Ad Ops Is a Thankless Job, But Thanks Anyway

“Digital advertising is what you get when you give technology to people with liberal arts degrees.”

This has been one of my go-to jokes of the past year and it almost always gets a laugh. Accountants and media finance people always chuckle at the statement.

Imagine for a second going to school for accounting and getting a job in digital advertising. In school, you learn you bill for what you deliver. To bill for something else would be a crime.

Now you work in an industry where the client tells you what you delivered and how much they are going to pay. Your own people will try to explain why they get a different number than the clients, but more often than not they’ll just throw their hands up in the air and say, “Good enough.”

I can’t imagine how painful that must be to come to grips with.

Technologists will chuckle at my premise as well. You see, they understand how the Internet works and they want to fix it. How silly they must feel when they realize that, yes, as a publisher I want to get rid of ad fraud but what I really want is for my numbers to match the agencies’ fraud numbers. So yes, fix it… but not if it’s going to create more discrepancies I have to reconcile.

I say all of this with love in my heart. I’m one of those liberal arts people with a degree in film production, minor in English. Digital advertising became my home for the reasons I think many people find their way into this career path: I tried programming but wasn’t hardcore enough. Sales? No thank you. Accounting? I can’t even fathom that painful existence—which I say with all due respect.

A part of the disconnect from reality that is digital advertising is the whole conceit that advertising can be measured with technology. I’m going to paraphrase a statement Rob Norman, formerly of WPP, said at an OPS conference about how advertising is about trying to make the magic of a creative thought and use to technology measure how magical it was.

Far from obsolete, advertising can be magical—it’s just not as magical when your canvas is a 300×250 pixel graphic and the measure of success is that half of it can be seen for at least a second.

To flip the script, it’s for that same reason that makes something like ad operations so fascinating. The ad ops job description: take a bunch of disparate systems and continually try to sync them up enough to make money so you can justify giving away content away for free to consumers who hate that you exist.

Ouch. With a description like that, it’s amazing that I’m considered a member of the advertising industry. It, however, IS the point. If you realize just how crazy some of this is AND continue to do it AND enjoy it, you found your home.

We’re puzzle solvers. We take a lot of crap. We evolve. We try and fail and then try again.

Can an accountant do what we do? No. Can sales? Ha! Can a programmer do we what do? Well, yes, of course, they can. But I digress. I’m cheerleading for you, not them!

It’s Thanksgiving which for Ad Ops is less about thanks and more about Q4 being in full swing. It’s about passing the mash potatoes to Mom while wondering if you remembered to frequency cap that FPTO.

But I want to thank you on behalf of users who don’t understand what the Internet would be like with ads. I want to thank you on behalf of sales who can only be successful if they know they have a great team behind them.

Lastly, I want to thank you on behalf of the AdMonsters team/family. This year saw some great conversations at our conferences and on our pages. Next year those conversations will continue and evolve and as we move into new areas of discussion.

Miami. New York. Vancouver. Scottsdale.

Can’t wait.