What should I expect?

This is one of the most common questions I hear from publishers large and small who are constantly evaluating new opportunities, technologies and partnerships. They want to know what the potential upside is of implementing that new ad unit or adding that new tool into their arsenal. From an ad operations and yield management standpoint, they want to know how much of a CPM lift can be expected by launching a solution like prebid.js for header bidding, or by activating Google’s Exchange Bidding and pulling additional demand into DFP. From a sales perspective, they want to know what kind of edge they will have, if any, by enhancing their measurement capabilities via 3rd party data sources like credit card processors or review sites. Product people want to know how much time spent, pageviews per session or other key performance metrics might improve by implementing 3rd party optimization tools.

Despite each vendor promising seamless, hassle-free implementation, these initiatives still require internal resources and effort that could otherwise have been spent on something else. Thus the underlying factors behind go/no-go decisions include the effort required, disruptions to internal roadmaps, and perhaps most importantly, the potential upside or impact. Oftentimes, because the impact is vague or unknown, the default decision is to simply punt to a later date. I have done this countless times myself and almost always realized later that it would have been better to either schedule the implementation immediately or give the project (and the vendor) a firm no. We spend far too much time dealing with inbound cold calls and follow ups and providing honest reasons why something does not make sense or cannot be done would eliminate a lot of this noise.

Many times, unless the opportunity is completely nascent, other people in the decision-maker or business-stakeholder position will have experience with the product, vendor or technology you are considering. Reaching out to get feedback - assuming you trust it will be unbiased - is one of the best ways to evaluate whether something is worth pursuing. You get an idea of the effort required to get up and running, ballpark performance metrics and what the post-launch experience is like: customer service, ongoing enhancements, etc. If you can’t identify friends and colleagues who have experience with something, there are firms like ours that specialize in helping publishers evaluate new opportunities leveraging deep experience across a wide range of verticals, technologies and platforms.

In the absence of someone to speak to about new opportunities and initiatives, the best thing to do is consider the roadmap you already have in front of you and determine if the potential upside is significant enough to interrupt that schedule. Part of being a leader and business stakeholder means making decisions with incomplete information. The companies that consistently innovate are not afraid to take risks. Equally as important if not more so, they are also willing to admit when something isn’t working and quickly pivot as needed.

What to do when times are tough

When things are going well, it's easy to keep employees happy and engaged, make snap decisions and create alignment across your organization. When you’re hitting your numbers, growing at a record clip each month, feeling the rush that comes with success, the hardest thing to do is stop and prepare for the inevitable time when those trends slow or reverse. Ultimately, every business will be faced with challenges that will test their resilience. The digital media world is no different, and many publishers are facing such challenges right now. Advertisers are cutting spend and evaluating their partners much more closely. Every dollar has become a dog fight. Facebook and Google continue to use their scale and data to absorb nearly every new dollar flowing into digital (not to mention tweak their algorhythms to the detriment of publishers). Changes in consumer behavior are straining the clicks = pageviews = impressions model.

Under this backdrop, it is more important than ever that publishers both large and small have processes in place so that employees can respond to difficult situations and make optimal decisions. Leaders at media companies must also be willing to discuss problems openly and address them head on. It is surprisingly difficult to filter out short term distractions and shiny objects and focus on the things that will create long term value.

Having worked at startups of various sizes, my opinion is that the single biggest contributor to all the negative things you hear about startup culture - from chaotic environments to high stress levels to directionless management - is an unrealistic set of goals. As soon as companies hit a high-growth stage, the prevailing belief is that they must continue to accelerate at the same or increasing rates in order to be successful. After all, they have multiple constituents to answer to: investors, boards of directors, employees. However, maintaining early stage growth rates indefinitely is nearly impossible. The only guarantee is that any pressure felt at the top will trickle down to all employees and manifest itself in a culture of infighting, blame and eventually burnout. This is not to say that the goals should be layups. They should be aggressive but achievable.

