5 Questions for Rob Deichert, Jr., The Weather Channel

Rob Deichert Jr., Senior Vice President of Ad Operations at The Weather Channel, will be presenting a Focus Session: Publisher Success Across Multiple Platforms: The Operations Opportunity at OPS in NY on September 30, 2010. In advance of the event we asked him a few questions about multiple delivery platforms and ad serving.

1) Can you briefly talk about your responsibilities as SVP of Ad Operations at the Weather Channel?

RD: I’m responsible for the ad operations of our websites, desktop applications, as well as our mobile apps and sites. In addition to this I also am responsible for the pricing, inventory, and yield management for these platforms.

2) Devices such as the iPad have created new delivery channels for content and therefore new revenue streams for content owners. In your presentation you will be speaking more about how ad operations can tackle managing campaigns across multiple platforms. I want to ask you about one piece of that – ad serving. Where do you feel that the ad serving piece of that is currently in its evolution?

RD: I’m going to invoke my once-in-a-blue-moon sports analogy on this one, and anyone who knows me knows this is a rare treat since I don’t follow sports. I’d say we’re in the middle of the draft, there is so much excitement around the iPad which also brings innovation, new formats, and new companies. Each company wants to be the gold standard, everyone wants to leverage the unique capabilities. We’re breaking new ground here, and in many cases this means systems aren’t as hardened as normal banner ad serving for example.

3) What is your view on multiple ad servers for multiple content platforms? Does it make sense or would it be better to manage as many of the ad products as possible through a central ad server?

RD: I’m all about revenue, thus I’m open to multiple servers if that’s what is needed to capture the revenue. In an ideal world it would be one single system with great links into the buy side. This would make it easier to create a scaled campaign. The reality is that each platform has unique capabilities, and each requires platform-specific creative to be tested and loaded. The other sticky wicket on this topic is the different platforms measurement systems. For example an iPad app could be used offline, – the consumer still consumes the ad, but are conventional ad servers ready to handle that?

4) In your experience has it become more challenging for agencies to deliver special assets for cross platform advertising deals? Has the Flash, HTML 5 support on these devices been a factor?

RD: There is no question this is an issue. Every year for the past ten has been the year of mobile advertising. The Weather Channel is one of the biggest mobile content providers in the U.S. market. Our sales force and operations teams have to be consultative with our clients and work together to ensure the assets are ready for an on-time launch. There are so many use cases that need to be tested for with the iPad. For example, with a normal web creative, we don’t have to check what happens when someone turns the monitor sideways.

5) What about ad networks role on these platforms? Managing those relationships and technologies must also add some complexity for operations.

RD: There is no question ad networks will add complexity to the situation, but once the technical setup hurdles are covered, it’ll be the teams running them – and their available bandwidth – who are impacted. Right now the inventory is fragmented, and with more tablets on the way, this problem will only compound. Someone will be needed to manage and optimize – without a unified ad format or system each new “platform” will require additional focus and effort.

Rob’s blog on advertising, beekeeping, and other personal musings can be found here: http://www.robdeichert.com/