Ad Ops 101

Top 8 Reasons to Work in Ad Operations

Even as the global economy limps along, the job market in digital advertising and Ad Operations specifically has never looked so bright, and anyone looking for their first job would do well to consider ad technology as a place to start their professional lives.

So why exactly would you want to work in Ad Ops?  Here are some of the best reasons as I see them:

1. There’s no better place to learn about digital advertising than ad operations.

Because the Ad Ops department controls and operates the ad server as their primary responsibility, almost everyone else in the company depends on them for something.  Whether it’s the marketing team trying to get an internal promotion live, the finance or billing group needing accurate historical reports, the business development team trying to evaluate and implement a new technology, or just the day to day interaction with the Sales team to understand what clients want, Ad Ops is an information hub within the company, and a key resource for getting things done. What are the other top reasons to work in Ad Ops?

AdOps Guide – Pulling 3rd Party Ad Server Reports with Daily Breakouts

Pulling 3rd Party reports is one of the key reporting needs of any publisher ad operations group, unfortunately the publisher-facing reporting interface of most 3rd party ad servers isn’t terribly intuitive.  It can be particularly difficult to extract the daily breakout, which is key to troubleshoot discrepancy or implementation issues, and usually a required attachment to any official ticket to the ad server support team.

Often times, without being able to look at a daily breakout, it is difficult to understand if a large variance in delivery between a publisher’s ad server and an advertiser’s ad server has been a problem from the very start of the campaign, or perhaps only at a certain date when new creative was added, or perhaps when the publisher added a site release.

Therefore, I’ve created a guide below on how to build a report in the major 3rd party ad servers that provide a daily breakout of delivery.

This post covers how to pull a report showing delivery by day from the following 3rd party ad servers: DART for Publishers, Atlas DMT, Pointroll, Eyeblaster / MediaMind, Mediaplex, and Eyewonder.  I will update with others as I am able and if this post turns out to be helpful.


Go to ‘Report Central

Select ‘Queries’

Under ‘Create New Queries’ select ‘Single Advertiser’

Select an Advertiser

Under ‘Main Criteria’ select ‘Daily’ in the ‘Breakdown’ section.

Under ‘Main Criteria’ add ‘Date’ as a selected field, along with any other fields you require, such as Advertiser / Placement / Campaign Name / etc.

Run the report

Creating a daily breakout in the DART Publisher interface

In Atlas –

Note: Atlas’s UI only functions in Internet Explorer.

Things are a bit easier in the Atlas UI – there is a canned report that will likely suffice.

Select ‘Publisher Reports’

Select ‘Publisher Daily Summary Without Subtotals’. Be sure to select this report and not the one above it labeled ‘Publisher Daily Summary’, which exports the data in a format that is difficult to manipulate any further in excel.

Run the report

Creating a daily breakout report in the Atlas Publisher Interface

In Pointroll –

Select ‘Analyze’

Select ‘Reports’

Select ‘New’

Select ‘User Defined’

Select your time frame and relevant metrics

Under ‘Aggregations’, move ‘Daily’ into the ‘Selected Aggregations‘ column, along with any other items you require

Select ‘Run‘ and On the ‘Run Report Options’ pop-up, select ‘Flat Data’ if you plan to manipulate the data in Excel with a pivot table, etc.

Creating a daily breakout in the Pointroll Publisher Interface

In Eyeblaster / MediaMind –

Note: Daily breakouts are only available in MediaMind on a campaign-specific basis, and only 45 days at a time.

Select ‘Analytics’

Select ‘Delivery Analysis’ from the ‘Analytics Reports’ section

Under ‘Data Resolution’ select ‘Days’

Run the report

Creating a daily breakout report in the Eyeblaster / MediaMind Publisher Interface

In MediaPlex –

About as easy as it comes, since there is only one report available to publishers.

Select ‘Reports’

Select ‘Site Delivery’

Under ‘Time’, select ‘date’

Run the reportCreating a daily report in Mediaplex MOJO Adserver

In Eyewonder –

Eyewonder’s reporting system looks complex, but really isn’t that difficult to use.

