Ad Operations is an integral part of a media business but managing ad operations (ad ops) and publishing are two different jobs. While ad operations can require technical know-how and continuous data analysis, publishing demands creative skills. It’s not about what you need, it’s about what you need more for excelling at a particular job. Apparently, it becomes hard for the publishers to watch over both the activities at the same time. Especially, if you are running your business with a skeletal crew. To solve this problem, many publishers (small or big) resort to outsourcing the ad operation process.
If you are also thinking about the same then, let us help you.
Signs that You Need an Ad Ops Outsourcing Company
It is normal for a publisher to be confused while making ad ops related decisions, after all, it is not necessary that all publishers are tech people. When you are growing from a small to a bigger publisher, then you might be doubtful about having an ad ops team. When you are sure that you need a team, then you might be doubtful about whether to have it in-house or outsourced. Moments of doubt are natural, and therefore here are some signs which you should look for whenever you are doubtful about outsourcing ad operations.
Your revenue is lower than the industry average:
When your ad revenue is lower than what other publishers are making in the same niche with the same traffic (look at the estimates here), then it might be happening due to improper handling of ad operations. You should try an outsourced ad ops team and see if it can bring your revenue up, especially when you are handling the ad ops on your own.
You don’t have time for hiring:
When you are a growing publisher with no dedicated ad ops team, then hiring people and building a team from scratch can be a time-consuming task. If you are on a stage where there is an immediate need for a team, then the time you spent in hiring can make you miss the opportunity of higher revenue. Whereas an expert AdOps company will get you up and running immediately.
You are not an AdOps expert:
When you have always been busy with building your audience and never tried anything in Ad Ops then you will have a huge learning curve staring at you while you are planning to do it yourself. Even while recruiting someone for the job, it would be difficult for you to gauge whether you are hiring the right person or not. In such a case, it makes sense to outsource the ad operations for your website.
You like to do what you are good at:
Your company might be a publishing company at its core and you may not want to divert your attention away from it. There is nothing wrong in thinking this way, growing a business requires a lot of focus. If you are someone who does not want to be distracted from the goal, then outsourcing what does not directly align with your core values is the right decision.
Advancing towards better technologies:
The publishing industry is full of technologies available to earn ad revenue. After growing to a certain point, Adsense does not remain the best monetization solution and it becomes necessary to graduate to advanced tech solutions. But it isn’t simple to implement higher-yielding solutions like header bidding, intelligent ad refresh, Private Marketplaces, etc.
The right talent is not available:
You can face problems in finding the right talent for an in-house ad ops team when you are operating your publishing business from a non-metropolitan area. Not only ad ops but small towns always have a scarcity of the right people for most of the jobs. But if you are a solopreneur or someone who manages a remote working company from an inexpensive place then chances are that you are already outsourcing many of your tasks. In such a case, outsourcing ad ops will probably work.
When you cannot keep up with the Ad Tech industry:
The ad tech industry is very dynamic. Sometimes it is even difficult for the ad tech players to keep up with the ever-changing industry. GDPR, CCPA, ITP, Sellers.json, Ads.txt and the list goes on. There is something new happening all the time. When you are someone who does not want to get overwhelmed by taking care of so many things, then you should definitely outsource your ad operations.
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When you need 24×7 support:
While your company might have fixed opening and closing hours, your website is always accessible to the users. There will always be traffic on your website and the ads will run all the time. When your traffic is in millions, things can go wrong at any hour of the day or night and you need to have support for such problems. When it is difficult for you to set up such a support system then it is better to outsource an ad ops team.
As we mentioned before, it isn’t a straightforward process to set up and run programmatic monetization solutions. At first glance, it may look simple. But it requires technical expertise to implement solutions optimally and you need to establish partnerships with demand partners as well. Without the right demand, even the best solution can’t get you the expected revenue/eCPM. If you see any room for improvement, then it’s time to improve it.
Choosing the Best Ad Ops Partner
If you are not very familiar with how things work in ad ops, then you run the risk of partnering with the wrong people for the job. Here are some tips to help you with finding the best ad ops outsourcing company:
Look at the payment method:
Most of the ad ops companies will follow the revenue share model, but it doesn’t mean that the fixed price model doesn’t exist. If you are sealing the deal with revenue sharing, then look at the percentage of revenue the company is asking for. Making more profit is also one of the reasons for outsourcing the ad operations, so your profit should not decrease. For instance, if you want to implement header bidding with a third-party, rev-share will be around 15 to 20 percent.
Apply the same logic while making a fixed price deal. Calculate the cost of hiring an in-house team and then compare it to the fees that the outsourcing company is asking for. And don’t forget that you can negotiate fixed-price deals too.
Consider the expertise:
You become a successful publisher when you have the expertise of creating high-quality content. Similarly, the company which you are hiring should have expertise in its field. When two strong forces unite, they create a stronger entity but it won’t happen if one of them is weaker. Therefore, while outsourcing to an ad operation service, consider its expertise. Find every piece of information to validate that you are hiring the right people. Observe the company’s website and find out how it is different from others, read the reviews, ask other publishers in your connections and then decide whether you should go forward or not.
Do a test run:
Explore the options of testing the company before committing for a long term partnership. In the beginning, you can sign a smaller deal for the test. Publishers can allot a single ad unit, a single page or a finite number of impressions to the ad ops partner to see how the company is performing. Once you are satisfied you can sign a bigger deal.
Be rational while evaluating the performance, for example, if you have given a BTF ad unit to the outsourcing company for the test and then you compare its performance with an ATF ad unit, then the test unit will always look like it is underperforming. Therefore make sure you are comparing apple to apple while performance evaluation.
Clarify about lock-in periods:
Some outsourcing companies may have lock-in periods. Once you have signed an agreement with a lock-in period you are legally bound to work with the partner for the specified period. It can be a problem for you if you are not in a condition to make such a commitment. Therefore clarify lock-ins beforehand and enter the deal only when you can afford it.
Talk about the products and services:
You should be buying what you want to buy. An ad operation company might be offering a lot of products and services but it doesn’t mean that you need to take all of them. It might be offering a brand new ad server (from a third party), but you might be happy with Google Ad Manager. Or it might be providing demand solutions (by partnering with demand sources) but you might be having your own team to take care of it.
Check the availability of the support team:
The freedom of location provided by the internet has made it possible for us to work from any part of the world. The same is the case with ad operations. It can be managed from anywhere. Therefore it is not necessary for a publisher to work only with a company that operates from a nearby location. You have the whole world to choose from. Find out the company which is best suited for you in terms of support and services.
We believe that publishers should not squander their energy on operational tasks. The focus should be on building the audience and increasing traffic on the website. If a publisher loses focus on the core business, it can slow down the growth of the business. Therefore, it is better to outsource ad operations and pay attention to the content.