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AdMonsters' presentation from dmexco (September, 2009). "From the boiler room to the bridge: building a culture of excellence in ad operations"

AdMonsters' presentation from dmexco (September, 2009). "From the boiler room to the bridge: building a culture of excellence in ad operations"

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  • This is google’s entire computing center in 1999 the year admonsters held its first publisher forum in sea island geor1792 megabytes of memory 366 gigabytes of disk storage 2933 megahertz in 10 CPUs gia
  • A Google data center in oregon… the time they are a changing…Stats63,272 Machines126,544 Processors253,088 GHz Proccessing ability126,544 GB Memory5,062 TB Hard Drive Space------------------The economyManaging networks & optimizersFinding & retaining talentInnovating in ad operationsVideo and mobile finally becoming real
  • In 2009 AdMonsters held 66 events throughout the US and Europe and introduced two new types of programs. More than 850 member from ad operations teams around the world joined have joined us at our events so far this year.
  • Anyhow, enough about us…let’s get into what makes a great ad ops team in 2009 and beyond…I thought we’d start the discussion today with a look at how some of the very best ad operations teams work, how they are structured, and what key roles and responsibilities they play. Then we’ll rewind back to the early days of online advertisng and take a look at how far things have come for ad ops since then. As we move back and forth through the past dozen years or so, as yourself what year your ad operations team is in? Are you doing what the very best companies are doing? If not, what might a roadmap look like to get you there or at least partway there…
  • Okay, so these slides are a bit of a ‘Nirvana.’ and very few companies have all of the following in place. However, the very best ad operations teams have grown into critical areas of the business, true partners in not only executing completed sales but also in developing strategy and optimizing revenue. Here’s some of the ways they’ve done that.
  • This snapshot may not apply to your company and, in fact may seem completely unrealistic but we’ve seen the true market leaders develop most if not all of these areas for their ad operations teams…
  • By their very nature, ad operations teams have since the very beginning had to be innovators. Before the first web ad ever went up, sales people had been selling ads on tv, radio, print, and other media. Agencies had been planning ad campaigns. But never before had their been an online advertising operations role—it was brand new and had to be created from whole cloth. Often, team came up with their own solutions independent of one another, sometimes in partnership with technology vendors, sometimes on their own, using scripts, visual basic in excel, and other creative and innovative methods. This spirit of innovation permeates the very best ad ops teams to this day. As new challenges around mobile, creative, or video crop up, these teams face them head on and come up with solutions that work. Then, at events like AdMonsters, share and collaborate on the best solutions and drive the industry forward.
  • At its most simple, ad operations is all about making sure you make money from your online ad inventory. It’s up to them to make sure the campaigns deliver, that pages and users are monetized, and that sales deals are successfully executed so clients come back and spend more money with the media owner. At the very best organizations, inventory management, yield management, pricing, are all critical parts of operations. They serve as rational economic counterpoint to the sometimes overzealous and emotional sales teams—especially near the end of a quarter…an important check and balance to keep the money rolling in. They can report on incredibly fine levels of detail but at the same time can roll that data up and clearly communicate risks and rewards of any potential sales deal.
  • This is a snapshot of where the most foreward thinking ad ops team are today. To see how we got here, let’s go back in time and look at how ad ops has changed. If you found yourself snickering over the last couple slides or thinking “I wish” to yourself, think as we go through this history of where you are and what you need to do to start to bring your ad ops teams forward. Are you a circa 2001 shop? Are you a 2005 shop? Let’s start with the early days of ad operations…
  • Some publishers though haven’t come along…make sure the flow makes sense here…somehow it doesn’t…probably say that better….
  • During this period of huge increase in online ad spend, it was very hard for operations to get out from under the ever increasing volume of orders. While playing catch up, it’s hard to optimize for growth and scale. Instead, they are left constantly chasing a moving goal post.
