Twin Cities Co. Launches New Tech for Digital-Ad Delivery

Totally Interactive Weather says that its new TriggerEx technology platform will allow advertisers to deliver more relevant campaigns.

A company founded by KSTP-TV meteorologist Dave Dahl and his son, Andy Dahl, is poised to launch what it describes as a breakthrough in the delivery of digital advertising—one that allows advertisers to provide more relevant ads to their targeted audiences.

The Dahls launched Totally Interactive Weather, LLC, (TiWi) in 2008, selling online tools such as radar maps and other widgets that display weather forecasts to businesses, which could in turn generate revenue by selling ads to be displayed on the widgets.

Andy Dahl, TiWi’s CEO, told Twin Cities Business in a Monday phone interview that the start-up’s widget has been purchased by more than 300 newspaper, television, and radio websites, and has seen “gradual growth.” The company currently has eight employees and independent contractors; Dahl declined to disclose the company’s revenue.

It is TiWi’s new technology platform, dubbed “TriggerEx,” in which Dahl sees “potential for a much larger growth curve.”

The new technology, which TiWi plans to roll out in about three weeks, is designed to help advertising clients and ad agencies provide more relevant ads to consumers through the use of “ad exchanges.”

Ad exchanges are platforms through which advertisers and ad agencies bid on the use of unsold ad inventory. If, for example, a newspaper does not sell all of the ad inventory on its website, unsold ad units may be auctioned off on an exchange. Using an ad exchange can give advertisers access to a large audience without having to negotiate direct-buy deals with individual sites.

Dahl claims, however, that advertisers currently have limited options for ensuring that their ads sold through such exchanges are relevant to consumers; for example, it would be difficult for a coffee company to advertise its cold beverages only in areas experiencing warm weather, and its hot beverages in cool climates, when using an ad exchange, he said.

The TriggerEx platform provides a dashboard that allows an advertising client or agency to set up so-called “triggers” to dictate which ads appear in which scenarios. The “triggers” are not limited to weather patterns, and they can include any data point about a website visitor, from political interests to buying habits, according to Dahl. “The sky’s the limit,” he said.

TiWi plans to charge clients based on the number of ad impressions delivered using its TriggerEx technology. Dahl provides the following example: If an ad management firm charges an advertiser $1 for a certain number of impressions, TiWi may charge an additional $0.50 to incorporate its enhanced ad-delivery tool.

TiWi was initially funded by the Dahls, but St. Paul-based Hubbard Broadcasting, Inc., made an undisclosed investment in the company in 2010. Andy Dahl said Monday that TiWi is a standalone company, but Hubbard remains an investor, and TiWi now occupies office space within Hubbard’s St. Paul headquarters.