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A Comprehensive Guide to Working in Advertising Operations

As digital marketing becomes more complex, the need for skilled advertising operations professionals continues to grow. Advertising operations is a critical function within any company that relies on digital media for marketing and sales. This field encompasses a wide range of activities, from trafficking ads to measuring their performance and optimizing them over time. If you want to work in advertising operations or want to know what it entails, this guide is for you. We’ll cover the basics of advertising operations, including terminology and best practices, and introduce you to some popular tools and resources used by ad ops teams.

Ad operations 101

Advertising operations, or ad ops for short, is a critical function within any company that relies on digital media for marketing and sales. This field encompasses a wide range of activities, from trafficking ads to website optimization and measuring performance. Whether you’re an experienced professional looking for a new challenge or just starting out in the world of digital marketing, ad operations offers many exciting opportunities.

At its core, advertising operations is all about managing the flow of advertisements across different platforms and channels. This involves ensuring that ads are properly targeted to the right audience at the right time and that they are displayed correctly on websites or mobile apps. In addition, many companies also rely on their ad ops teams to optimize their ad campaigns over time by adjusting campaign settings, budgets, and delivery schedules.

A look back at the history of advertising operations

The field of advertising operations emerged in the early 2000s as digital media became increasingly important for marketing and sales. Prior to that, most ad campaigns were managed manually through spreadsheets and email. Today, ad ops teams are typically comprised of skilled professionals with backgrounds in online marketing, web development, data analysis, and project management.

As the role of ad operations has evolved, so too have the tools and resources at their disposal. Some of the more popular software platforms used by today’s ad ops teams include Google Ad Manager (formerly DoubleClick for Publishers), Marin One Platform, Nanigans Retargeting Suite, Optimizely Web Experimentation Platform, Kissmetrics Analytics Engine, and Kochava Mobile Engagement Platform. We’ll dive into these some more below!

A glossary of ad operations terminology

As you’ll soon discover, the world of advertising operations is full of unique terminology and jargon. Here are just a few key terms to get you started:

Trafficking: The process of uploading advertisements to various digital ad networks and platforms.

RFP: Request for proposal. A document that advertisers use when seeking out potential vendors to handle their online marketing campaigns.

User acquisition: The process of acquiring new users through paid ads.

ROAS: Return on ad spend. A metric used to measure the effectiveness of advertising campaigns by comparing revenue generated with advertising costs incurred.

A/B testing: Also known as split testing or bucket testing. An experimental approach to web design in which two or more variations of a web page or ad are compared using live traffic.

In-app advertising: Advertising that appears within mobile apps rather than as banner ads on websites or search engine results pages.

CPM: Cost per mile (mille = thousand in Latin). A pricing model used to charge advertisers based on the number of times their ad is displayed to users, usually, 1,000 impressions per dollar spent.

TPV: Transactions per visitor. A metric used to measure the effectiveness of online transactions by comparing total number of transactions with average website visitor volume over a given period of time.

Conversion rate optimization: The practice of optimizing ad campaigns and webpages so they convert more visitors into customers, subscribers, registered users, etc.

KPI: Key performance indicator. A metric used to measure the success of advertising campaigns by comparing key metrics such as click-through rates, conversion rates, and total revenue generated against set targets or benchmarks.

Dynamic creative optimization: The practice of creating multiple variations of an ad in real-time based on data such as geolocation, weather conditions, past user behavior, etc. Also known as “creative testing.”

Demand Side Platform (DSP): A platform used by advertisers to manage and optimize their ad campaigns across multiple channels, including search engines, social media platforms, and websites.

Supply Side Platform (SSP): A platform used by publishers to manage and optimize their inventory of ad space across multiple channels.

Remarketing: A tactic that uses ads to target online users who have previously visited a website or performed a certain action (e.g., clicked on a link). Remarketing is often used in conjunction with other digital marketing strategies such as SEO, social media marketing, and email marketing.

Ad quality score: Also known as ad rank or quality score. A measurement of how well an advertisement performs based on a number of factors, including click-through rate, conversion rate, and traffic source. The higher an ad quality score is, the lower its cost per click will be, and vice versa.

SEO: Search engine optimization. The practice of optimizing webpages to rank higher in organic search engine results for target keywords.

PPC: Pay-per-click advertising. A type of online advertising in which advertisers pay for each time their ads are clicked by users rather than paying a flat fee for each ad impression (i.e., display). PPC is one component of SEM (search engine marketing).

Tips for success in advertising operations

The advertising industry is booming, and if you’re looking to get your foot in the door, here are a few key things that will help set you apart from the competition.

  1. Stay up to date on the latest trends and best practices in advertising operations. This means reading blogs, participating in online forums, attending webinars and conferences, etc.
  2. Be proactive about taking on new challenges and solving problems within your team or organization. Remember that a big part of any job in advertising operations is working with different teams to ensure that ad campaigns are consistently performing well and generating maximum ROI for the company.
  3. Cultivate strong technical skills by learning how to manage digital ads using popular platforms such as Google AdWords, Facebook Ads Manager, and DoubleClick Bid Manager. It’s also important to know how to use tools such as A/B testing software, remarketing platforms, and other analytics tools so you can optimize your ad campaigns for maximum performance.
  4. Build strong relationships with the marketing teams you work with and other stakeholders such as sales reps, data analysts, and software developers. Strong relationships are essential to a successful career in advertising operations since collaboration is a key part of any effective ad campaign.
  5. Stay organized and be detail-oriented when managing multiple ad campaigns at once. This requires being able to prioritize tasks, manage competing deadlines effectively, and communicate clearly with team members across various departments.

Popular ad ops tools and resources

If you’re looking to dive into the world of advertising operations, these are some of the most popular platforms and tools that ad ops teams use on a daily basis.

One of the most widely used ad trafficking platforms is claravine, which is specifically designed to streamline the ad operations process and help teams manage, optimize, and analyze their online ads.

Other popular tools for managing digital ads include Google Ads (formerly AdWords), Facebook Ads Manager, Display & Video 360 (formerly DoubleClick Bid Manager), Marin Software, and Moat Analytics.

These platforms have different features and pricing models that make them well-suited for certain types of advertising campaigns. For example, if you’re working on a campaign using automated bidding techniques such as programmatic or real-time bidding (RTB), you’ll likely need access to one of the more advanced bid optimization platforms, like moat analytics.

By staying up-to-date on these platforms and tools, you’ll be well-positioned to succeed as an ad ops pro!

Want to know more about a career path in ad ops? Check out our Women in Advertising Operations: Careers, Responsibilities, and Technical Skills guide!


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