  • Early ads were fairly simple
  • Static or animated gifs, occasionally some flash
  • Often the technology dictated the workflow and process as people made do with what was available…being creative and inventing solutions on the fly. I often hear from people, still, that the most important tool for Ad Ops is Excel. Yuck. Why is this still the case? Having ad ops teams that are senior enough to make and execute buying decisions plays a part of it. If sales is managing ad ops, they won’t care HOW the work is getting done as long as it is getting done. When managing growth, this is a HUGE scalaibility issue. Ask yourself is your company putting enough pressure on your vendors—do you treat them like employees? Do you ever fire them? Why not?
  • The standard banner was THE ad unit to use. While it’s emergence as the first ‘creative standard’ was great and helped bring some consistency to ad buys, it left a lot to be desired. However, it didn’t require a whole lot of technical skill to build or deliver.
  • A big one and one that we still see a lot today, especially in smaller markets or in companies that haven’t invested heavily in operational excellence. Ops is seen as the ‘step child’ of sales. The ‘data entry’ team for sales. The campaigns are thrown to ‘the ops guys’ once a deal is sold and, unless anything goes wrong, in which case it’s the ops team’s fault, it’s pretty much forgotten about. Ops can’t really act as a valid sounding board or check/balance for the sales team. The people in the ops team aren’t really senior enough to make buying decisions participate with trade organizations and standard setting bodies, there is no real pricing or yield potential. Ops hasn’t emerged as a true partner to sales…
  • Ad ops had a reputation, probably justified, of being a “dr no” … this didn’t do much to help relations between sales and ops and created an ‘us v. them’ mentality that wasn’t productive for anyone.
  • Ad ops were seen as (and often treated as) order takers and processors, data entry teams, and were expected to simply execute whatever the sales team sold
  • For those who’s job it was to take and process orders, the work wasn’t the most exciting. Ad ops would get some experience and often move on to other areas of the company or leave all together. They weren’t really involved in decision making at all.
  • Career path was unclear. What was the potential for an ops person if they didn’t want to go into sales? They could leave the team entirely and often did. Or even the company.
  • But of course when something was broken, it was the ops team who’d be called on to fix it.
  • Ad ops kept the engines going during a period of unprecedented growth, proving the backbone and the infrastructure for what was an entirely new medium. But at this rate it wasn’t really possible to continue without some changes. They had to get out of the boiler room and up to the bridge.
  • During this period of huge increase in online ad spend, it was very hard for operations to get out from under the ever increasing volume of orders. While playing catch up, it’s hard to optimize for growth and scale. Instead, they are left constantly chasing a moving goal post.
  • Guys that looked like this at the so-called ‘.coms’ of the time were talking to guys that looked like this either at fledgling digital agencies or at the bottom of the hill at big agencies. Then these same guys tried to get meetings with guys like this who had access to money like this.. To get access to the big brand money, it was going to require a change.
  • During this period of huge increase in online ad spend, it was very hard for operations to get out from under the ever increasing volume of orders. While playing catch up, it’s hard to optimize for growth and scale. Instead, they are left constantly chasing a moving goal post.
  • Adops a shambles, sales has matured, where does that lead ad ops? Senior executives at the time at some leading companies realized that it was not only a good idea to turn the focus on ad operations but was crticial to their success…These changes laid the ground work for what has become the ideal for ad ops teams…Phases of ad ops: Phase I: Rise of the Ad Ops Manager [best-trafficker/most-senior]; Phase II: Managing Growth/Scale [process; efficiencies]; Phase III Managing the Margin [GEC/CreditCrunch] protect the margin; Phase IV: Managing the Business [biz partner w/ sales etc. ad ops as revenue; larger remit]
  • From vicious cycle to virtuous circle
  • 90% acceptable threshold on ‘underdelivery’/discrepancyThis is largely down to human error (tagging, scheduling, creative, etc. NOT technical)Online advertising….90%...nearly 3 Bln….95% nearly 1.5 Bln…99% 300M….99.9% nearly 30M
  • Transition from ‘simply’ managing growth,/reacting to growth to managing ad operations as a business is tough...we need to look to other industries to scale and grow…in this example ‘kaizen’ toyota motor companyPROCESS and results…not just resultsMEASURING success
  • Those born between 1980 & 1990The goals were to: breed leaders within the team; reduce churn amongst ad operations; create a career path; create some institutional knowledge in the department
  • Offline: broadcast & printDuplicate and extend success to onlineNeeded to grow online revenuesAd operations was in the ‘1.0’ model: order takers, cost center, not revenue center, wasn’t able to grow the business. Had to look outside the ad ops world and think bigger than ‘promoting my best trafficker’ to manage the team. Finance and process expert.
