Ad operations (or “ad ops”) teams optimize and manage online advertisements with special software and workflows. Nearly every company that uses online ads should have a specialized department or team—whether in-house or outsourced—that performs ad ops duties. In this article, we’ll look at what ad ops teams do, how they do it, and why it matters for each and every company making use of online advertising. 

If you’re new to ad tech terminology, take a look at Google’s glossary of advertising-related technology terms.

What’s The Goal?

The overarching goal of ad ops is to improve the performance of online advertising campaigns. Ad ops teams start by fulfilling orders to purchase ads. Based on demographics and other key information they know about their target audience segment, the ad ops team purchases advertisements using a combination of automated and manual systems. This may involve ad bidding on an ad exchange, an automated process that can occur in a tenth of a second. 

Ad ops teams work on both sides of the fence—both sellers and buyers make use of the services offered by ad ops departments and companies. 

The goal of the ops team is to improve the client’s return on investment. Ad ops software can try out ad slots automatically to determine which placements in the webpage or mobile app result in the highest number of conversions. Through advanced analytics and tracking data, ad ops teams learn more about how the audience views and interacts with advertisements. 

Throughout the process, the ad ops team manages servers and other IT infrastructure that runs the ad campaign. Modern advertising involves a lot of complex technology and programmatic automation, so this aspect of advertising operations makes a huge difference. Ad ops professionals troubleshoot a variety of issues that can come up during the advertising process, including problems with third-party ad exchanges and issues where ads slow down page loading times. Ad servers, ad exchanges, ad networks, SSPs, and DMPs are all technologies that ad ops teams know well. 

Why Does Ad Ops Matter?

Before digital advertising became the primary way to display advertisements, the advertising process was much slower-paced. Advertisers would make phone calls to purchase ad slots from newspapers and television stations. These days, individual online ad slots are bought and sold in fractions of a second. 

Given the fast-paced nature of modern advertising, specialized teams with sophisticated software and processes are necessary to achieve good return on investment for advertisers today. 

What’s Next?

Depending on the size of your company, it may make sense to outsource ad ops or build an internal team. Smaller brands may be able to get away with self-serve platforms, although ad agencies with ad ops teams will likely have the necessary expertise to make the most of your ad campaigns. Choosing an experienced advertising operations partner can make a world of difference in the return on investment for your ads and the efficiency of your operations.

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