Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff triggered an awkward moment at Business Insider's Ignition 2012 conference today when he slammed Chevrolet's mobile advertising on a panel with Weather.com CEO David Kenny. Chevy is one of Weather's best clients.
In a discussion of how mobile ads work best, Rascoff was making the case that ads triggered by a user's location while shopping — such as Zillow's own app, which serves up local real estate information for house buyers — are the best kind because they enhance the user experience. Brand image ads, he said, aren't quite as useful.
"There are types of publishers this isn't going to work for," Rascoff said. "I can't imagine how a Chevy ad would enhance the user experience if I were using an app to do something completely unrelated to that activity."
Kenny then politely rebutted him: "Chevy is actually a good advertiser on Weather. Anybody who's got a big retail network [such as a set of car dealerships] finds it useful."
The exchange was good natured, but relatively unusual — ad sellers are usually careful not to trash clients, even those they don't work for.
Rascoff then switched targets, and tossed a barb at The New York Times. "The New York Times is doing a great job of monetizing mobile ... but are they enhancing the user experience? Well it's debatable. ... But it doesn't mean they are not going to make a lot of money from mobile."
Alas, Times executive editor Jill Abramson spoke at Ignition the day before the Kenny/Rascoff panel, and wasn't there to set him straight.
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