  • 1) Ad ops will be seen and will BE a revenue, not a cost center2) Had to find an external business leader with a sold understanding of process; not just best trafficker3) Metrics for success are all around revenue; implemented YM tools to get visitiblityeCPM, inventory, prod dev4) The ad ops role is promoted to a true PARTNER of salesRestructured the team to reflect the changes and streamline ad operations as a revenue center
  • Furthering the concept of ad ops as rev center, ad operations can also lead innovation around advertisingPro activeStandard ad units while scalable are non-differentiated and becoming comoditized; how do they stand out from the competition, offer clients new ad products make WPNI seen as innovative
  • Editorial content didn’t really work for standard IAB ad unitsThe creative is integrated into the actual experienceRecord a camtastia screen grab (animated) to show
  • Phase IV
  • Career path was unclear. What was the potential for an ops person if they didn’t want to go into sales? They could leave the team entirely and often did. Or even the company.

AdMonsters dmexco Presentation AdMonsters dmexco Presentation Presentation Transcript

  • The boiler room to the bridge
    building a culture of excellence in ad operations
    September 24, 2009
  • Wilkommen
    Bienvenue
    Welcome
  • About AdMonsters
  • The only professional association exclusivelydedicated to online advertising operations and technology
  • 1999
  • Melanie Conner for The New York Times
    2009
  • What we do
    Publisher Forum
    Leadership Forum
    Network Operations Forum
    AdOps 360
    Webcasts
    Blog Series
    Consulting
    Training
    Hundreds of companies
    Over a thousand members
  • 66
    850
  • admonsters.org
    Visit for more information…
  • Boiler room
    The bridge…
  • The ‘bridge’ today
  • Business Partners
  • People managers
  • Innovators
  • Technology managers
  • Revenue assurance
  • Culture of continual improvement
  • The early days…1996 - 2002
  • Ad Ops, the early days
  • Il faut imaginer ad ops heureux
  • Boiler room to the bridge2002 - 2008
  • 2001-2002
  • Relative ad spend 2001-2004
  • the most dynamic and revolutionary changes of any era in the history of advertising
  • "Marketers large and small have come to accept digital media as the fulcrum of any marketing strategy”
    Randall Rothenburg, IAB US, 2007
  • “growth continues to be stimulated by the expansion of newer online ad platforms, such as broadband video, rich Internet applications, mobile, and social media”
    MediaPost, Q3 2007
  • Case studies in success
  • Orbitz: Kaizen in Ad Ops
  • 99.9%
  • 90%?
    95%?
    99%?
  • $30M
  • Orbitz: Kaizen in Ad Ops
    Ad Operations goal
    Provide the highest levels of quality to our customers
    Eliminate redundant and wasteful activities
    3 Principles of Kaizen –operational excellence through:
    Process and results (not results-only)
    Systemic thinking (i.e. big picture, not solely narrow view)
    Non-judgmental, non-blaming (blaming is wasteful)
    PCDA –Plan, Do, Check & Act
    FOCUS on quality –strive for 100% (99.9% is not adequate)
  • P D C A
  • Orbitz: Kaizen in Ad Ops
    How to achieve this
    Operations teams achieve high quality through continuous improvement, learning, modifying process and adapting to change.
    The Japanese refer to this as Kaizen, which means, ‘change for the better’ or ‘improvement’. The English translation is continual improvement’
    Results at Orbitz
    Since debuting this concept in 2005 organization has eliminated waste, cross-trained teams and balanced the workload
    Scalable framework for managing and measuring excellence
    Eliminated redundant activities and automated many processes
    Better balance of responsibilities for the department
    Strong team mentality
  • Microsoft: The Staffing Challenge
    How to get more from their ad ops team?
