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12 Things to Know About Ad Ops

Bottom line: Bulk audience buys are so over.

By Bill Mickey :: April 27, 2015

What just happened to media buying? Programmatic, viewability, engagement, embattled CPMs ?and many more trends are causing havoc in the digital ad space, and that's just one platform. Traditional publishers are now supporting an enormous multiplatform ad operation to accommodate the growing complexities of what used to be a comparably straightforward transaction. We asked a panel of the smartest digital publishing pros we could find to tell us about their ad-ops experiences. Just in case you didn't already have enough on your plate, here are 12 hot-spots to keep an eye on.


1. Focus on Metrics

"Clients continue to advance their digital prowess and as they shift more of their budgets to digital, they're expecting real-time integrated views into the performance of their campaigns. This means providing a single report that demonstrates the effectiveness and success of their cross- platform campaigns including: Native advertising, banner advertising, email/newsletter advertising, mobile, co-branding, etc. It also means updating reports to include new metrics around viewability and new effectiveness measures."


2. One-to-One Is Number-One

"One-to-one marketing is becoming a reality and ad- ops teams need to become proficient in delivering ads at this level. We expect that more campaigns in 2015 will be bought focused on niche/micro audiences. Delivering these audiences will require a new level of sophistication and aptitude in targeting and retargeting on both a publisher's own site as well as third-party sites."


3. Talent, Talent, Talent

"Finding the best ad operations talent is?an ongoing battle that?is only getting harder?as publications grow?their digital revenue.?That will continue in 2015. Competition?for talent is rising and investing in finding the best ad ops personnel is an imperative."


4. Sales Teams will Need Tech Chops

"The scale and performance of programmatic are going to continue to motivate? sales and the overall ?evolution of programmatic advertising. Investing in technical experts with business skills will help publishers adjust to the new environment. What will remain key is that knowledge is transferred to sales teams so they can continue to communicate easily with the market."


5. Shifting to Guarantees

"Programmatic guaranteed is going to be essential in order for publishers to get the best results and the most spending from the market. IBT Media just instituted programmatic guaranteed because we understand that it is the perfect mix of product and technology. Advertisers will also benefit because they can optimize ad buys across publisher websites."


6. Automate Print Sales

"We need to bring the efficiency of digital advertising to the print space to keep it robust. As we all know, print is a challenge, but it is still a good opportunity. Publishers need to embrace the idea that they can improve sales results by automating the process through programmatic."


7. Remember the User Experience

"The challenge for the whole ecosystem is to be innovative and bring a better experience to the user all around. What will support this is ad server technology and the ad ops team's knowledge that goes along with it."


8. Know Your Readers...Each of Them

"Understanding how each reader is valued and getting better at having a fair and balanced conversation with the buy side is increasingly important. The buy side is down to the individual readers. They might give you $100 to reach one reader at a particular time. That has all sorts of issues that publishers are not equipped to deal with."


9. Programmatic Direct Is Back, But Not How You Think

"A few years ago, even with the rise of programmatic, there were still direct programmatic purchases-negotiated, fixed fee, direct deals. They kind of went away over the last two years. Now, they're roaring back, but not in the way you would think. Buyers are wanting to secure inventory well in advance and they want to execute it programmatically.

This isn't $100,000 buys. This is $10 million buys across multiple properties. It might be content-based or audience-based, but not [single] site-based."


10. Buyers Are Getting Smarter, Faster

"The buy side is becoming very sophisticated with their use of data and employment of automation in their buying processes. Publishers are finally waking up and saying, 'Hey, I need to know the value of my audience on a reader-by-reader basis-time of day, life stage, etc.' The punch line here is the buy side knows all that already. And, by the way, the buy side is interested in getting the best return it can."


11. CPMs Are Dumb

"A thousand readers are not equal, they're different. It's a blunt tool that publishers are using. What they, by definition, have done is they've undervalued their most important readers and overvalued their least important ones."


12. Publishers Must Defend Their Value

"The publisher side has been so beaten down over the last few years. Publishers are where consumer intent is fostered and developed. It's absolutely unfair that the Googles and Facebooks are creating the value."