is still to be done on creative versioning of campaigns. That’s the prognosis of GroupM Chairman Irwin Gotlieb, who doesn’t think media owners should be thrown “under the bus” because of headline-grabbing digital brand safety issues.

“I think it’s becoming more viable and scalable every day,” Gotlieb says of set-top box, dynamic ad and smart TV addressability that can “aggregate a pretty substantial chunk of the population. I think this is the year that it becomes a truly scalable proposition.”

In this interview with Beet.TV at the annual Transformation conference of the 4A’s, Gotlieb goes on to explain that GroupM’s initial focus on addressable ad targeting has been with clients that can do the “cleanest and quickest attribution” and for whom the value of an acquisition is highest. He cites financial, automobiles and the studio sector because the data are reasonably good and closed-loop attribution can be accomplished.

“Once that gets laid down properly, we will scale it out to the broader client list,” he says.

Creative versioning is something “we need to do a great deal of work on,” Gotlieb adds. “There are a couple of technologies that we’re working on that will enable things like segmentation. More to come.”

On the issue of brand safety, he says one’s response to recent headlines about digital ads appearing alongside objectionable content depends on “when you arrived at the party. We arrived at the party a long, long time ago.”

He goes on to outline the steps GroupM had taken to blacklist websites that “thrived from privacy violations” and once that list had been established “we began to add to that from a brand safety perspective.”

Gotlieb expresses wonder at “those people who are just waking up to brand safety issues,” citing the appointment last year of John Montgomery as Chief Brand Safety Officer.

“I don’t think the issue is one that we can throw the media owners under the bus on,” he says. “I think we have to take some responsibility for it and we have to work collaboratively to provide an ecosystem that is friendlier to our clients.”

This video is part of series produced in Los Angeles at the 4A’s Transformation ’17. The series is sponsored by Extreme Reach. For more videos from the conference, please visit this page.