What Polar Vortex? DC Mashup Debates Viewability and More

Blizzards, polar vortexes (vortices?) – simply minor obstacles when it comes to bringing ad ops professionals together for deliberation and… Well, what’s deliberation without a little drinking? 

Even in a place like DC, where two inches of snow shuts down the federal government faster than a budget dispute. (As a friend noted, “The government’s closed, but the bars and Chipotles are definitely open.” Most likely Jumbo Slice as well.) I know about the District’s crippling fear of winter percipitation my 27 years of living in the Washington, DC, metropolitan area. (Kudos to any of you that thought I hadn't even reached 27 years of age.) During my schoolboy days, a few afternoon flurries seemed to guarantee there’d be no school the next day. 

In fact, during our AdMonsters DC Mashup, panelist Jeff Burkett, Senior Director of Sales Operations and Product Strategy at The Washington Post, received a text from his son stating that school had been canceled for the rest of the week. Yup, a northern Virginia county decided that on a Wednesday.

But snow and biting cold would not delay our first (hopefully of many) DC Mashups, graciously hosted by The Washington Post and sponsored by Intermarkets. And let me tell you, it was blisteringly cold – it made me miss the weather in New York. So I must salute the folks from Politico, Remedy Health Media, Infinitive, National Journal, National Public Media and more for braving the weather to add to a fantastic night of digital media conversation. I listened in on numerous small discussions around ad server issues, working with new providers, tag trouble and more. There is a great local ad ops community in DC, and I can’t wait to come back.

The main attraction, though, was a panel including Burkett and Angie Teates, EVP of Business Operations at Remedy Health Media (who gets extra credit for escaping her snowed-in neighborhood). Viewability was the first topic of discussion, as not only is it the hottest issue for the first half of 2014, but also Burkett headed a popular session at last year’s Publisher Forum in Boulder detailing an experiment that highlighted measurement discrepancies from the various providers.

The Media Ratings Council is dead set on lifting its advisory against transacting on viewability at the end of first quarter 2014, but measurement methods are all over the map. Burkett and Teates have both found creative ways to get ahead of the train (wreck?). When deploying responsive design on its sites, Remedy Health Media switched to a “lazy load” style of ad serving that waits to serve until the ad space is in view. Washington Post executes “just-in-time” ad serving, with ads that load as the user scrolls down the page.

We also talked a bit about my recent article on WebSpectator and the idea of time as a metric. Burkett pushes sales people to stress engagement metrics – time exposed, hover, etc. – over viewability. Through Moat, which has some similar offerings as WebSpectator, Washington Post gets a plethora of metrics for intriguing buyers. However, keeping on top of the sheer amount of data is a task all itself.

Also adding to the viewability discussion was Jason Kint, former SVP at CBS Interactive and a member of the Making Measurement Make Sense (3MS) Initiative, who offered an insider’s perspective. And Erik Requidan, Director of Sales at InterMarkets and previously Director of Emerging Media at WashingtonTimes.com, shared great insight garnered from InterMarkets’ unique work with publishers. 

This was only the beginning of a meaty discussion that also touched programmatic direct (is 2014 THE BIG YEAR?), mobile challenges (particularly regarding pharmaceutical advertisers who have to jump through a lot of legal hoops to get creative approved) and even native. I was impressed we could cover so much ground in under an hour, and an active audience made the discussion all the more absorbing.

I hope the DC ad ops folk found the night as interesting as I did, and the networking appeared to be in high gear until we closed shop at 9:30 pm. Our thanks is extended again to The Washington Post, Remedy Health Media and Intermarkets for helping us put the DC Mashup together. It felt like a real victory for AdMonsters, as we’ve been aiming to expand our Mashup series outside of New York in 2014.

So where next? You tell me! The AdMonsters Content team would be delighted to help bring together your local ad ops community. Reach out, and we’ll start working on it today.

Related Event: 
Publisher Forum XXXII


Gavin Dunaway is Senior Editor for AdMonsters’ Content Team. Previously he served as Senior Editor for interactive advertising trade news depot Adotas.com, and before that he held reporting and editing roles for numerous industry-related publications. When not diligently producing news and feature articles related to ad ops, he enjoys playing guitar so loud that the walls shake. Follow him, if you dare, on Twitter at @AdMonsterGavin.


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