Member Profile: Robert Deichert Jr.

The AdMonsters community is comprised of the top Ad Operations professionals in the industry. In a new feature for our site, we’ll highlight members and ask them about what they are working on as well as their thoughts on a variety of topics.

This week we feature Robert Deichert Jr., Senior Vice President of Ad Operations at The Weather Channel

What’s your current role? If you were at a dinner party with people who don’t understand ad operations – how would you describe what you do?

SVP of Digital Advertising Operations – If I was at a dinner party I’d describe my role as follows: My teams are responsible for making sure we earn as much advertising revenue as possible for our web and mobile device applications as well as making sure we meet and exceed the expectations set with sales and our advertiser customers with regards to their campaigns. Secondarily we make sure we keep our consumers in mind as they are who the advertisers want to reach. Back in the day, I’d just say, “I’m the pop-up guy.”

If you weren’t in Ad Operations, what would you be doing?

Full time beekeeper or strategy consulting.

When did you start attending AdMonsters events?

It was the Stowe Publisher Forum in 2007. It connected me with other Ad Ops leaders and I learned from the collective experience of everyone. I also had the opportunity to present and refine my operating principles.

If 2010 is going to be a period of growth for online advertising, are you ready? How so?

There is only one answer to this question, YES. People, Process, and Systems are the three legs and as long as they all connect to the same stool top we are ready to go.

What are the top things Ad Ops leaders should be thinking about in the coming year?

With an advertising rebound looming, it’s time to double-down on talent. Make sure you have the best- it will be easy to ignore performance issues if revenue is growing fast. As the breeze to our backs increases it’s easy to forget about the process discipline too; make sure you’re constantly improving processes, otherwise when the next downturn comes (and it will), you’ll be wondering what happened. (It’s also easier to implement that change when everyone is feeling great). Focus on your leaders and the bench strength, and with the economy picking up- talent will start moving. It isn’t always about the money. Make sure you’re studied on the new insights about what really motivates people and make sure you’re challenging your most talented.

What ad operations specific initiative are you focused on now?

I’m really excited at the opportunity to be at a company with such a leading presence across all the major platforms, TV, web, mobile, the future. Cross platform execution will be a focus.

Is accurate forecasting of inventory still a problem? Are you trying to address it?

Inventory forecasting will always be a problem, the question is how are we as an industry going to address them? We need to make sure as an industry that we deliver advertising products that consistently delight our advertisers. Setting proper expectations is the crux of the problem. If you sell something that isn’t able to be forecast properly, who’s fault is that? Maybe it’s a system issue? Maybe it’s an expectation setting problem with the advertiser? Maybe it’s an ad ops problem for making it available? In our specific situation we have the added complexity of severe weather that doesn’t follow our sales cycle.

What’s the biggest bottleneck in online ad operations?

The workflow between the advertiser and the publisher; we’re still faxing too much. We need to reduce the friction of the transaction. We’re entering an age of hyper-targeting opportunities which usually means smaller line items; each line still requires much of the same work on both sides. This means we’re becoming less efficient.

Where do you see the next technological breakthrough that is going to significantly impact your team?

Workflow automation/streamlining; better systems that eliminate double entry or automate rules-based activities will allow us to work on higher order problems. I think we’ll see a meeting in the middle, we’re talking about standards around IOs, etc, at the same time the vendors are doing the work of building translators to take our data and put it in agency formats. This top down and bottom up approach will help get people comfortable and help work out the issues preventing seamless business transactions. Keep in mind, a breakthrough doesn’t have to be revolutionary, just adopted.

Rob’s blog on advertising, beekeeping, and other personal musings can be found here: