Agency Ad Ops is a Product, Not a Delivery System

Blog   |   Lorne Brown   |   June 25, 2014

There’s ad ops, and then there’s premium ad ops.

The former is a service. The latter is a monetizable product.

The difference? Delivery.

Agency ad operations is an intricate business, dependent on variable factors like client relationships, strokes of creative genius, and insight into consumer behaviors. But the business of advertising is rooted in buying, selling, and executing advertising media.

While great creative is undeniably important, execution is key. Even the best idea in the world can’t win a brand over if they fear it won’t reach their target audience when and where it’s supposed to.

Advertising is too big of a business for the ‘how’ to be an afterthought. While brands are interested in the creative, they rely on and fast, accurate execution and detailed reporting that analyzes the outcome of their campaigns.

A few weeks ago, I had lunch with a top global executive at one of the world’s largest media agencies, and he said to me, “This is one of the most strategic partnerships we have right now.”

It’s simple: we provide world-class ad operations services to deliver world-class media. The business of advertising is rooted in talented people doing what they do best. We deliver expert services that agencies productize and sell as premium ad ops to win new business and generate revenue.

When brands are confronted with multiple good ideas to choose from, an agency’s ability to offer guaranteed execution can be the extra boost that edges out the competition.

The Premium Delivery Model

Let’s talk about Amazon for a second. They’ve created a system that incentivizes consumers to pay a premium price for expedited delivery. Amazon has established a tiered pricing model in which one can (and will) pay extra to get the exact same item faster, with guaranteed delivery from a source that they trust.

Amazon Prime has turned delivery itself into a product that not only increases revenue, but differentiates the company in the ecommerce industry for its reliability and convenience.

It’s possible for agencies to position their ad operations services similarly to Amzon in order to earn the preferred provider reputation.

It’s more than possible, it’s essential.

Partnering with someone who can optimize the ad ops process not only gives agencies the opportunity to offer a superior product to top brand clients, but it also frees up talented employees to work on smarter tasks. When delivery is no longer an object of concern, strategy and growth can become the focus.

Solving the Tedium of Ad Ops

I started as an ad ops guy. I saw firsthand teams of ops managers whose only job was to input server data or refresh a screen thousands of times to make sure all campaigns were running.

I saw people accepting the fact that the majority of ad ops is repetitive and redundant. Teams were incapable of innovation, not only because they weren’t being held to a higher standard, but also because they weren’t being given the opportunity. That’s why I started Operative.

At first, my goal was to provide media companies an opportunity to outsource their most tedious manual tasks. When creative chasing, tag implementation and reporting are removed from the queue, ad ops managers can use their skills to optimize campaigns, something that currently only gets done about 20% of the time.*

But I began to see that the key was not only to eliminate the tedium, but to monetize the entire ad ops process, resulting in a premium agency product as well as a culture of innovation, in which ad ops becomes motivated to develop better products and practices. Not only is this more efficient, it’s more exciting. It results in a happier and more productive workforce that can help shape an agency’s growth.

Scaling Ad Ops Globally

[Photo Credit: caribb via Compfight cc]
Our biggest agency client came to us in 2010 with 68 of their brands to manage. Today, we service 166 of their accounts with 99.9% accuracy and guaranteed turnaround times. But what’s really interesting is how our partnership has allowed the agency to implement strategic initiatives that they otherwise never would have been able to.

Last January we partnered with them to roll out a DMP pixel across all their campaigns. In the past, if they wanted to roll out a new product, workflow, or technology across all of their brands, it took 6-9 months. Our services and support team implemented this network-wide pixel in less than a week.

The skilled in-house group that would have spent 6 months on this one implementation, instead were able to spend their time working on new targeting methods and building client relationships. As an added bonus, if the agency wins an unexpected large campaign, our joined ad ops teams can scale seamlessly to accommodate the extra work.

Stop Selling Ad Ops Short

Every business in every industry can benefit from having low-ROI tasks removed from their plate. That’s a no brainer. The key is taking the time and expertise gained from that, and using it to drive more revenue and to build a competitive advantage in the marketplace.

Digital ad agencies in particular are ideal candidates for this type of thinking, as the growth and maintenance of their business relies almost entirely on winning and retaining big brand clients. And the surefire way to do that successfully is to provide expert execution – every time.