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Should You Outsource Your Ad Ops?

Advertising Operations (aka Ad Ops) is critical to both the buy- and sell-side of digital media. A well-oiled Ad Ops team with technical expertise and the ability to turn  campaigns around quickly helps an organization run seamless operations and in turn achieve revenue goals.

Over the years, Ad Operations has evolved from being a highly technical task to a more process-driven activity requiring diligence and meticulousness as its most important skills. This of course has been driven by the simplified UI’s and workflows of most of the Ad Servers used today (barring a few, I should say).

Managing an Ad Ops team however, presents its  own challenges. From ever-increasing costs to employee retention, many issues grab the time and attention of upper management. Some of these challenges though can be mitigated by outsourcing your Ad Operations activities.

Although there are many advantages to outsourcing Ad Ops, there are a few important ones. The most important of these is cost effectiveness; it’s usually less expensive to outsource. Based on the Ad Monsters Salary survey for 2013, an organization can save up to 50% in salaries when it outsources a regular Ad Trafficker position. Savings can be greater if you include the “burden” — almost a third more than the salary for benefits, management costs, infrastructure and other miscellaneous expenses. In addition, a typical outsourcing partner would not charge you for resources during the training period, which means you will receive a productive resource from day one.

But in addition to cost, there’s the matter of technical expertise.   Yes, this may sound a bit odd, but in my experience of managing outsourced Ad Operations over the past seven years,  I ‘ve noticed that certain outsourcing partners can provide excellent technical resources with experience on multiple Ad servers, and in many different environments. This is especially true if you select an ad tech company rather than a business process outsourcing company as your outsourcing partner. Ad tech companies have the advantage of having both technology and services expertise in-house, and  the experience of working with multiple clients and ad servers adds to the expertise.

Next is quality assurance. With the advantages of technical expertise and optimized processes on their side, outsourcing partners are armed to provide excellent quality. Processes are well defined, documented and followed, which ensures that errors are nearly eliminated.

Last, but certainly not least, is coverage. Websites run 24×7,  and so do users who come to the websites, so advertising also needs to be monitored 24×7. If your operations are large enough and requirements justified, outsourcing partners usually have the ability to provide 24×7 operations. They also provide coverage during national holidays or backups for leaves and vacations, which ensures seamless coverage.

The Economist: a Case Study

The Economist: A Case Study for a Hybrid Ad Operations Model
Outsourcing your ad operations is not a new concept, but even companies that want to use it are still trying to figure it out so that it works for them. A hybrid model may work best.
“ZEDO has delivered much better quality of service as well as improved turnaround time in comparison with the previous vendor.”

The problem:

How to outsource your ad operations for optimum revenue. In a global market, slow processing of requests and faulty implementation (blank pages or broken pages served), cost The Economist an estimated $250,000 in revenue annually — an unacceptable situation.

The solution:

The Economist has always outsourced its ad operations. But after three unsuccessful tries at total outsourcing, the well-respected financial news and analysis site has finally settled on a hybrid model as the one they are most comfortable with. Before settling on that model, the magazine used  total outsourcing, but found that to be flawed because all transactions flowed up to a single manager in the outsourcing vendor. In a global operation, where transactions are done on a 24/7 basis in many time zones, if that manager was unavailable (let’s say asleep), the result as an expensive single point of failure.

In the case of The Economist,  slow processing of requests and faulty implementation (blank pages or broken pages served), cost them an estimated $250,000 in revenue annually — an unacceptable situation.

Thus, the magazine chose a hybrid model with ZEDO. This choice keeps the strategic work in house and outsources the tactical implementation with SLAs and reporting requirements to show effectiveness. The expectations were laid out in advance, the SLAs agreed on, and implementation has gone flawlessly. Since ZEDO, The Economist hasn’t lost any money and trafficking errors have been caught internally because of a proactive relationship and good communication.

Details of the model include traffickers in all important time zones. It includes a combination of in-house onshore and outsourced offshore resources. Of the 8 member global ad operations team, five are internal and three external

  • A Director of Ad Operations is based in London – The Economist
  • Two Ad Operations managers –  (one in NYC and one in London) The Economist
  • Two Onshore trafficker – 2 Nos. (one in NYC and one in London) The Economist
  • Three Offshore traffickers from ZEDO –  (work as per time zones in their respective markets – BST (UK and Continental Europe), EST (North America) and HK (for APAC) time.

Operations began in October of last year, and so far  the feedback from their Sales teams across all markets has been extremely positive. Their view:  “ZEDO has delivered much better quality of service as well as improved turnaround time in comparison with the previous vendor.”