    High churn levels at lower Ad Operations positions
    Ad Operations people tend to not have a career path
    The “Millennial” problem…
  • Microsoft: The Staffing Challenge
    Invest in People
    Outline career paths
    Management path or Professional path
    Functional Leader or broad Business Leader
    Extend Job Responsibilities Quickly
    Share Reality with employees
    Measure Performance; Reward Success
    Measure results
    Hold managers accountable
  • Microsoft: The Staffing Challenge
    Results
    Team Leaders and Team Members have well defined goals
    Team Members know their importance to the company
    Department can scale efficiently
    Manager accountability
    Reduced churn in the department
  • Martha Stewart: Ad Ops as Revenue Center
    Major offline U.S. Media Brand
    Needed to drive online revenue
    Needed to shift from a ‘trafficking’ structure to a revenue center structure
  • Martha Stewart: Ad Ops as Revenue Center
    Hired Matthew Gay, VP Media Advertising Operations
    Not originally in Ad Operations, but finance and process expert
    Metrics of department success all around revenue
    Hired the right people for the right jobs but not necessarily from ad operations
    Implemented process changes throughout organization
    Implement Yield Management tools
  • Martha Stewart: Ad Ops as Revenue Center
    Results
    Ad Operations seen as the provider of logical and rational information for the organization.
    Ad Operations seen as Revenue Center not a data center
    Inventory review & management reporting
    Focus on yield & monetization within ad operations
  • Washington PostAd Product Innovators
  • Washington Post: Ad Product Innovators
    Growing Revenue by being Innovative
    Standard units are commoditized...non-differentiated
    Networks have lowered the bar on pricing
    Can help a non-differentiated site stand out in the crowd
    Clients/Agencies are looking for things that have never been done
  • Ad Product Innovation
  • Ad Product Innovation
  • Washington Post: Ad Product Innovators
    Developed culture of innovation
    Created team solely focused on developing innovative ad products.
    Team works with all internal departments and with clients to bring ideas to fruition fast.
    Departments meet together to share new ideas.
    Ad Operations seen as an enabler of revenue.
  • Yahoo!: Ad ops, Top Down
    Top tier clients demand top tier service
    Ad Operations is about business process, not trafficking
    Wenda Millard in the US and Fru Hazlitt in Europe
  • Yahoo!: Ad Ops Top Down
    Raise the game of operations
    Create VP of ad ops
    Getting a handle on inventory/pricing/yield critical
    Big investment in both people and tech to get there
    In house technology and creative teams
    Rational economic decisions trump irrational emotional ones
    Sales & Operations in partnership
    Align corporate priorities and sales incentives…with Ops providing the insight
  • What do these all have in common
    Executive level cheerleader who support ad operations
    Ad Operations has been challenges and/or allowed to step up
    These companies view the organization more as business ops than simply ‘ad ops’ and certainly ‘trafficking’
    Understand that ad operations is about more than just managing ads and campaigns its about growing the business
    Have created a role for a senior ad operations leader within their org
  • Near term challenges
  • 2010 Challenges
    New technologies and pressure to monetize them
    Video & mobile
    Economic climate drawing C-level attention to Ad Ops. Need to communicate challenges and justifications, better reporting
    Pressure on revenue leading to increased demand for ad network deals. More sales ‘custom ads’ and pressure for ‘rule bending’
    Desire for increased targeting
    Reduction or freezing of staff levels
  • Suggested Takeaways
  • Ad Ops, the early days
  • Are you an ad ops leader?
    Where are you in the evolution of ad ops?
    What will your plan be to get ops to the bridge?
    Is ad ops a business partner or an order taker?
    Is 90% good enough?
    What’s your plan for implementing Kaizen in your operations?
    How do you find and keep the BEST talent in ad ops?
    If you are, what more can you be doing to
    Grow as a revenue center
    Create career paths
  • Thank you
    Matt O’Neill
    matt@admonsters.org