COLOGNE – Can a hurricane top a presidential inauguration for grabbing eyeballs? At CNN the answer is a resounding yes.

Breaking news also represents a “balancing test” in being able to monetize those eyeballs most effectively, as CNN Chief Product Officer Alex Wellen explains in this video interview with Beet.TV.

“It looks like CNN is more relevant than it’s ever been before,” Wellen says during a break at the DMEXCO advertising and media trade show.

On digital platforms, consumption of the company’s weekend hurricane coverage was about 80% compared with desktop, according to Wellen. One day of that coverage made it the number one day for the entire year, bypassing the Trump inauguration.

“We had 34 million multiplatform uniques across all of our platforms, largely on mobile first,” Wellen explains.

Video growth has been “immense” for CNN, including its 360-degree coverage of the Total Solar Eclipse from multiple locations and some 9 million live streams, on some 40 different platforms.

As its distribution and reach has grown, CNN is working closely with advertisers “at the onset of these platforms” to create authentic editorial and advertising experiences. “Not an adjacency or an afterthought.”

Breaking news is more appealing to some advertisers than others and they are connected with CNN through automation. “There are some advertisers, particularly through the private programmatic means, that we can connect with this content. They want to reach large audiences at scale.”

At the same time, CNN is “very, very precise and surgical” about which advertisers are aligned with premium, long-form or evergreen executions.

“When we have these spikes, we leverage them with advertisers that are very broad and then when we create bespoke content we can charge a higher CPM, but it is much more around the premium executions,” Wellen says.

He has a problem with the digital term “personalization,” considering it to be “a bit of a cop out” as it relates to scaled technology automating everything. This is because at CNN, being “personal” when delivering content means focusing on curation and relevancy derived from audience insights.

“Product for us is that combination of storytelling and technology and the way they come together to really present something in a way that others can’t really do,” Wellen says.

This video is part a series that examines programmatic from both the seller and the buyer perspective. It is presented by PubMatic. For more videos from the series, please visit this page.