Summary:

  • ZEDO’s accuracy percentage over a nine month period has been 99.3%. This is a significant improvement in comparison to the previous vendor. By our estimate, our improved accuracy is likely to have saved The Economist more than a quarter million dollars in revenue  compared to the previous year.
  • ZEDO has processed 100% of P1 requests (P1 are high priority requests) have within 3 hours through 2013.
  • Significant process improvements have been made in terms of delivery of screenshots and advanced performance / delivery reports
  • Quarterly review meetings have been held in order to seek constant feedback and process improvement opportunities.
  • The Economist and ZEDO work as partners and not in a typical client – vendor relationship.
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Newspapers Jump on the ZEDO Bandwagon


Last week our CEO, Roy de Souza, announced that ZEDO is more capable than ever before of helping online newspapers cut costs and increase revenue. Not only do we have a suite of technology products for newspapers to choose from and use without switching ad servers, we now have an established team of expert ad operations specialists ready to take on any project or challenge from newspapers. We are happy to announce that, well, some newspapers heard us!

ZEDO is excited to welcome Omaha World Herald, The Daily Herald in Chicago (owned by Paddock Publications), and many more on board as our newest Advertising Technology customers. We look forward to helping these newspapers solve challenges, cut costs and keep their advertisers happy and coming back for more premium inventory.

Assistant Vice President of Paddock Publications, Kelly Bolyard, stated that, “ZEDO’s ad ops team is experienced with our ad server and works with us to make sure they understand our specific needs. As a result of our partnership with ZEDO, we never have to worry about being short on trafficking resources.”  Thanks, Paddock Publications!  Send us your trafficking work anytime, 24/7 and we will take care of it (same for all other newspapers out there too!).

So, are you a newspaper? Want to work with the only Advertising Technology provider dedicated to newspapers? Visit http://www.zedo.com/product/for-Publishers.htm to learn all about what we can do for you.

Contact us at: http://www.zedo.com/technology/switchToZedo.htm to let us know how we can help you have more options, more visibility, and make more revenue.


ZEDO hires Aashay Paradkar to lead new Ad Operations Services team

ZEDO, Inc., the advertising technology partner for publishers, has hired Aashay Paradkar to head up its new Ad Operations and Creative Services team. Paradkar will take over the Global Ad Operations Services team under Summer Koide, VP Product & Services at ZEDO.

Aashay brings with him over ten years of experience, most recently with Cybage Software, heading up a large staff providing ad operations and technical support to companies such as Operative, Pubmatic, Digital River and more.

“ZEDO’s suite of premier products, services and technology solutions is the need of the hour for top publishers and agencies today,” Paradkar said.  “Quality websites – including newspapers, magazines and video – already capture the attention of the audience that advertisers seek.  Our ad operations and creative services let these publishers focus on their core competency – bringing top quality content to their users 24 hours a day.”

ZEDO offers full service ad operations, as well as an overflow/insurance model to counter lumpy demand with static staffing. Ad Operations customers will have dedicated, trained staff, 24-hour customer support and a local account manager. ZEDO is proud to offer this cost cutting service to publishers, especially newspaper publishers, as well as many other innovative products and services.

Preparing Publishers for 2011


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

ZEDO’s 2010 in Review

2010 was an amazing year for ZEDO, thanks the continuing innovative nature of the online advertising industry and to our expert team. With a new spark and a surge of new advertising technology products and services, ZEDO brought more solutions to online publishers than ever before. Here’s a recap of our favorite things we did in 2010.

We introduced Outsourced Ad Operations services. Publishers using many different ad servers were pounding us with the question “Can ZEDO please help our ad ops team with overflow work load?” and we were proud to say “Yes we can!” Check out how outsourcing ad operations can help your team save money and reduce wasted time on hiring and retention, while maintaining 24/7 coverage. Read more.

We updated our brand messaging to accurately reflect who we are. As CEO Roy de Souza talked about in his “ZEDO is Much More Than an Ad Server” blog entry in April, ZEDO has always been an industry leader, developing innovative advertising technology that publishers need and depend on. Our team and capabilities have grown, and now we offer much more than an ad server. In 2010, we introduced a new tagline, “Advertising Technology Partner for Publishers,” and a new slogan, “More Options, More Visibility, More Revenue”, and we’ve lived up to those promises. We are the only advertising technology company with the ability to help publishers monetize revenue three ways: direct sales, self-service advertising and automatic optimization. Our robust UI gives publishers more insight into forecasting, while our ADMagic technology helps publishers save bundles of time by letting them see ad data directly on their web pages. Finally, publishers can make more revenue with ZEDO’s RevMax ad network optimization system, rich media and Incremental ad formats.

