Advice For an Ad-Ops Intern

For the first time in history, the UM Ad Ops team is getting a summer intern. Apparently, there are a lot of mundane and basic tasks associated with Operations (who knew!), and our team will be able to push those tasks onto the intern for the next 2 ½ months. We are all very excited.

I haven’t met the intern yet (for now let’s call him Bob), but he was interviewed by Brooke, one of our Rockstar Ad Ops Managers. Brooke assures me he is smart, organized, and eager to learn. Those are the top traits we look for in a new Ad Ops team member, so we should be all set for a successful summer.

When Bob starts in two weeks, I plan to meet with him and share my “lay of the land” talk. Basically, when new employees start, I give them a high-level overview of our industry in an attempt to put things into perspective for them. It’s my belief that people perform better when they understand why they are doing something, what the objective is, and how it fits in to the broader company goals. Context is key.

For simplicity, I’ve arranged my key points for Bob into a numbered list, which will serve as the foundation for his summer learning. Here we go:

1) There are two types of ad agencies: those that create the ads, and those that place them in the right spots. We are the latter.

2) We are a full service media agency. We provide a wide range of services, including Broadcast, Print, Digital, Out-of-Home, Media Strategy, etc. For the purposes of your internship, we are going to focus on Digital.

3) UM is a great place to work. The education you get here will be invaluable to your career. Consider yourself lucky to be here, and even luckier to be part of the team that is on the cutting edge of ad tech.

4) Our team’s job is to ensure the media that is being planned and bought by the other agency teams goes live and runs as it should. Sounds straight forward, but it definitely is not.

5) Our job is also to seek out new and effective technologies for our clients and test and evaluate them where appropriate. This can be overwhelming, but it can also be fun and rewarding.

6) It’s very important that you pay close attention to all of your tasks, as small details can have a major impact on the success of a campaign.

7) Agency org structures can be confusing. Most large agencies have many divisions, brands, and holding companies, and the relationships between these groups can be complex. I’ll give you the general overview, but don’t worry about this too much for now. It will sink in at some point (however, at that point the structure may have changed).

8) Our agency buys from Media Partners. Media Partners are referred to as publishers, vendors, sell-side, and supply-side. The terms are interchangeable, and basically mean the same thing. Consider them synonyms.

9) There are three types of Media Partners: 1) Those that own and operate their own properties, 2) Those that aggregate inventory from a range of sites and sell media on their behalf; and 3) Those that place media through ad exchanges. There is a good deal of overlap here, but these are important distinctions. We will talk more about this throughout your internship.

10) All Digital Media should be 3rd Party served. There are many benefits to 3rd Party serving that increase efficiency and effectiveness of our clients’ media. We will spend a lot of time understanding this concept. But keep this basic fact in mind as you go about your work.

11) You will hear many industry buzz words (programmatic, tag management, retargeting, private exchanges, etc.) and a ton of industry acronyms (RTB, DSP, ROI, CPM, DMP, ATD, etc.). People will talk fast, and drop these terms all day long. Don’t be overwhelmed by these, and don’t try to understand them all. Just focus on your job.

12) Attend some conferences, but let’s discuss which ones. There are A LOT of Digital Media events – some better than others. So let’s be selective with your valuable time, and choose one or two that make sense.

13) There are many smart people at this agency who have much to offer. Meet as many of them as possible while you are here.

14) People are trying to sell us things all the time. You can learn a lot from a good salesperson. Pay attention to the presentations, and ask many questions. Think critically about the product and consider whether it would benefit our clients. Not all products are a good fit, but every meeting is an opportunity to increase your knowledge base.

15) Make sure to say thank to you anyone who takes you out to lunch, or buys you some kind of gift. You are not entitled to these things, and should always show appreciation.

16) We do a lot of work with Google, Facebook, Hulu, Twitter, and many other really cool companies. At first this may seem fun and exciting. That probably won’t last, and as you get more into your job, you might find yourself more excited about working with companies most people have never heard of (maybe the next Google?).

17) And of course…Read AdExchanger every day. (Ed. note – You should also sign up for the AdMonsters weekly newsletter, nudge, nudge. You can register below!)

If Bob follows the above guidance, he will end up in a good place by the end of the summer and will be well positioned for a successful career. Good luck Bob!

Originally published on UM’s Curiousity Works blog.