How to evaluate your ad operations efficiency

The well known line from Shakespeare's "Hamlet" -- "to be or not to be?" -- begs the question: Is it better to live or to die?

For a fledgling industry like digital, growth has been driven largely by innovation, be it in the realm of social media, new rich media formats, mobile, or new technologies. This is obviously a huge positive for all involved in the space, but it can also be wasteful and inefficient, sucking up millions of dollars without payback. The internet's increasing fragmentation of audiences means that both traditional businesses moving online and existing digital players are grappling with ways to drive more revenue. In this period of uncertainty, there is a definite realization that innovation alone is not enough to build and sustain a business.

For interactive agencies and online publishers, innovation has been pursued at the expense of operational efficiency -- but in fact, streamlining your business is imperative for success. From an agency perspective, it allows for on-time campaign delivery and optimization, and for publishers, accurate yield management and enhanced campaign performance.

Unsurprisingly, ad operations have become the backbone in driving operational efficiency by not only freeing up resources to focus on innovation, but also by enabling scalability and profitability as companies grow. But is this making best use of internal resources? How can agencies and publishers decide what to outsource and what to keep in house?

First and foremost, you have to ask if you're making the best use of what's already available. In the pursuit of revenue, it is easy to get side tracked by non-core tasks. For example, a content manager or salesperson on the publisher side may also be responsible for trafficking and tagging. Any task that is additional to your core job functionality usually requires a completely different skill set and can deflect from regular responsibilities.

Second, are you facing a recruitment crisis? Ad operations is a labor intensive process -- highly specialized but also repetitive. There is a notable scarcity of talent in this area, resulting in high salaries, but also high staff turnover.

Third, do you have a manual and/or cumbersome workflow process? Technology is not only seen as an operational requirement, but often becomes the substitute for workflow processes. While having the capability to handle marketing technology is important, understanding and implementing workflow processes in accordance with industry best practices is a vital first step.

Fourth, are you leveraging key optimization technologies? Because delivery management takes so much time and effort, mainly due to trafficking errors and creative troubleshooting, advanced technology features like targeting, performance optimization, and conversion reporting are seldom used. While it may not affect operational efficiency, it presents a lost opportunity, impacting yield management and campaign performance.

Finally, is your ad operations solution scalable? Factors like seasonality, fluctuations in sales cycles, and high growth all demand flexibility. This requires access to experienced on-demand resources, dependable turnaround times, and consistency in costs -- irrespective of the business climate.

Outsourcing secondary ad operations tasks can provide a scalable, efficient, and high-quality solution that frees up internal resources to concentrate on core revenue-generating activities. In addition, it can protect companies from challenges like staff churn, activity spikes, and lack of redundancy. In Hamlet's world, to be is most definitely the answer.

Charisse Tabak is VP of client service at Acceleration.

 

Comments

Benjamin Theriault
Benjamin Theriault January 15, 2009 at 9:03 AM

Charisse, all great points. From what I know of Acceleration, cost efficiencies and optimized processes are tantamount. Thank you for your article.