Numerous studies show that what employees want these days more than anything is to feel a sense of purpose, that they have a voice and that they are learning and growing every day. Assuming their compensation is adequate and they have a manager they can trust, focusing on employee growth and education can be one of the most impactful things a company can do. Establishing a clear vision and connecting the mission to the work employees are doing every day will go a long way to create that sense of purpose and meaning. By making weekly or bi-weekly 1 on 1 meetings between employees and managers sacred and using that time to discuss goals, priorities and challenges, the employee will feel heard and appreciated. The manager should spend at least 80% of this time listening. By investing in employees through training, conferences, and internal workshopping, they will be improving their craft which will give them a real sense of opportunity. It doesn’t have to be overly formal or expensive, but investing in your people can be game changing.

For publishers, one of the most difficult things to do is eliminate or forego something that is working and/or providing consistent revenue in order to address deeper underlying problems. Examples of this could be a traffic source that is providing a steady stream of users of dubious quality, or a monetization partner that compromises the user experience. The idea of removing these altogether can paralyze publishers from making decisions that will create more value over time. In these situations its important to play the long game and remember that most of the time, these types of businesses are the often the first to be challenged when sea change arrives. Taking one step back in order to take two or three steps forward is one of the hardest, but smartest things publishers can do.

When it comes to decision making, having a bulletproof internal process is absolutely critical in times of uncertainty or stress. If the boss or founder must make every important decision, the likelihood of bottlenecks and paralysis becomes extremely likely. Instead, empower top talent to solve problems autonomously and give them the tools to do so. Provide a framework for thinking about decision making and let them know that they will not be punished for their mistakes. When the going gets tough, if each employee knows that their manager and company leadership will have their back, they will be able to act swiftly and decisively to keep things moving in the right direction.

How do I know if that demand source is legit?

If you’re a publisher and you have a "contact us" email listed on your site, chances are you get multiple emails from demand sources and ad tech vendors nearly every day. From traditional ad networks to exchanges, from SSPs to vendors with proprietary ad units, the lumascape is certainly not getting cleaner. One of the most common questions we get from current and prospective clients is “who should we be working with?” Honestly, even with a birds-eye view across multiple verticals and different types and sizes of publishers it is still difficult to keep track. However, given how often this comes up and how important these decisions are, it is not something that can be ignored in the hopes that it will go away or resolve itself.

Based on our experience with dozens of different demand sources over years, here are some questions to ask and things to consider:

Has anyone heard of them? New vendors and platforms are popping up constantly. Its impossible to keep track of every firm and whether or not they are worth pursuing. Ask around. See if colleagues have heard of the company you’re evaluating, or better yet any firsthand experience. The demand sources for pubs is a good living document. Check reddit or do a google search.

How’s their English? While not always an immediate disqualifier, this should raise red flags. If their sales person cannot compose a simple legible email, what do you think their day-to-day support is going to be like? Read their website. If you find typos, boilerplate language, lack of an about us page with actual human employees/founders or no address on their contact us page, the risk is probably not worth the reward. One exception to this rule is if you are looking for significant international demand. In that case, if you’ve found a firm that matches up well with the audience you are looking to monetize, you will want to have a signed agreement and a clear understanding of their support process and availability before launching their tags.

Where does their demand come from? Do they have their own sales team or are they simply re-brokering demand from other sources? Any firm that claims to be able to get you higher yields from something you can do yourself is unlikely to deliver any long term value. The ad tech ecosystem is so rife with middlemen they are unavoidable, but at the very least you should make sure that they have their own sales channel or some proprietary technology that is more than just marketing hype.

What is their reporting dashboard like? You want access to daily data, broken out by ad unit or ad size and you want to be able to export it into excel. Plenty of other possible functionality, but these are must haves. Seems simple enough, but surprisingly uncommon.

Where do they perform best? Their top-performing geos should match up with your traffic. If your audience skews more mobile than desktop, you’ll want proprietary ad units and confirmation that mobile is a major focus of their business. If you run a heavily visual website with a lot of images, you may want to seek out a vendor that specializes in image-based monetization.

What are they willing to guarantee? Will they commit to a minimum spend? Ultimately, they need you as much as (if not more than) you need them. If they are asking to run a test, make them guarantee a CPM, ideally with 100% fill. They should also commit to spending a minimum amount. Remember, you still have to deal with the headache of collecting payment even if you only run $100 worth of inventory.

Don’t brush over the nitty gritty. Read their agreement or IO. Find out what the payment terms are. Many times, they stipulate that you don’t get paid until they do by they advertiser. That can mean 90 days or more. Often they require the publisher to invoice them, which is another thing for your team to deal with. 

