Monday, March 21, 2011

An Experience with Real-world ORMMA Usage

The Weather Channel's mobile applications for both iOS, including iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad, as well as Android phones are some of the most downloaded and used applications for these devices today. One of our biggest concerns is delivering quality and robust applications to our users, however we've found this has been increasingly more and more difficult to accomplish-- not because of increased functionality, but because we've found ourselves integrating more and more third party ad systems into our application. Not only have we experienced severe impacts to our release schedule because each third party product has its own release schedule, but we've seen a significant increase in our internal Q/A time just because we have to vet fully the ad system with each update.

Over the past several months, The Weather Channel has been working to implement the ORMMA Reference Implementations into our applications. We are please to announce that as of February of this year both our iPhone and Android applications are now fully capable of rendering ORMMA creatives.

During this process we learned a number of things.
  1. Our creative development group discovered the wonders and joy that is HTML5 as delivered through ORMMA. Because of this, we have shifted all of our internal efforts away from our proprietary legacy format to one that can be rendered by an ORMMA capable system. This opens up the door to using industry standard tools for creation of ad creatives, such as Adobe Fireworks and Dreamweaver as well as Javascript and CSS.
  2. Because we are now using ORMMA, our internally developed creatives are able to take advantage of a more rich user experience instead of having to rely on overly simplistic "lowest common denominator" code. This makes for a better experience for the user, which seems to lead to better engagement, which we believe will lead to a higher click through rate.
  3. ORMMA has greatly simplified our lives with regard to third party tracking. Previously we had attempted several different methods trying to get some level of third party tracking, now ORMMA just works.
  4. We've been able to run the same campaign across multiple platforms without changes or platform specific creatives, thus potentially reducing the creative development effort.
  5. We've begun talking to our advertisers about the capabilities of ORMMA and of using it instead of other third party whenever possible.
  6. We've been able to reduce the number of ad rendering systems in our apps, which has improved the overall quality of applications and made our ad rendering system much, much easier to understand and to maintain.
  7. Because the ORMMA specification is well defined, we have been able to create a series of "test" creatives that verify the functionality of the ORMMA implementation. We are using these to help our Q/A staff vet each release of our applications which allows for a repeatable methodology for testing which, in turn, reduces the overall engagement time of our Q/A resources.
In short, so far we've seen a number of "wins" with ORMMA, some of them very big "wins", with very few negatives. Our creative development group has begin looking at creatives from a rich media perspective and our application developers enjoy the reduction in complexity of our application code.

We here at The Weather Channel see this as a good beginning for ORMMA and encourage others to take a look at what it brings to the table and find out how implementing ORMMA in their applications can be beneficial both to themselves as well as their advertisers and users.


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