In my seven years as an ad operations specialist, I have faced the following three dilemmas time and time again. Here's the best way to deal with them:
Dilemma 1: Why are my ads not getting more clicks and what can you do about it?
Ad traffickers often take on too much responsibility for the success of a campaign. Whether this because we are the first ones under scrutiny if something goes wrong, or because we have such granular control in our ad servers that we feel like we can change a campaigns destiny, the most important move in this situation is to establish boundaries around the functional areas of ad trafficking. It's crucial to identify all of the other variables which will impact an ads performance but are outside of your control.
For instance, as the trafficker we are responsible for scheduling the ad to deliver a number of impressions over periods of time, or flights to a particular part of the website. As part of that function we will be monitoring each campaign to ensure that its delivery is on target. If a campaign is not delivering on target we should notify the account manager in order to make the necessary adjustments to impressions across the various flight dates or by adjusting other parts of the campaign's targeting such as geo-targeting or zone targeting. We would then be effectively using the tools that are part of the ad trafficker's function to help improve the campaigns performance. That said, there are many other variables beyond the function of the ad trafficker and I believe ultimately that these elements -- such as creative size, messaging, offer and "intrusiveness" in relation to the visitor of your website -- have a greater impact on an ad's effectiveness beyond meeting impression goals. The insight you can provide in relation to these so-called "creative and marketing variables" will certainly make you an invaluable part of the team. However, keep in mind that the team includes the account manager and client partner -- the people who ultimately control these "creative and marketing variables."
Dilemma 2: I thought I asked you to run this many impressions? Why didn't you do that?
This dilemma revolves around client frustration related to "What happened? This isn't what I asked you to do." What I have learned in working with people across various organizations and functional areas is that you need to document all requests and file them in an easily retrievable system for yourself, because as the ad trafficker, you are the last person in the process chain. This is more so if you are working in a fast-pace culture where processes are casual. Personally, I ask that all requests be made by email and I create folders to file and save every email related to each project.
As an ad-trafficker, you will be implementing and monitoring multiple campaigns. Some campaigns may only run for a month while others will be up and running for several months with many flight and creative changes. Over that time, you may have discussions with the account manager and the client about delivery rates, impression re-allocations and targeting and creative changes. Be aware that everyone else is simultaneously dealing with other business priorities. Decisions will have been made and changes committed to, but as a responsible ad trafficker, the task should fall on you to document all changes to a campaign. The next time someone says "What happened? This isn't what I asked you to do," you can respond "Yes it was. Here's that email discussion we had four months ago outlining your request and our discussion about it." You will find that once the client is reminded of what changes were made, any misunderstanding and frustration is quickly diffused.
Dilemma 3: Am I just an ad ops person? It feels like I'm the SEO/Project Manager/Analytics/Executive Assistant.
It can be overwhelming, but ad ops is usually the nexus of an organization. For example, if you are in online media, as the ad ops trafficker, you will be working with sales and their clients, editorial and web development teams and accounting. Many ad trafficking candidates are generalists, who have dabbled in web development, online marketing or sales and customer service. Our generalist experience gives us a degree of technical facility coupled with the people skills to service clients (internal or external). As such, we are often the go to person for answers because we are involved in so many facets of an organization. Do yourself a favor and start to see yourself as an ad ops specialist. A good ad ops person is well versed in a number of tools and skills, but should not aspire to be the jack-of-all-trades for the entire organization. If there is an analytics guy, defer all analytics questions to him. If there is a project manager, defer all web development questions to her. Your role is a vitally important one: You ensure the provision of accurate ad-related information that will help sales sell, as well as maintain the quality and integrity of your websites ad infrastructure and provide exceptional client service.
Derrick Hoang is an ad operations manager in Toronto, Canada.
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