Dave Roter is the Senior Director of Digital Sales at ESPN. He is a media veteran having spent his 16 year career at ESPN and MEC. We recently spoke with Dave about his experience on the buy side and the sell side as well as his current role.
The Makegood: Dave, you have been part of the online advertising industry since the beginning, having started at MEC 1996. How did you end up at MEC and what do you remember about being on the agency side?
DR: Media Edge as a company was only a year or two old, and it was a time when “media” was being taken out of the big agency model and left to stand as a business on its own. Fortunately for the business, they had a fantastic group of people who were leading it, and it’s the people who drew me in and made me want to be a part of that team. I’ve got many great memories from the agency side – I was lucky to be a part of the small team that launched their digital business in ’99, when we rode the dotcom boom to glory and managed to stay afloat through the bust. It was a wild ride and we are all better for it – not to mention building what developed into a solid and sustaining digital business.
The Makegood: You moved over to the sell side and ESPN digital in 2003. What was that transition like?
DR: It honestly wasn’t that different. Working at The Digital Edge, post-2000 (and the bust), we spent the next two years evangelizing the value of online advertising. Given the timing and the skepticism in the marketplace, it was not an easy sell. The transition in the move to ESPN was that I was now selling a specific product to clients and not just selling the medium – although in 2003 the medium was still a part of the sell!
The Makegood: What would you say are the biggest changes you have seen in the industry since you joined?
DR: Technology enables innovation at a faster pace than ever before and there’s no going back.
The Makegood: With the current trend of trading desks, DSPs, exchanges, etc, some premium publishers are reacting by looking into creating their own private exchanges. What do you see as the role of premium publishers in the near term for online advertising?
DR: There’s a responsibility to create premium and innovative offerings for advertisers that reach the really valuable audiences premium pubs can deliver. Whether it’s through sponsorship, video, rich media, mobile, homepages or ad units that are integrated into highly consumed content, premium publishers should be committed to creating rich experiences for advertisers.
The Makegood: Can you tell us about current strategies that are working well ESPN clients?
DR: Combine sports with great technology and talent and you deliver an extremely desirable audience. Scaling at 60+million users between .com/mobile is great, but it’s the engagement that resonates with advertisers. In September for example, fans spent 4.7 billion minutes with ESPN.com. This translates to ESPN (overall on the web) having the 7th largest per- minute audience online among all people, and 5th largest among M18-34, M18-49 & M25-54. We deliver this audience to advertisers through unmatched content and a continued enhancement of our core products – from our front doors, to video (live sports, highlights and news/commentary), mobile and tablet experiences, fantasy games, to all of the ways fans follow what we call the “game around the game.” We know that ad messages resonate most when both the content and the context work together – and we strive to find combinations that work for our clients across a myriad of screens.
The Makegood: Thanks, Dave.