In-house vs Outsourced Ad Ops – What Should You Go With?

Updated on: January 3, 2024
As a publisher, you might be wondering whether to outsource ad operations or keep it in-house. Well, it depends. Let us help you make an informed decision.

The need for an in-house or outsourced adops team can differ from one publisher to another. And, yes, there are several factors that affect your decision of choosing an in-house or an outsourced team. But you can use some questions to make an informed decision. Let’s get started. 

Sidenote: In here, we are referring to “outsourced ad ops” as the team that only manages ad operations for you, the publisher. They don’t bring any technology/partnerships to your side — just the experienced team to help you handle the day-to-day operations work. Note that outsourced ad ops providers are different from managed service providers (like us). We’ll get into the nuances later in this post. 

How often do you run direct deals?

If you are dealing with direct deals most of the time, then you should consider managing your ad ops by yourself. Direct deals don’t depend upon the size of your site. A small niche publisher may be signing more direct deals than a mid-size publisher. Direct deals depend more upon the nature of your site.

If you rarely run direct deals then it is better to outsource the ad operations for it. For instance, we provide header bidding solutions to our publishers but if they have a direct campaign to run, then we help them. In this way, they are able to handle the direct demand without outsourcing it to any additional agency and without an in-house team.

But if direct demand is your main source of income then it is better to have an in-house team. 

Can you commit to the expenses?

Hiring people brings expenses. The expense with full-time employees will also be regular, you’ve to incur it every month. Therefore you’ve to think with a long-term perspective and decide whether hiring people for ad operations makes sense economically.

If your revenue isn’t stable, or if your traffic is seasonal then you can choose to hire part-time freelancers for the peak season. If your revenue is stable but you cannot afford to hire a full-time employee then you can choose to outsource the work to a partner. 

If you’ve plenty of revenue and can easily afford to have regular employees working on ad operations, then you can build your in-house team. Just make sure that you are hiring the experts that have a good experience of managing ad operations and increasing the publishers’ revenue.

Do you need a managed service?

There is a difference between outsourcing and managed services but most people think of them as the same. Managed services not only perform your ad operations but they also bring their own technology to the table. A managed service provider like us will provide you header bidding solutions, premium demand sources, and programmatic monetization products like Active Exposure Time and Reflex Ads

On the other hand, an adops outsourcing firm will only help you with the day to day ad operations. You cannot expect them to come up with new ad products or solutions.

If you are a small to mid-sized publisher working with the traditional waterfall setup without an adops team then you should choose a managed service provider. The managed service provider won’t only handle your ad operation but it’ll also bring you the premium demand that your site is in need of. Alternatively, you can have a single adops expert in-house to monitor the overall ad operations and delegate the majority of the work to the managed service provider.  

Large publishers, on the other hand, can choose to have a dedicated adops team in-house.

How many partners do you work with?

Small scale publishers generally work with fewer demand partners. When your website is not integrated with too many partners, you don’t have much work related to inventory management, vendor management, or any other technical operations. Resources hired at this stage can remain underutilized, as a result, your expenditure on the resources will be more than what is required. 

Therefore, while working with a few demand partners, it is better not to have an in-house or a dedicated outsourced adops team. It is better to ask your existing demand partners whether they manage adops for their publishers. If they do, ask for the charges, the rates can be lower for you as you are their existing client.

If you are working with so many partners that there is always a need to manage campaigns, report to advertisers, schedule ads, etc, then it is better to have an in-house team.

What is your traffic pattern?

If you are running a geo-specific website then the chances are that your traffic will be cyclical. The traffic will be higher during the day and the least during the nights. If things go wrong during the day (suppose ad delivery stops) then they can cause much more loss whereas if the same problem occurs in the middle of the night then the losses can be minimal. Whereas if your traffic is global then no matter when the glitches occur, they’ll have the equal potential of losses.

In the case of a geo-specific site, you can hire a small in-house team that can manage your site during peak hours. But if you cannot let your ad operations unattended because you’ve high traffic throughout the day, or more traffic during the night then you need a 24×7 Ad Operations support team. In this case, it is better to outsource adops because the outsourcing agencies have all the necessary arrangements to take care of your ad operations throughout the day.

Can you find the talent?

The difficulty with building an in-house team needs you to find the right people, with the right experience at your own place. But the place isn’t a constraint when you are starting a website. In fact, it is more profitable to run your publishing company from non-metropolitan cities as it can save you a ton of money due to the economic cost of living. So if you are operating from a small town you’ve to find experienced ad ops professionals within your town or you’ve to find the people who are ready to move to your town. The level of difficulty in finding both these kinds of people depends on the location you are working from.

So if you belong to a place where it isn’t easy to find the right talent then outsourcing your ad operations is the best move. But if you belong to a place where there are tones of ad ops people then you can experiment with building an in-house team.

Do you need access to AdX?

This question may sound irrelevant but trust us, it isn’t. Google AdX has the best demand sources in the industry. We have observed that even with header bidding in place, Google AdX wins the majority of the auctions. If you don’t have it as your demand sources, then you are missing the opportunity to earn more from a major part of the inventory.

Google AdX also helps you in finding preferred deals. The preferred deal is an additional channel for sourcing direct demand for your inventory. You can send the proposals to the buyers and sign deals with them. After signing the deal, the preferred buyer gets the chance to buy the inventory before it is made available in the open auction. You can charge higher rates for the preferential treatment.

Even if you’ve found a deal outside of Google AdX, chances are that they would want to execute the deal through AdX (because that’s what they’ve been always doing). In cases like these, you need to have access to AdX.

But you must be aware of the fact that getting access to AdX isn’t that easy. It allows only premium publishers with traffic in hundreds of millions. But this doesn’t mean that small or mid-sized publishers cannot run preferred campaigns. Instead of losing the deals, publishers use the AdX access of their managed service providers. We frequently help our publishers in routing their demands through our AdX access.

If you are a publisher with direct access to AdX then this shouldn’t be a point to think about.

In a nutshell:

Benefits of in-house Ad Operations team

  • Helpful when you’ve lots of direct deals running on your site.
  • Helpful when you are working with a lot of demand partners.

Difficulties with an in-house Ad Operations team

  • It can prove to be expensive for small-scale publishers.
  • Finding the right talent can be difficult sometimes.
  • Publishers have to commit to the regular expense.
  • It doesn’t bring tech solutions like header bidding to the table. You have to develop them yourself. 

Benefits of outsourced Ad Operations team

  • It can be cost-effective when compared to an in-house team.
  • You don’t need to find the talent.
  • You pay only until you need the services, contracts are also short term.
  • Brings tech solutions along with it.
  • It can provide you with access to AdX.
  • Unlike regular employees, an adops agency earns more when you make more money (in a rev-share model). So there is a motivational factor attached to work better.
  • The whole team has experience of working with other publishers as well.

Difficulties with an outsourced Ad Operations team

  • Communication is not as direct as it can be with an in-house team.
  • You may still need an adops expert in-house to coordinate the outsourced team.

What’s Next?

After mulling over the above-mentioned questions, if you’ve decided to build an in-house adops team then it is time to start looking for the experienced candidates. If you’ve decided to outsource the services, first make sure whether you are looking for managed services? Depending on your needs, you should research the services that the agencies are providing. On the basis of your analysis, you should choose the agency accordingly. You can also contact us, as we have the experience of managing the demand for hundreds of publishers.

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