AdMonsters reporting back from IAB Ad Ops Summit 2008

In our last update we provided some highlights from Bowen’s talk at DPAC II early last week about the need for renewed and increased focus on operational excellence in online ad operations.

Later in the week we attended the fourth annual IAB Ad Operations Summit, held October 30, 2008, at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York. It was impressive to see how much the Summit has grown since its inception in 2005. It was a full house of ad ops folks from across the industry, and the number and seniority of the attendees reflects how far ad operations has come as a practice since its inception in the mid-nineties.

This year’s Summit was infused with concerns about the impact of the economic “downturn” on online advertising, balanced by optimism born of recent progress towards resolving some of the long-standing pain points in online advertising. From the opening “War on Discrepancies” presentation to the final panel (moderated by AdMonsters CEO Bowen Dwelle) on developing ad operations talent, the apprehension and uncertainty over what 2009 may bring was offset by clear evidence that we are maturing as an industry.

Highlights of the agenda included discussion and early release of two industry initiatives (Impression Exchange and EDI), as well as release of a highly detailed ad operations best practices document. All three of these efforts show great promise – provided of course that we all heed the call to actually implement the methods and standards that were put forward. As AdMonsters approaches our 10 year anniversary (in 2009), we recognize these initiatives as real movement in areas that have long been discussed by members of the ad operations community. As the only professional association exclusively dedicated to online ad operations and technology, AdMonsters has its eyes and ears in the trenches of day-to-day ad operations, and we’re happy to see that these conversations and early efforts have borne fruit and come to formal expression. Although our role in the industry is different from that of the IAB, as always our goal is to work together to further our common goals, and we look forward to facilitating ongoing dialog about these initiatives at AdMonsters fourms, hopefully leading to real change and improvement in online ad operations processes.

The beta release of the Interactive E-Business Standard (EDI) marks the first formal, industry-wide effort that will begin to allow the automation of data flows between the myriad systems involved in online advertising. This is essential work for online advertising to evolve beyond its current adolescent phase into young adulthood, and for ad spending online to catch up to consumer time spent online. I recall Ben Reid’s original vision for “OARS” being discussed at AdMonsters XIII in 2005, and it’s fantastic to see that the work that has gone into this effort from all parties is finally bearing fruit.

The proposed Impression Exchange is extremely promising and I’m sure that many publishers can’t wait to see how this plays out. While an impression exchange wouldn’t itself ‘resolve’ discrepancies, the goal is to provide publishers the data required to catch discrepancies earlier in the campaign life cycle, analyze them and then respond to them, before the campaign has been put to bed. This new transparency into the actual numbers will help to recapture impressions and dollars currently lost to incorrect trafficking and under-delivery.

Those involved in these initiatives and IAB Ad Ops Summit should be proud of what they have accomplished. These initiatives are major steps forward for an industry that needs them desperately, and it’s important that companies in the field work to understand and begin to implement these proposals. While some companies may find 2009 to be a trying time, it’s important to remember that down cycles are often the best times to invest internally, in the quality, efficiency and reliability of their operations. As always, we look forward to helping to make that happen.