What’s the impact? Most importantly, what is the upside for you? Are you inserting additional generic display demand into an already cluttered ad stack, so that there is little upside to be made? Are you introducing a heavily intrusive unit onto an already overloaded page? As a publisher, your most important (and for many only) asset is your audience. Do not piss them off. Maintain focus on the long run and only try new units of monetization after careful analysis.

The next time you comb through your “contact us” inbox trying to decide what to respond to and what to delete, remember these rules. Select partners that are well known and trusted, force them to bring real value to you and hold them accountable.

Establishing rules to live by

Amazon is well known for having a published list of leadership principles. There are 13 of them and they are so well engrained into the culture that employees actually weave them into everyday conversation. I know this intimately, my wife having worked at Amazon for years. Initially my reaction was to scoff at such overt devotion, but on a week when the Amazon stock price surpassed $1,000 per share, I cannot help but appreciate what they have accomplished. To maintain that consistent vision in an organization with hundreds of thousands of employees is as impressive as their financial performance.

In contrast, I recently finished the book Small Giants by Bo Burlingham. It is about a dozen or so companies that chose to "be great instead of big.” Their founders made the decision to prioritize a different set of values ahead of growth. Some did this out of a desire to lead an exceptional life without undue stress. Others out of a fierce loyalty to their employees, customers and suppliers. Still others a drive to improve the community around them. Having spent a majority of my career working at growth-obsessed startups, I found myself reacting to these stories with a mix of appreciation and disbelief. After all, isn’t the life blood of capitalism continued and relentless growth (which is reinvested in capital projects, which creates jobs, which increases spending, which makes the world go round)? While we all want our companies to be successful, whether we own them or work for them, it is encouraging and important to recognize that success can take different forms.

As a small business owner myself and as someone who is always striving improve, I’ve been thinking a lot about how to clearly convey what we stand for. I want employees to live it, vendors and partners to appreciate it and most importantly for clients to feel it in their interactions with us every day.

Below is a list of principles that 360ops aims to live by. I don’t expect these to be final or to last forever, but if we can embrace them and act accordingly, we will be well positioned for continued success.

Client First

Put the publisher’s interest ahead of our own.

Take Ownership

Take extreme ownership of everything in our world, especially in stressful moments. Learn from mistakes and never make the same one twice.

Always Add Value

Add value for the publisher, either through increased yields or reduced costs. We must do this in order to remain in business.

Be Proactive

Anticipate the publisher’s needs and address them before they ask. They should never wonder what we are working on.

Take the Extra Step

Be obsessively thorough in every project and deliverable, going above and beyond the obvious.

The future of display

This will be part of an ongoing series about the future of the display advertising business for digital publishers.

We are fortunate enough to work with publishers across the business-model spectrum, from those that rely exclusively on programmatic to others that are deeply focused on native content creation to "freemium” or mixed publishers. The display advertising business model for publishers evolved as a way to translate the existing print or billboard formats to our computer screens. In order for anything to successfully be bought and sold in a truly scalable fashion, there needs to be a consistent unit of measurement. Within internet advertising, the banner ad is that unit.

Over time, dollars will flow to the top-end of the publisher spectrum for content creation and to the middle with audience data overlays. The bottom end long-tail publishers will continue to see downward price pressure as advertisers optimize toward higher-value channels. Now more than ever, context is relevant. If an advertiser can buy video ads at scale for an efficient price, but they run adjacent ISIS-promoting or racist videos, is it worth doing? The differentiating aspect of digital versus other forms of media is its measurability. Eventually, everything becomes independently trackable and measurable, and those platforms or publishers that refuse will lose out on significant opportunities.

For publishers, there are several key disciplines to focus on when it comes to monetization:

Context: the brand, the user-experience, the types of content created. The old adage that content is king has been challenged in recent years with the rise of social networks and the black hole of user-generated content, but premium brands still want to align with premium environments. Audience is important, but again if you deliver the right ad to the right person but its in an environment antithetical to the advertiser’s brand, it likely has a negative impact in the long run.