We fought the war against Malvertising! We made great strides to decrease criminal viruses, bad ad data in ad chains, and fake advertisers. It all started with our blog post “Addressing vulnerabilities in the ad network chain”. As a true partner for publishers, we published an article in iMedia Connection listing five tips for preventing Malvertising on a website. Additionally, we strengthened our fight internally for our customers by establishing a Publisher Protection Plan, to ensure that our customers ad data is as clean as possible. To increase protection for publishers, we partnered with The Media Trust (TMT) and AdXpose verification systems.

  • TMT – enables us to find bad data that may have found its way into our customers’ ad tags.
  • AdXpose – Publishers can monitor and audit ad data, and stop bad ads on sites in real-time.

We did all this in 2010 while still supporting publisher needs 24/7. Our support team continued to be the most expert and competent advertising technology support team in the industry. Apart from dealing with serious issues that publishers faced such as BOT and Spider filtering, we developed a filter fraud clicks system based on time intervals. Repeated clicks from the same IP and browser, on a given creative, within a 5 minute period will be considered fraud clicks and discarded.

We can’t wait to see what we do for publishers in 2011!

For more information on any of our products or services, please click: http://www.zedo.com/technology/switchToZedo.htm

ZEDO Advertising Technology Updates – October 2010

Our latest batch of updates includes improvements for the Inventory Forecasting report, easier participation in our Behavioral Exchange, a new version of our popular ADMagic tool, a new Publisher Protection Program, and more.

Quickly Identify the Source of Problem Ads on your Site
Our popular Firefox browser plugin, ADMagic, shows you the source of every ad on your page.  Quickly identify problem banner ads and turn them off directly from the webpage.

The latest version of this plugin can be used by ad operations professionals at any site. You do not need to use ZEDO’s ad serving technology to use this plugin.

To read more or download the latest version, visit www.zedo.com/admagic.

Improve Performance in the ZEDO Behavioral Exchange
We’ve given you the ability to categorize your Channels. This is currently only available for Publishers and websites in the ZEDO Behavioral Exchange and will improve performance of our network on your various channels. The Exchange also allows you to opt in only to specific channels.

One Year Forecasting
It’s really important for customers to know how much inventory they can book for years to come. ZEDO has improved its forecasting engine; now you can plan campaigns up to one year in the future!

More Reach Frequency Report Options
We’ve  added various new report formats in Reach Frequency Reports, to help you better determine the effectiveness of your campaigns.

New Hourly graph on Home Dashboard
Tired of finding out about problems after they happen? ZEDO’s new hourly graph will not only show important statistical data, but also help you identify problems in real-time.

Why outsourcing extra ad ops capacity is good

Of ZEDO’s many Advertising Technologies and Services for publishers, outsourced trafficking is the one most in demand today because of its ability to help publishers cut cost.  Publishers using many different ad servers often ask me if ZEDO can help their ad ops team with overflow work load, and I am proud to always answer confidently that ZEDO certainly can.

The benefit of using outsourced ad ops for publishers is threefold:

1. Save Money.
ZEDO, for example, charges about half the fully loaded US cost of a full time ad operations employee (FTE). No one wants to be the one paying more than they have to.

2. More Coverage.
Customers ask my team all the time if someone can help them because their ad ops team is short staffed, or not working on weekends. Advertisers send requests late on Friday night or Saturday mornings and often want ads live by Monday. Publishers usually have great ad ops teams, but only during business hours. Outsourcing provides 24 hour 7 day a week coverage. I am excited that we can do this at any time of the day or night, and customers really appreciate it.

3. Avoiding Retention Issues.
Retaining great ad ops staff is hard work, in my experience. Entry level ad ops recruits often want to move to sales or development after a year.  That means hiring and training all over again and losing your best people. Outsourcing can be a better solution.  By signing up with ZEDO, publishers maintain their excellent senior teams and don’t waste time on hiring and retention. They find this quite a relief.

I think outsourcing of ad ops is the right way to go for publishers. We can add value to any publishers across the world. Outsourced ad ops is one of our big value adds today. Publishers cut costs, avoid wasting time on retention and get excellent 24/7 coverage to win and retain advertisers.

And, there is no better company than ZEDO to do this because we engineered an ad server – we know how they work. I, personally, and my team actually enjoy helping publishers to keep their advertisers happy.