written by
Landon Bennett

Four tips on leading high-performing ad operations teams

Ad Ops 3 min read

Ad operations teams are often under-appreciated, undervalued, and resource-strapped. Surprisingly enough, they’re often the ad tech knowledge base for the rest of the org, and they’re responsible for managing, serving, optimizing the orgs most valuable asset: ads/revenue. Core responsibilities include:

1. Trafficking:

  • Creative build, ad tag generation, ad preview and feedback (try previewads.com)
  • Campaign management (e.g. DFP, AppNexus, The Trade Desk)
  • Post Campaign reports (e.g. Ad screenshots)

2. Analytics & Optimization:

  • Viewability & Verification
  • Find/Fix issues if campaigns aren’t meeting goals

3. Data onboarding, targeting, and retargeting

4. Support, Testing, Troubleshooting, and organization knowledge center

  • Pre-production Ad QA
  • Production ad and programmatic vendor testing/QA
  • Ad fraud detection
  • Troubleshooting with 3rd parties (e.g. clients, agencies)
  • Ad tech knowledge center for the rest of org (if you’re in ad operations, you know what I’m talking about)
Ad operations teams are often under-appreciated, undervalued, and resource-strapped. Surprisingly enough, they’re often the ad tech knowledge base for the rest of the org, and they’re responsible for managing, serving, reporting (ad screenshots), optimizing the orgs most valuable asset: ads/revenue

I know. If you’re a publisher, you’re saying content is king. It should be, but if you truly believed that, then you wouldn’t have only 50% of your site’s requests dedicated to content (looking at all the request from 10 of the top pub sites).

Okay, now that we can agree that ad operations are a pretty core to revenue and UX, how do you build and run a great team? We’ve discussed this topic with multiple ad operations leaders and wanted to share the consensus.

Recruit the right people to your ad operations team

This sounds cliché, but that’s because it's true. Great people can do 2–3x in quantity and quality. Look for a diverse group of people that are self-starters, analytical, and love solving problems (Admonsters has a great post on things to look for). Every day there are new problems to solve, and if this doesn’t excite them, they won’t be a good fit. Ad tech is incredibly complex. A great ad operations pro loves figuring things out. Look for this person.

Meet consistently

Schedule a team meeting every week/month to regroup, focus, and learn. A couple of ideas for an agenda:

  • Guest Speakers: If you’re in NYC, LA, SF, etc., how many ad operations leaders could you bring in to discuss their path or topics of the day?
  • Recognition: A great way to keep morale high and show you care about the impact people are having is to recognize teams or individuals for great work. You can have individuals recognize their peers too. This brings the team together.
  • Announcements & metrics: You can’t improve what you don’t measure. Keep the team (and individuals) accountable to metrics and work to improve them. This is a great time for discussing changes/announcements so that the team can ask questions.
  • Wins: Discuss big wins and how they were won. Each member of the team has knowledge that has led them to different successes, and they should be shared for the improvement of the team as a whole.

Improve 1% every day

Set a goal of improving 1% every day. Ad operations can be a grind. It can be really easy to lose focus working on so many different things on a daily basis. If you have a short term focus to improve 1% as a team every day, it compounds:

Automate ad operations as much as you can

A simple way to improve operations is to automate what doesn’t need human expertise. The best ad operations pros have an incredibly high understanding of the inner-workings of ad tech. Unfortunately, much of ad operations include repetitive, tedious tasks (lots of entering info into spreadsheets, manual ad screenshots, etc.). It’s wasted time that could be better spent on more impactful work. Provide your ad operations teams with tools to automate these types of repetitive tasks. You’ll get better results out of your team, and you’ll improve your team’s morale (less employee churn and less money spent on recruiting/training).

Harmless plug: we’re working on an intelligent assistant at Ad Reform that can automate a lot of these tasks for you and your team such as campaign screenshots and landing page QA.

Hopefully, this gives you one or two ideas for improving your ad operations team. I know I’ve left some things out so leave a comment and let us know what types of things your team is doing to give your organization an edge.

Ad Ops