Audience: publishers with a specific audience will maintain an advantage in their sales strategy. A few examples would include VICE, which owns the millennial audience, any number of finance sites that attract affluent males or an organization like XO Group, which owns TheKnot (weddings), TheNest (newlyweds) and TheBump (pregnancy and parenting). These publishers have much less heavy lifting to do in proving the value of their audience to potential advertisers - it is apparent through the content they produce and backed up in ComScore. One approach is the VOX model where you have standalone brands with clearly defined identities. Another would be to create channels or franchises that live within (or are powered by) the parent brand but resonate with consumers on their own. Regardless of the specific strategy, creating content that serves the cravings of a particular audience with a unique voice and brand creates loyalty and ultimately leads to growth.

Data and optimization: it is rare for a publisher to have a functional, fully optimized data and reporting platform that captures all relevant metrics in real-time and presents them in a way that allows for strategic decision making. Often the publishers that are best at this are smaller, without direct sales teams, and have spent months or years optimizing their indirect ad stack because it makes up their entire revenue stream. We work with lots of companies in this category and if the top publishers approached their data in a similar way, they would have a distinct advantage.

Much has been written about the fact that nearly every new dollar flowing into digital is going to Facebook and Google, with little more than scraps left over for independent publishers. However, I believe that publishers that win at more than one of the above will be well positioned to capture an increasing share of the budgets flowing into digital media.

Communication systems for effective teamwork

I am often asked for my favorite systems for creating and maintaining efficiency across teams, especially during periods of rapid growth. Having worked for and with companies large, small and everywhere in between, I have learned a lot about what it takes to keep people aligned and effective in pursuit of shared goals. The processes that work for a two person business will often break down as soon as a third employee is added. Extrapolate this to tens, hundreds and eventually thousands of people and the importance of effective communication systems becomes abundantly clear. In virtual workplaces, which are becoming more and more common, especially for digital publishers, there is a different but related set of challenges. When you are running a media business, real-time communication across your account management, adops and sales teams is critical.

We use Slack for day-to-day communication and make every effort to minimize our use of email. I’m often asked “what’s so great about Slack?” and generally struggle to provide a compelling answer. However, after a few weeks those same people are complete converts. It can be organized to match your workflow, accepts file uploads and screenshots (particularly useful for anyone in ad operations), synchs across your mobile devices and is entirely searchable. All conversations are archived so you no longer have to ask the same question multiple times. There are competitive alternatives out there (excluding google chat, which I hate) but we prefer Slack.

For projects and tasks, I use Asana both personally and for my businesses. I am able to capture anything that needs to be remembered or completed, assign tasks to teammates, structure the data in the most useful (and searchable) way for me and further customize the platform to my needs. The fact that it is web-based is a draw back in my opinion and until recently the mobile app did not function while offline (particularly annoying for someone who commutes via subway), but they are constantly making improvements. Having a tool that allows you to break projects down into actionable pieces and schedule them accordingly is among the biggest factors in delivering successful projects on time. Other options include Trello (pretty similar to Asana), GitHub (primarily for developers) and Omnifocus (great for individuals).

Google docs has proven to be the best way of creating and maintaining shared files. We use an enterprise file server, Egnyte, as well, and it is fantastic, but the ability to collaborate in real-time on shared files is extremely powerful. The biggest limitation, especially as it relates to ad ops and monetization, is the lack of functionality in Google Sheets as compared to Excel. Creating pivot tables, inserting macros, handling large data sets with complex formatting is challenging to the point of frustration. Because of this we tend to use Google Sheets only for simple reports that need to be shared in real-time.

Software and tools are only good enough if they are supported by strong, consistent internal processes. For larger teams, an effective approach for managers, especially those overseeing multiple teams, is to send out a regular communication (an email or a newsletter are the most obvious mediums) to all relevant people. I find myself constantly having individual and small group conversations that do not always filter out as I would like. Controlling the message and ensuring that everyone has all relevant info, especially as it relates to hiring, new products, major corporate initiatives and things that will affect them directly can have a significant return on a relatively small amount of time invested.

The most important thing to remember is that everyone in your organization knows what your long term objectives are and how their own work contributes to achieving those. These can and should be broken down into smaller, actionable components with shorter-term tasks. You need a place to monitor progress against those and some consistent and widely applied way of communicating within teams and as individuals. If you build your foundation on those principles, you’ll be well on your way to operating as a world-class team.