Select ‘Custom’

Under ‘Reporting Criteria’ select ‘Impressions’

Under ‘Breakdown Criteria’ select ‘By Date Range’, and then select ‘Breakdown by Day’ from the drop-down menu

Run the report

Creating a daily breakout in Eyewonder's Publisher Reporting Interface


Dynamic Creative Optimization – Where Online Data Meets Advertising Creative

Dynamic Creative Optimization Basics

Dynamic creative optimization is a relatively new technology to the online advertising space, but it is sure to see tremendous growth this year.  Why?  Because dynamic creative optimization allows marketers to put the right message in front of the right consumer.  It allows them to differentiate and custom-tailor ad creative to people using data, and it is extremely effective at increasing a campaign’s performance, almost to the point of suspicion.  Many case studies show an increase to CTR well above 100% vs. non-personalized creative, and decreases in cost metrics of 60 – 70%.  Combine these two metrics and the impact to ROI is usually eye-popping.

As we’ve written before, thanks to data marketplaces and real-time bidding through ad exchanges, marketers now have very powerful tools to reach a very precise audience on the web thanks to an explosion in consumer data.  Literally hundreds of companies are in the business of qualifying people into anonymous buying segments and reselling that intent data to marketers, who then use it to target those users with ads across the web.  So technology has allowed marketers to reach the right person at the right time with fairly impressive scale and pricing efficiency.  Powerful stuff to be sure, but what about the right message?  For example, if you knew about a single, 25 year old male in California who was in the market to buy a car, the last thing you want to show him is an ad for a minivan that performs well in the snow.  He’s probably much more interested in a hybrid car that can store a surfboard on its roof.  That’s a comically extreme example, but the point is that regardless of the targeting, marketers still need compelling creative. And dynamic creative optimization is where data meets the creative message.  It’s difficult to understate how exciting this technology is – placing the right ad in front of the right person and the right time is practically a holy grail for marketers and it looks as though the online advertising industry has figured out how to do it, or at least invented the tools to do it. (more…)

How Real Time Bidding, DSPs, SSPs, and Ad Exchanges Work

Let’s say you’re online one day and decide to do a little shoe shopping. You navigate to your favorite store, check out a pair of boots, add something to your cart and just as you’re about to checkout, the phone rings and you get distracted.  By the time you’re done talking to your friend, it’s late and you decide to buy the shoes later.

Then, the next day, you check to see who won the big game last night and you notice an ad from the shoe store you were on last night.  Not only is it an ad for the store, but the exact pair of boots you were looking at are in the ad!  Weird.  You decide to check your email and see that your mom sent you a link to a news article. You go to read the article and staring you in the face on the page is another ad for the same pair of boots, this time tempting you with a 10% discount!

How did the ads know you were shopping for shoes last night, and how did they wind up on all those different sites?  The answer is, probably through an ad exchange.

Ad Exchanges have been around for a few years, but have exploded in importance in the last year.  Along with Demand Side Platforms (DSPs) and Supply Side Platforms (SSPs), Ad Exchanges are dramatically changing the way digital media is bought and sold. If you are a digital marketer or publisher, it is a very exciting time to be working in the industry.

What makes these companies so innovative is how they allow buyers and sellers to value inventory on an impression by impression basis and in real-time.  That’s right, real time.  That means that when you clicked on your mom’s link to the news article and your browser requested an ad from the news site, the publisher put that ad up for auction on an exchange, marketers bid on that impression, and it was served to your browser in about 250 milliseconds, so fast it was indistinguishable from the time it took any other image on the page to render.  Welcome to the world of real-time bidding, or RTB, where marketers value each impression as it is created and the Ad Exchange is where it all happens.

From a technical perspective though, how does the ad exchange process differ from regular ol’ third-party adserving?  I’ll answer that question and diagram the process in my next post, similar to what I showed you in my diagram for how third-party ad serving works.

How Does Ad Serving Work?

Interactive ads are everywhere these days, but when it comes to the technical process of getting an ad on the page and how publishers and marketers verify it delivered, not many people outside ad operations can explain what actually happens in detail.  Read this article though and you’ll be one of them!  Below I’ve detailed step-by-step how a browser gets from the initial call to a publisher’s website to the final ad creative, and when and how each party counts an impression.  You can view a diagram of the ad serving process at the bottom of this post – the numbers in the text refer to the steps labeled in the diagram.

So, without further ado – (more…)