As 2010 comes to an end you might be reviewing the work that your team developed, and the processes by which they did so. Here at ZEDO, we are spending time doing just that, as well as making some plans and setting expectations for 2011. We wanted to take a moment to share, with the online advertising community, some of the things that we came up with. We hope that these are helpful insights to internet publishers, specifically ad operation teams, on how to prepare for 2011. Here are 5 Ad Operations tips for 2011:
1. Review work flow, processes and templates
In all probability the last quarter of 2010 would have been hectic, with your Ad Ops teams working extended hours, implementing makeshift processes and coming up with temporary solutions. Traditionally workload drops drastically in Q1 and the pressure is significantly lower. Hence, the beginning of 2011 presents an ideal opportunity to review work flow, processes and templates. May be check if there are any missing fields in your IO template or your input tool that would make it easier for your sales folks? May be review templates to check if there are fields that are redundant, fields that have just been there since the template was first made? You may take this opportunity to update workflow diagrams. Document or update the diagrams to identify outdated steps. Assign a senior operations professional to do the documentation – this grows their professional skill-set as well as helps maintain fresh process documentation within your organization
Simply ask yourself the question – are you doing things in a particular manner because “that’s the way they have always been done”? Most Ad Ops teams could benefit from using this as an opportunity to learn from their experiences of 2010’s last quarter. They could implement systems that ensure that when the workload increases again in the future they are well equipped to deliver efficiently. Lastly, it is advisable to review individual roles, responsibilities and dependencies and make redundancy plans accordingly in order to ensure that you do not have a single point of failure.
2. Bridge the gap between Ad Ops and Sales teams
Although perceptions are fast improving, most sales folks still continue to consider Ad Ops as just a back-office department that simply needs to implement what they are told. Before moving forward, lets get our facts straight. Ad Operations is a vitally important component for any publisher that intends to generate revenue from internet advertising. Without ad operations a contract will never be fulfilled. Without receiving feedback from the ad operations team, a sales team will never be able to price and package inventory accurately. Without accurate analysis from the ad operations team any publisher will not be able to derive the right balance between creative ads and reasonable content. This must be understood in order to get your sales team on the same table with your Ad Ops. You might have to establish processes for both to follow. It is crucial that the communication channel between Ad Ops and sales is fluid and works both ways. Ad Ops teams need to educate the sales team about their capabilities and sales teams need to make ad ops team aware of what the market wants.
3. Have a contingency plan
It is difficult to run a lean and efficient ad operations department at the best of times. Add in high turnover, unplanned leaves, fluctuating work patterns and it can become an impossible task to manage delivery as per expectations. Also, the top management of any company is always going to balk at the high salaries paid to ad ops professionals. It is almost impossible to make them sit down and explain the importance of skilled professionals in ad operations. They will always fail to see the value in it. The solution is simple; consider outsourcing ad operations, either partially or completely. However, in doing so always ensure that the control stays with you. There are many advantages to outsourcing such as lower cost, no employee retention hassles and if the outsourcing partner works in a different timezone then it may actually result in quicker turnaround times. I repeat though – do not lose control of ad ops in doing so! You need to have a couple of ad operations professionals in-house that are constantly on top of the outsourcing vendor, ensuring that expectations are set accurately and delivery commitments are met in a timely fashion. Many companies also opt to outsource only during high work flow periods. Typically referred to as overflow services. You pay your outsourced vendor a low monthly retainer and utilize them only when needed and get billed on a per placement basis.
4. Define career paths of ad operations professionals
Ad operations is not, and will most likely never be, a stress free business. It is just the nature of the work they do that ad ops teams are going to be subjected to unrealistic expectations from time to time, and are going to be held responsible for mistakes that aren’t entirely their fault. Wrong creatives, wrong clickthru URLs, page being broken or wrong dates, the finger is always going to be pointed at ad ops first. Good traffickers take this within their stride and learn to perform well regardless of external circumstances. A good trafficker is smart, meticulous, self-motivated and technically capable. However, you can keep him performing at optimum levels only if he knows he is heading somewhere in his career. He needs to have possibilities open for him to venture into team management, strategy planning, inventory management or even sales. You could do well to document career paths within your organization. Update job descriptions: a tedious and often painful task that usually reveals overlooked skillsets and responsibilities, and gives your team a ‘future’ that they can visualize
5. Stay abreast with industry innovations and don’t be afraid to experiment a little
Ad operations is a dynamic industry. What may have been good for you a couple of years ago may not necessarily work today. The industry as a whole is taking shape from the unorganized mess that it was a few years ago to one that now offers standards and guidelines for all to follow. In the ever evolving world of ad operations it vital that you keep yourself aware of the latest offerings from various solution providers. Be it work flow management tools, innovative rich media formats or video technology integration, every publisher needs to adapt accordingly in order to maintain their competitive edge.
Lastly, be sure to clean out old reporting templates, archive old files and reports. Start out the year afresh!
To learn more about how you can prepare for 2011, visit http://www.zedo.com/technology/switchToZedo.htm