How smaller publishers can act bigger

In speaking with publishers large and small on a daily basis, one common theme I’ve found is that they all strive to punch above their weight class when it comes to their ad stack and operational workflow. They want to use the latest technologies. They want to have access to the best demand sources while ignoring the worst. They want a world class team that is up to speed on the latest macro forces driving the market. They want to package their inventory and assets in the most advantageous way possible, following best practices across the industry.

Having seen the full spectrum of publisher businesses, from one man shops to 500+ person organizations, I can tell you that there is no such thing as growing up too early when it comes to processes and procedures. Certainly, a small, very focused team would have less need for an intranet or wiki than a distributed global workforce of thousands, but there are things every publisher can do to ensure they are in the best position to scale. Below are some ideas to inspire your own thinking.

Adserver architecture and ad tagging. In almost every situation we have walked into, the ad tagging structure of the publisher’s site is not what they would choose if they were to start from scratch today. Typically, ad unit naming conventions and overall adserver architecture was set up in the past with little thought given to the future evolution of the business. Perhaps it was set up by a developer or product manager as there was no in-house ad ops expertise available. Perhaps the site has been redesigned multiple times since the inception of their ad-supported business and the sections or content types no longer align with what is being sold. Making this a critical aspect of any project to update or redesign the site is important to maintaining a modern, adaptable framework. In the absence of any major projects or upgrades, publishers should perform a regular system audit to eliminate items that are no longer relevant and implement improvements where possible. Publishers without a direct sales team may not see the benefit of architecting a system that allows for micro-targeting, but those with ambitions beyond passive monetization should anticipate the demands of their future advertisers. This includes contextual, keyword, behavioral and data targeting capabilities among others.

Process and procedures. Often, when there is one person running ad ops, especially if they do not have a traditional ad ops background, a complete lack of process evolves because they feel like it solidifies their value within the organization. Ultimately, however, this does more harm than good in the long run. It may be overkill to pay $10,000 per month for a sophisticated order-entry system that “automates” the initial trafficking of campaigns for a publisher that doesn’t bring in much more than that in total monthly revenue, but that doesn't mean they can't benefit from some standard procedures. Without a written understanding of how things get done, the individual or individuals responsible will never be able to take vacation and they leave a massive knowledge gap in their wake if they leave the company. Make the creation of written process documentation a part of their job description and reassure them that capturing their knowledge and expertise will allow them to accelerate their own growth rather than make them less valuable.

Communication systems. In high-pressure, real-time businesses like media and publishing, communication becomes one of the most important (yet elusive) disciplines to master. Between email, instant-message, social media, internal meetings and conference calls, we quickly become overwhelmed simply with managing the deluge, let alone actually taking control and being productive. Make this an area of excellence at your company and you will not regret it. Take the time to implement platforms like Slack and ensure every employee knows how to get the most out of them. Mandate regular one on ones between employees and managers and hold company-wide and department-specific meetings on a regular basis. Greater alignment across your company can only lead to increased efficiency and productivity.

Hiring process and expectations. When a company is smaller (think less than 10 or 20), candidates often meet with everyone within the organization, or on the other extreme with the founders only, who will make a unilateral decision. There is a balance to this where the ultimate decision maker is clearly identified yet other key stakeholders weigh in with veto power. I suggest establishing a transparent step by step process and timeline for your team and the candidates: initial screenings, phone/video interviews, in-person interviews, internal panel for final decisions. It is very important not to rush hiring decisions as their impact - both positive and negative - will be felt long after they’ve come and gone. I’ve said this before, but any time you have to convince yourself that a candidate is worth hiring, they are probably not the right person. Before pulling the trigger on any hire, make sure you get that “hell yes” feeling that comes with any obvious decision.

Industry visibility and trendsetting. I’ve noticed that very few small publishers attend industry events and conferences, either because they are simply too busy to spend a day outside the office or find them cost prohibitive. Sometimes these events are a waste of time, but rarely do I find myself leaving without at least one piece of actionable inspiration. Even if it is an offhand comment from the person sitting next to you at breakfast, the ability to get ahead of trends and technologies before they are forced on you allows you to control the conversation and set them up the right way from the onset. I recommend talking to trusted colleagues and asking them which conferences are their favorites and picking one or two per year to attend. This can also be an effective retention and motivation tool, as learning and growth are often cited as important factors in how long employees stay with an employer. By covering the cost of travel and attendance, you are investing in them as employees and rewarding excellent work.

