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Q&A with Joe D. Weir, VP of Digital, A.H. Belo on Mobile Advertising Innovation

February 14, 2014 | By Michelle Manafy, Editorial Director – DCN @michellemanafy

This Q&A is part of OPA’s “Three on Three” series where we ask three industry executives the same three questions on a topic to uncover actionable insights… If you want to learn more, keep an eye out on our site for more interviews. Today’s Three on Three is with Joe D. Weir, VP of Digital, A.H. Belo.

Joe Weir HeadshotQ: In mobile advertising, what is the most important thing to consider?

A: I think that it is the ability to reach the consumer where they are. “Where they are” means two things: First, it can mean geolocation. But it can also mean where the consumer is within the buying cycle.

For example, I am going to dinner. So first we need to think about how we play a part in where they are physically. Then we need to think about where they are in their decision making process about dinner. At that point, we factor in our relationships with businesses, grocery, restaurants, to help marry up the consumer and “where they are” with our advertisers.

People are using mobile more often, in more places and more ways; they are using it in line to buy movie tickets or at the grocery story, or pumping gas. But behind all that may be them doing something bigger. For example, maybe they are in the process of buying a car and using mobile to explore and research products.

We need to understand how the consumer is using mobile so we can connect them with content that helps them make better decisions or, as we’ve done through our partnership with cars.com, to bring buyers together with sellers in the marketplace. Another factor to keep in mind is the importance of reviews. An exciting opportunity for us has been matching up consumer reviews with other content.

Mobile helps change the landscape because of its mobility, but also because of its connectivity. It allows for more data points around various topics.

Q: Describe one of your recent or forthcoming mobile ad initiatives that you think is particularly innovative:

A: First let me tell you a bit about our approach. The way we’ve looked at mobile is that we’re trying to build a network of mobile access. We have variations of our content that is HTML5 that can be pulled up and rendered on whatever device consumers are on—mobile or tablet. We also have applications that we’ve launched for iOS and Android and we’re working with Windows right now.

If you look our stuff, you’ll see things like “Dallas’ Best Burgers” and “Dallas Skyline”. Obviously, we also have our core offering like Dallas Morning News as websites, epaper and applications. One of our strengths, as with a lot of newspapers, is sports.

I think one of our most innovative stories is in sports. So it is an understatement to say that High School football is big in Texas. In December, we had a game that broke the national High School attendance record with more than 54 thousand attendees. Needless to say, we’d been creating all this content around High School ball and realized we needed a mobile play in that space.

A. H. Belo SportsDay High School App ScreenThe way we created the SportsDay High School app, and the way we sold the whole campaign, is a good example for media companies. The app delivers all of the content we were creating, but we also built live score delivery into it, which is really optimal for mobile. It also includes push notifications and alerts for teams you are interested in. So what we did was work hard to create an app experience audiences would really want.

Then we sold a single sponsorship to the app as part of a much larger package, which had print, desktop and mobile components. Albertsons sponsored an entire High School Sports package. It even includes a community element where Albertsons honors top players at a banquet. Mobile, for us, fits into something bigger. It allows us, as publishers, to pull together revenue opportunities that might exist in a range of areas as one larger sale, which delivers more to the advertiser as well.

Q: What is working in mobile advertising, and what do we need more of, in order to drive success in this area?

A: We need a couple of things. First, there needs to be as much standardized delivery of advertising as possible.

We also need the best ease the integration of mobile into our existing business. There are a lot of media companies right now who, with their mobile, are doing ad serving with x company over here and then on desktop, with y company over here. And all of those systems are separate and don’t talk to each other. All media companies need to look at their technology stack and figure out how their technology can support the needs of salespeople. It needs to be very efficient for pre-sales—to understand how big the audience is and what the opportunity is. It also needs to be efficient for post-sales—I’ve closed the business and need to implement the campaign across platforms.

We have this great group of sales people who go out into the market every single day. Their job is to sell audiences and those audiences exist on mobile, print, desktop, tablet. So to make the most of that, we need to create the best technology stack to distribute the ad dollars seamlessly across our different platforms. The easier this is for sales people, the easier it will be to get those dollars in the front door.

Joe D Weir leads sales of all digital offerings of DMNmedia and is responsible for product development and digitally related strategic initiatives. Prior to joining DMNmedia, Joe had been with Belo for 18 years. His most recent position was Vice President of Digital for Belo since 2009. His responsibilities included digital strategies for revenue and audience growth across new media platforms. Weir was named a “Digital All-Star” in 2010 by Broadcasting & Cable magazine. In 2009 he was named “Outstanding Young Alumnus” from his alma mater Hardin-Simmons University and in 2008 he led WFAA.com to be honored with a National Edward R Murrow for online innovation. Weir currently serves on The University of North Texas RTVF (Radio, TV and Film) Executive Board.

Also in this series:

Q&A with Brian Colbert, Chief Revenue Officer, About.com on Mobile Advertising Innovation

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