Mastering Change in a Post-IDFA World: Q&A with Ron Duque, WeatherBug

Beleagured mobile publishers have been put through the wringer, especially ever since Apple’s ATT came to town.

While ATT has improved privacy and cut down on fingerprinting, it has made it immeasurably harder for pubs (and even big tech) to monetize their apps. That’s why we invited Ron Duque, Head of Advertising and Ad Tech Operations, WeatherBug, to come to PubForum Montreal on August 15, 2022, to talk about Solving for Mobile Addressability.

We heard his company has put some serious thinking behind finding a sustaiable solution to help publishers survive the wrath of ATT, and potentially the loss of Google’s AdID as well.

I caught up with Duque to learn more about his ad ops career, what publishers should be thinking about in a post-IDFA world, and whether the promise of 5G has any significant impact on a publisher like WeatherBug. One thing I learned was that while change is inevitable, it doesn’t always take blue sky thinking to master it. Oftentimes, the solutions to our challenges are laying right in front of us.

Lynne d Johnson: Over the course of your career, you’ve worked in ad ops at MEC, AOL, Vibe Media, and now GroundTruth and WeatherBug. What have you learned in your nearly 20-year career in ad ops that has helped you lead a team to handle the constant change of the ad tech industry?

Ron Duque: My ad ops career started at MEC when it was The Digital Edge (TDE) and through GroundTruth and WeatherBug, the single most consistent element that I could rely on has been changed.

In that time, I’ve learned it’s important to listen more to my peers and others in the industry about what is impacting their businesses most and what solutions work for them the best. It doesn’t necessarily mean that what is best for them will be the best for me or my team but it gives me a roadmap to plan how to get to my best solution. I’ve tried to weave that into all of the teams that I’ve worked with throughout my career.

LdJ: You’re primarily working in mobile now and although privacy challenges are disrupting the entire industry, things in mobile seem bad.  What are some of the changes happening post-IDFA and what should publishers be thinking about to help them move forward?

What publishers should be thinking about is how to look beyond ID-based digital advertising and consider alternatives that are already available within the current devices that we use every day

RD: I don’t feel that things are bad for mobile right now, it’s just another phase of change. Although it’s one of the biggest we’ve faced as an industry, it’s still a challenge we’ll be able to solve collectively. Change is inevitable and from it, comes progress.

The obvious change that we are seeing in a post-IDFA ecosystem is a sharp decrease in identity and addressability which makes it difficult to monetize inventory. What publishers should be thinking about is how to look beyond ID-based digital advertising and consider alternatives that are already available within the current devices that we use every day.

LdJ: Overall, has mobile monetization gotten much harder than desktop? 

RD: Not necessarily harder but certainly more complex. [Editor’s note: We’ll elaborate more on this topic at Publisher Forum Montreal.]

LdJ: For years we’ve been hearing about the promise of 5G, especially in regards to congestion and latency. While 5G provides monetization opportunities for Communications Service Providers, there are opportunities for publishers as well. Has 5G has impacted your business? 

RD: While it hasn’t had any immediate or significant impact on our business, we continue to explore the benefits 5G can help deliver to our users. It certainly provides us different opportunities for how we can improve the overall user experience and how they can engage more with our dynamic content.

Join us on August 15, 2022 in Montreal for Ron Duque’s Keynote Fireside Chat, Solving for Mobile Addressability.