Obviously this is not a complete list, but this list of tactics that small and medium sized publishers can use to compete with the incumbents should get you thinking about what you can do today to position your company for its next phase of growth.

Why is my site so slow?

Many publishers refresh their browser one day and realize that their site feels excruciatingly slow. It certainly feels slower than it used to be, especially on a mobile device, which by the way now makes up the bulk of their traffic. There may be a decline, dismissed as insignificant, in user engagement as measured by time spent or pageviews per user. Revenue or CPMs may be threatened or reaching a ceiling.

There are many possible explanations for this, all of which will vary depending on who you talk to within the organization. The codebase may have degraded over time, they may have allowed too many heavy elements to each page, there may be some backend infrastructure issues, or they may have become reliant on too many “indirect” monetization vendors. More often than not, ad ops receives the blame and must propose solutions.

In these situations, an unbiased evaluation of all demand sources is necessary, which is often easier said than done. Many publishers have legacy relationships that have been in place for years, sweetheart deals with vendors that would be hard to reestablish, and tags that no one even knows are there. Unfortunately, aside from the financial impact of removing certain elements, there is often emotional baggage that can lead to finger pointing and irrational decisions. The best approach is to take an inventory of all the pixels, tags and other calls being made, identify each vendor and assign them all a value. With this information, smart decisions can be made on what to keep and what to eliminate. Vendors with the worst latency should be called out and challenged to perform at a higher level. They all claim to have “the best technology,” and this is the perfect time for them to prove it.

Other than vendors and demand sources, the publisher’s ad stack itself can cause problems, no matter how sophisticated. Are there ad calls being made that were once necessary but now irrelevant? Are there pixels live that were implemented years ago to close a deal that has long since concluded? Does the adserver architecture even make sense for the current design and sales strategy of the site? These are all questions to ask, especially going into a new year.

A great way to do this while removing internal bias and emotions is to find an independent expert that can evaluate your site, ad stack and vendor mix to make recommendations for improving site speed, user experience and ultimately yield. If you think this might apply to your organization, we would love to discuss how we can help.

Building a world-class ad ops team

Whether you are a huge company like the New York Times or Conde Nast or a smaller publisher with a distributed workforce, you want to work with the best. You want campaign managers and traffickers who are smart, detail-oriented, solution-minded and consistently go above and beyond the basic requirements in their job description. Hiring, developing and retaining ad operations talent is one of the most difficult things publishers can do. Here are some things to consider as you build your world-class team:


The saying “patience is a virtue” couldn’t be more applicable to conducting searches for ad ops talent. Ultimately you want to have the right people in the right roles (for you and for them) and you must often balance that with the fact that there is immediate work that must be done in order to move the business forward. A good rule of thumb is to use Derek Sivers’ rule for making any decision, which is “if it is not a HELL YES, its a no.” This means that if you are on the fence about any candidate, they are probably not the right one. This is especially true for smaller teams as they will have a larger and more direct impact on your business.

Conducting an ad ops search can often become a full time job. Depending on the breadth of your search and the number of candidates you choose to screen and interview, it can take weeks of dedicated time over the course of months. This why recruiters exist and why “media-focused” recruiters proliferate. I believe that most hires still happen via personal networks, but recruiters can add value to a particularly urgent or specific search. My advice on this stage is to be all in or all out, nothing in between. In order to move things forward quickly and successfully, you need to be fully invested and committed to finding the ideal candidate and have a clear interview and selection process.


Once you've found the perfect candidate or candidates, you must ensure they operate effectively and efficiently. They must learn the specific nuances and processes of your business. They must become experts at understanding your products and delivering value to your customers. They must keep up with a rapidly changing landscape without neglecting their day-to-day responsibilities. This requires investment in both time and capital.

Develop an official, thoughtful, documented onboarding process. Give new employees time to acclimate and get comfortable before throwing them into the deep end. Foster a culture of collaboration and internal knowledge-sharing. Encourage your team to participate in industry conferences and events. If you’re lucky enough to have a team in New York, SanFrancisco, or another media hub, there are often free local meetups where people discuss the particulars of topics that only they would understand or appreciate. 


