Weather Channel EVP Lawrence On Choosing AdMeld Private Exchange To Facilitate Audience Buying

Weather ChannelWith publishers increasingly looking for alternative ways to monetize their unsold inventory, the “private exchange” model is beginning to take hold as publishers can better control who the buyer of their inventory is on the other side of the exchange. Today, The Weather Channel and its online megasite,, announced that it has chosen AdMeld to provide “private exchange” services. Read the release.

Beth Lawrence, EVP of Ad Sales & Media Solutions at The Weather Channel Companies discussed their publisher-side perspective and the selection of AdMeld’s platform. What brought The Weather Channel to the point where it thought it needed a private exchange solution?

BL: With an audience of about 50 million unique distributed across multiple channels, The Weather Channel is one of the world’s largest cross-platform media companies. What this platform allows us to do is aggregate that valuable audience into a single platform that makes it easier for advertisers to buy and easier for us to dictate the terms of sale. As agencies increasingly shift budgets toward programmatic buying, the ability to analyze, package and sell our audience intelligently, and in concert with our direct sales team, will be invaluable. Though this type of solution isn’t for every publisher, we believe it be standard for publishers of our scale and market position.

What criteria did you use in picking a partner to provide a solution?

We chose AdMeld to power our private exchange because they offer a handful of strong capabilities in one platform. First, from a technology point of view they give us the ability to understand the composition and value of our audience in real time, and the ability to package our audience and set granular controls against how it’s bought. Second, they have integrated connections to every major buyer giving us access to maximum demand. And third, they have a team that really understands our business as publishers, shares our vision about the future of the space, and is eager to partner with us to innovate as the landscape continues to shift.

Can you discuss how guaranteed and non-guaranteed inventory work together as part of an overall online ad strategy? Is it difficult to manage the two for fear of channel conflict or other challenges?

The key to eliminating channel conflict is control—control of how each impression is sold, to whom, and for how much. The large, general ad exchanges don’t offer these types of controls because they weren’t designed for publishers, but the private exchange model does. Not only can we intelligently set floors and blocks to protect our sales team’s efforts, but AdMeld’s technology enables us to mine the RTB stream for market data on which audience segments are most in demand, and by what individual advertisers. These deeper audience insights allow us to provide intelligent programmatic and advertiser solutions going forward.

By John Ebbert

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  1. I’m a big fan of AdMeld and their technology to RTB-enable publishers. But calling it a ‘private ad exchange’ is sort of funny, isn’t it? Maybe I’m getting old, but it used to be called ‘Sales.’ If IBM decided to sell stock directly to hedge funds, would that be a ‘private stock exchange’?

    I mean, not to split hairs, but isn’t our industry terminology confusing enough as it is?

    • Hi Jerry,

      Thanks for your feedback and you kind words about AdMeld’s tech. I definitely agree that the industry doesn’t need another convoluted term, and that’s why I’m kind of surprised by your comment. We chose “private exchange” specifically because we think it avoids that pitfall—pretty much every publisher and buyer we spoke with about it got the concept.

      While it isn’t as precise as “programmatic audience sales platform” we think it’s sufficiently descriptive, and we like that it builds on a concept that’s already widely known in the industry. My guess is that it’ll evolve over time. In the meantime, I’m thinking about starting a group called Marketers Against Superfluous Acronyms (MASA).


  2. Let the Admeld folks correct me if I am wrong, but I think the idea is to only “allow” some folks to bid on inventory and not on others. If it is the case that there is still an auction with multiple bidders it would appear to still be an “exchange”. It remains to be seen if only allowing some to bid and not others makes any sense at all, but publishers are having a hard time with the transition from a one to one sales to a model of many to many market dynamic and I can understand why Admeld wants to help them get more comfortable with this type of control.

  3. …”but AdMeld’s technology enables us to mine the RTB stream for market data on which audience segments are most in demand, and by what individual advertisers.”

    So, now ADVERTISERS need to be careful on who’s stealing THEIR data!

    Strange twist of fate.

  4. “Exchange” implies trading is going on with the needs of multiple parties on both ends present. I don’t see how using it makes sense in reference to a single publisher…even if, as Zach mentions, you have multiple bidders. Then it’s just an auction. Is AdWords and “Exchange” of course not….

    • A whole group of marketers like to use the word exchange when they are referring to auctions or straight sales. i.e. “Data Exchanges” (it’s only an exchange if I can take the data I bought and resell it on the exchange – otherwise it’s no more of an exchange than going to a Best Buy store and making a purchase). Our industry is caught up in fancy terminology that sounds good but means nothing. Another example – it used to be “damn my business model sucks and I need to figure out a new model to survive”. Now we call it “Pivoting”. sounds so much prettier, no?

      • ‘Data Exchange’ is another good example… I always assume, when I hear it, that the ‘exchange’ sells not only the operator’s data but other companies’ as well. I think this is generally the case (let me know if I’m wrong.)

        The ad exchanges, for instance, sell their owners’ inventory but also sell third-party inventory. AdX sells both Google inventory and GCN inventory. If it didn’t sell GCN inventory, calling it an exchange would be a misnomer.

        In the financial world, where we have taken all this terminology from, brokerage firms don’t call their internal brokerage platforms ‘exchanges’, they call them, um, ‘internal brokerage platforms.’ To do otherwise would create a lot of confusion.

        We’re all in the marketing industry, so I understand AdMeld’s willingness to coopt a trendy term for their own sales efforts, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.

  5. Jerry,
    I think the question is at what level of abstraction we draw the line. On Admeld Triggit and multiple other bidders buy from multiple parties which would appear to fit the definition of an exchange. In this new abstraction they are creating we would still be buying from multiple publishers but the publishers would be able to create rules about who they wanted to be able to bid on their impressions. At the highest level it would still be an exchange just with weird rules. At the end of the day I don’t think it matters much. Publishers are going to realize that in a world where buys are data and audience driven that they want as many bidders as possible to maximise the potential that advertisers find matches with their audience members and subsequently bid up the prices. Everything we are seeing now is just a transitionary as publishers struggle to understand that buyers are no longer interested in buying sites as proxies for audience when they can just buy the actual audience itself.