revenue management

At Risk Management – How Every Ad Ops Department Should Start Their Day

Digital media is notoriously difficult to manage – not only are there technical and administrative challenges with getting a campaign live, but as the inventory is so perishable, campaign delivery can be tricky.

Underdelivery Despite Capacity

It’s no secret most publishers on the internet have plenty of inventory on a site wide basis, but often struggle with meeting campaign goals as they add targeting restrictions, frequency caps, competitive separation requirements, or have to deliver to a specific geographic area.  Not only that, but in many cases publishers and advertisers have a need to actively track delivery trends to ensure campaigns deliver as expected, and meet their goal within the scheduled timeframe.  Ad servers generally fill this role when capacity isn’t a problem, but when there isn’t enough supply to satisfy the demand, it falls on Ad Operations to prioritize delivery, and optimize problem areas.

But when there are hundreds or thousands of campaigns running at a given time, all with different goals, targeting requirements, and flight dates, how can anyone make sense of the data?  Many publishers have an inadequate process, relying on billing of financial reports to surface problems, or pawn the delivery management onto the sales team, which rarely has the expertise to effectively address the problem.

A far better solution is to build a simple report, a dashboard really, and use it as front line tools to catch problems early, before they spiral on for days.  This report is typically known as an At Risk Report and in many cases can not only save revenue, but time, frustration, and significantly cut down on the finger pointing that Ad Ops groups often face.

Building an Effective At Risk Management Report

The At Risk Management Report is the most critical day-to-day report for most sophisticated publisher-facing delivery management groups.  The primary job of this report is to create a ‘delivery dashboard’ of sorts to catch all campaigns that are not delivering to their expected quota, allowing Ad Ops to flag issues early, and optimize as necessary.  Some ad servers, such as DFP, offer this type of report, pre-built, with many of the necessary pieces of data, but if yours does not, it is usually simple work to get create the report yourself. In either case, I recommend simply getting the raw data and moving it into Excel, where you can apply your own custom filters and calculations using Pivot Tables.

The first step in creating an At Risk report is to pull the right data.  At minimum you’ll need advertiser / order / flight or campaign / start date / end date / targeting requirements / priority / ad size / flight or campaign status, as well as delivery information to date and the flight or campaign goal. In addition to those pieces of information though, consider adding other fields like sales rep, trafficker, site, or paid rate (be it CPM, CPC, CPA, or something else) to help route issues to the right contacts later. (more…)