Outside of finding and hiring capable ad ops candidates, retention and motivation tends to be the most difficult aspect of any ad operations manager's job. Between a relentless pace, constant technical challenges and scarcity of qualified talent, it can be extremely difficult to prevent a rockstar campaign manager from seeking out the next opportunity. Obviously you should provide things like generous compensation, flexible work schedules and other perks, but two things that consistently surface as reasons for staying at a job are a feeling of contribution to the company’s larger mission and trusting/respecting one’s boss.

People in support roles want to feel appreciated and like their work is important to the strategic mission and growth of the company. Make sure they understand that by doing their job flawlessly, not only are you able to bill campaigns in full and collect all contracted revenue, but that advertisers (and especially agencies) want to work with publishers that make their lives easier. This leads to recurring revenue and growth which funds investment and ultimately leads to a more profitable business.

Ensure that the manager of the ad ops team, whether thats you or someone else, is equipped to be successful. Make sure they understand and actively practice the fundamentals of being a good manager, that they take the time to get to know everyone on their team and set up a clear growth path with objectives and milestones, that they meet regularly in one on ones and as a team to discuss best practices and recognize exceptional work. They should provide clear feedback in real-time, both positive and negative (or constructive).

The above will not cover every myriad of challenges you will undoubtedly face as a publisher, but it does provide a blueprint for building and maintaining a high-performing team. It takes time and effort but the end result is worth it. For guidance, gut-checks and tactical execution resources that give you breathing room to methodically grow your team, we are always on standby.


Should you outsource your ad operations?

Every publisher wants to control their own destiny. With social platforms dominating the audience game and a deluge of 3rd party middlemen required for monetization, it can feel like you are being tossed about in the waves of these external forces. Your own team is something you do have control over. You want people who are experts at what they do. You want people who will be available when you need them. You want people who are as invested in the success of the business as you are. Unfortunately, finding candidates with those attributes is often easier said than done. Then, once you’ve found someone who is truly talented and engaged, the difficulty shifts to retaining and motivating them.

Outsourcing your ad operations and monetization capabilities gives you access to these critical capabilities without the accompanying HR challenges.

These are 7 reasons to outsource your ad operations:

  1. Outsourcing your ad ops is almost always cheaper than hiring full time staff. When you factor in the cost of recruiting, onboarding, training and benefits it often makes sense to allow a trusted vendor to handle many of your operational functions.
  2. You will have the leisure of taking more time to make smarter hires. This is one of the most critical decisions any company can make and has a tremendous impact on the existing team. By ensuring that you are not forced to make hasty decisions, you increase the probability of finding the perfect match.
  3. You can access greater levels of talent and experience for far less than you would if you were to make a full time hire. Good operators are in high-demand. Those with relevant experience and deep industry connections even more so. This means they cost more and have more opportunities available to them, making recruiting and retention difficult.
  4. Outsourcing accommodates ebbs and flows in workloads and activity. You won’t have staff completely overloaded one week and looking for something to do the next week.
  5. You have access to a much broader set of contacts and experiences across vendors and technologies. Many traffickers and campaign managers have worked with the leading companies in the media space, but being immersed in their daily workload makes it difficult to stay current on a rapidly-changing landscape. A 3rd party that works with many publishers has the advantage of managing complex existing solutions, fielding inbound requests from new vendors, and maintaining relationships to keep abreast of the latest trends.
  6. It allows your existing team to get back to their day jobs, or work on more strategic projects. Publishers often have a product or engineering resource working on their adserver, or an account manager pulling reports and devising optimization plans. These are things that detract and distract them from adding the maximum amount of value.
  7. If you outsource to a group that takes the time to understand your business and build a strong relationship with you and your team, they will be deeply invested in your success. It may seem like common sense that a full-time employee would be more engaged and invested in a publisher’s growth and success, but having been on both sides of the table I have seen that ad ops teams are often simply looking for their next opportunity rather than building a long-term career by pushing the boundaries of whats possible for your site.

Hopefully, this gives you some insights as you decide how to scale your media business and whether or not to outsource your ad operations.