Outsourcing your ad operations is a major decision that should not be taken lightly. Finding the right partner for any type of project, from the basic nuts and bolts of ad ops to strategic consulting projects like adserver migrations, header implementations, custom dashboard creation is key to building long-term productive relationships. With that in mind, here are some questions to ask as you begin your search.
- What are their areas of expertise?
You want to find an ad ops firm that is focused on what you actually need. If your major challenge is monetizing display inventory via programmatic, you want a team with deep experience with technologies and vendors. If you are launching an OTT app and need help pricing out a video strategy, you would be best served by a firm that has launched, sold or managed OTT apps themselves. If you direct-sell large custom programs, you need a partner with an understanding of what it really takes to execute at a high level. You can gather this information from their website, by asking pointed questions and via references.
- Where are they based?
Today’s media world is largely distributed with many world-class teams working entirely remotely. However, you want to find a partner that is able to support the various time zones that your business operates in and is able to attend any required in-person meetings. In a remote environment, it is important to choose a partner with experience doing so, having access to all requisite technologies that facilitate such configurations.
- What is the experience of their team?
Not the salesperson trying to sign you as a client, but the actual people who will be doing the work. What is their experience? Does it align with your needs? Is the company bring run by someone with appropriate experience managing large projects and teams of employees? One of the most important things is to find people who have seen it all, so you spend less time having to manage them. If they are not able to respond with authority about the subjects most important to you, you may want to continue your search.
- Who are their current and past clients?
Have they worked with companies similar to yours before? While there is consistency across the publisher landscape, there are enough differences to be meaningful. If you are a high-end content business with a big sales team that sells most of your inventory as branded content and sponsorships, working with a company that works with mostly long tail publishers doesn’t make a lot of sense. Ask for referrals and speak with them. You’ll often be surprised about how helpful and candid people in similar positions can be.
- Do they focus on one thing or try to do it all?
You must try to strike a balance between companies that can expand their scope to meet your needs versus those that only do one thing. They need to be focused enough to excel at what they do but broad enough to address a wide range of publisher needs. It is a good idea to take the time to outline all of your requirements prior to engaging potential partners. A formal ad ops outsourcing RFP can be a great idea but even internal notes on pain points, key tasks, etc can go a long way.
- Is there cultural alignment?
If your company is a highly formal, structured, process-driven organization, you are more likely to find success with a partner that operates in a similar fashion. If you are a startup or a more fluid company, working with a firm that is willing to adapt to your process and style might make more sense. Day-to-day communication is the most important aspect of any outsourcing relationship so taking the time to optimize and align on this prior to any relationship is absolutely critical.