My Media Week: Ross Webster

In a timely My Media Week (as autumn settles in), Ross Webster, MD of sales for European Markets at The Weather Channel talks catering on Eurostar and disappointment at Upton Park.

Ross Webster: MD of sales for European Markets at The Weather Channel
Ross Webster: MD of sales for European Markets at The Weather Channel

Monday

Arrive at the office by clanky Boris bike – but better than the clanky Tube. Although I work for one of world’s biggest media owners, with a global audience of more than 175 million, in the Europe HQ we have a start-up mentality.

We are small team, and we all muck in together, which keeps work pacey and exciting, if a bit hectic. My "to-do" list is longer than NHS waiting times and my responsibility spans from ad sales, ad products, content and business development, to not getting the tea order wrong.

NBC Universal owns 33% of The Weather Channel, and we sit with our "half-sister" site, iVillage. Being part of the NBC family supplies a great network, and lunch today is a regular monthly get together with some of the NBC digital gurus – Torsten de Riese (CNBC), Lulu Phongmany (iVillage) and Jesse Goodman (E!).

We eat at Japanese favourite Edokko, and Lulu over-orders for us. It’s a good chance to share industry news, learnings, and jokes about my exploding exercise ball (don't ask).

Agency visit in the afternoon  – a very positive meeting about a joint initiative we are producing with iVillage – leveraging both the weather and iVillage engagement with mums.

Taking the weather proposition to market is pretty rewarding, as we are introducing a new category that has not previously been on people’s radar. The best part is when people suddenly realise that weather plays a vital role in almost everything we do.

Tuesday

Café Rouge on Tottenham Court Road is my office, out of the office – table service, good strong coffee and scrambled eggs for £4.25.

Grab breakfast with an ad product vendor. Each week it seems there is a new "next big unmissable game-changing" technology. Get some interesting follow-up from my breakfast partner today. Add to my "to-do" list.

I try and keep Tuesday as my internal reporting and planning day – a good chance to catch up with the team and take an objective look at progress and future issues.

We brought our UK ad sales and marketing in-house last year under the guidance of our account manager, Cassie Gilbert. And it was the best thing we ever did. Cassie’s passion for the power of engagement with weather is infectious.

One advantage of working for the world’s biggest commercial weather provider is that the ad products we have access to are cutting edge. So we check the progress for the new ADaptor, a new dynamic contextual ad unit that is not only triggered by changes in the weather, but can also place the location, the live weather and a nearest store locator into the ad unit.

At 2pm, the international calls start – Atlanta, New York, Paris, Madrid – reporting and planning. A welcome chance to strike things off my ever-growing "to-do" list.

We rely on our ad operations exec Cat Dunne to supply everyone with the right data, answers and questions. Cat’s role is ridiculously wide, and I would hate to actually try and capture it all on a job spec.

A good attitude and flexibility is pretty key to working at The Weather Channel.

Rush to Upton Park to watch football with Dom Williams from Carat. It’s Aldershot tonight and I don’t foresee any problems.

Oh dear!

Wednesday

Our European business is growing fast, which means some travel to the continent. I try and do Paris trips in one day, although it involves getting the 5.23am train from Brookwood Station. Arrive at the offices of Horyzon, our French partners, at 11am.

After a working lunch, we visit a French energy provider, where I utilise my O-level French to devastating effect.

We discuss the severe weather content and the associated ad products we are developing that will allow partners to engage when our users need them most. During severe winter conditions, we see up to a tenfold spike in our traffic, as the weather suddenly becomes an issue of life and death.

Grab a warm glass of wine and a £6 sandwich on Eurostar.

Thursday

Today is a good day, as I head off down the M3 to Southampton to visit Garmin. An opportunity to mix pleasure and business, as they have organised a ride out with their Pro Cycling team.

Although the pace is sedentary for the pros, I am afraid it is full gas for me. I keep up for 20km, before I drop back to a leisurely pace and enjoy the jaunt through the New Forest.

Tonight is a special night, as all summer I have promised my four-year-old ‘Bear Grylls’ that we would camp out in the woods. By 11pm, we agree that camping "is not nearly as good as everyone says it is", go back indoors and put the kettle on.

Friday

After my desperate performance on the bike yesterday, I start another training regime and cycle to the station.

Catch up with team, before lunch with a leading pharmaceutical manufacturer at Hix. Not surprisingly, the majority of their products are affected by weather conditions, and they are particularly interested in leveraging weather on mobile.

Weather is a top category on mobile, and our mobile audiences are seeing double-digit growth every month. We are following the trend in the US, where The Weather Channel mobile audience is second only to Facebook, with more than a billion page views a month.

Treat myself to a taxi across London, where I am informed by the driver what the reasons for the unusual weather conditions are…I promise to let our meteorologists know.

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