Ad Ops Documentation - How do you manage the Knowledge?

Published by: Max Brown , IGT IGN
Published on: January 16, 2012

Hi guys - I work within a small but growing Ad Ops team, and now that we have more new folks coming on board, we're realizing that it would be greatly helpful to have some documentation, 'How To's, and Troubleshooting FAQs to help get everyone up to speed and up to date.

What kind of tools do you use to manage this type of info? Word docs? Wikis?

Thanks much,


Google Docs, the content is what is important.

I like to have the trainee read thru the documentation and go thru it as if they know nothing,, and then 'update' it after they find gaps, outdated material, etc while doing the training. Ad Ops moves way to fast to always keep it updated. Last person in becomes the revision updater.

I'm starting to create a wiki for my adops team to use as a resource and I had a question regarding order of info. I'm thinking starting with the basics, such as the placements on our website and how they are served, but I'm not sure what would be the next topic that would make the most sense. Our Ad server, creative specs or trafficking info.. etc.
Does anyone have a good table of contents or structure of content that they can share that would make sense for a new adops person?


At my previous employer we set up a wiki that went roughly as follows:

1. Contacts, Roles & Responsibilities
2. Digital Terminology
3. Ad Operations Overview (ad selection process, types of creative, etc.)
4. Site Overview (structure, products, platforms, etc).
5. Sales Management Tool Training (DSM, Operative, etc).
5. Ad Server Training (DFP, etc).
6. Special instructions (high impact unit process, project management tools, etc)
7. Reporting
8. Specs

Definitely a process creating a wiki but is by far one of the best and easiest resource to maintain and navigate through. Our team divided up the work and just set a deadline. Once complete we continued to update with new and improved info. Highly recommend over having various word/google docs.

I second using mediawiki as well.

We find that Salesforce Chatter is a great way of colllaborating internally and allows you to share documents and fire out questions easily.

Other than that we have everything on the server or on Google Docs if it needs to be accessed remotely.

Hi Max,

I have been in Adops for over a decade and early in my career learned to build a Knowledge base which consisted of emerging tech, ad server white pages, Video converters, Image converters, SWF decomplilers and Web Debugging tools.

I am part of Adops Jedi Masters, a proud memeber of AdTastic Four and like all great superheores have a Hall of Adops Justice (Wiki) which I feel is the best place for a team to share and exchange knowledge.

Here are a couple of links that I would like to share which were sent to me a few years ago:

Also, a great Adops team should all have Mozilla FireBug:

**cool tutorial**

Hope that helps.


Hi Max,

Look me up on Linked In if your team is growing I would have lots to offer. Currently I am ending a contracted position with the NFL and will need to begin my search I have over 20 years of Project Manager skills and can be an asset to your team. Based here in NY as well.

Let me know

Thanks for the great tips, everyone! I'm going to look into getting an instance of OneNote up and running since it sounds like the easier it is for team members to contribute, the more they will do it.

Definitely agree that the tool/system used doesn't matter as much as building in the habit and good practice of detailed documentation.

But to your question about tools, our Ad Ops team has gone through a couple iterations of wikis and shared drive docs, but our CorpIT team found a great tool last year in Confluence: allows everyone within an org to setup their access rights and edit/comment/contribute to a common source. Ad Ops has setup our own area within that to own and manage, but others also have read-only access to find best practices, etc. Highly recommend it ( Hope you find a good fit for your needs!

Paid Member

Hi Max ~

I have found over the years it matters less about how you store your documentation and to spend more time getting it written down. For years we have wanted to create a wiki and have yet to do it (but we are still hopeful), we just keep Word docs on our server and reference from there.

I have found, especially when we had a much smaller team, having a team member that kind of likes doing documentation and holding them responsible for all of it goes a long way to actually getting things down. I find much of it is a) making it a priority and b) developing the habit. We still struggle with tribal knowledge and we have been a team for 10 years. Everything, but everything should be written down.

Cheers ~

For us the most important thing is the ability to edit quickly and on the fly, due to the ever-evolving nature of the work.

We use a OneNote notebook which is hosted on a Sharepoint server. If you have a recent version of Office this is an easy solution to set up - as long as the notebook is saved in a location which can be accessed by everyone on the team then there's essentially no ongoing administration outside of updating the information itself.

It has most of the functionality of a wiki but doesn't require any specialist knowledge or outside support to set up and run.

Hi Max,

No single format/tool is suited for all knowledge sharing so I would suggest a combination based on your own needs - we have found that Wiki’s are acceptable for most uses and form a good starting point. Especially if you use one with an extensive ‘extensions’ library so as to allow you to add additional features that may not be available out of the box (YouTube/JWPlayer video embeds, syntax highlighting for code etc).

You can also centralise all of your docs, spreadsheets, pdfs etc by hosting them on an FTP and having a document store within the Wiki platform. If you are technically inclined or have a dedicated team you can even attack the PHP code to really customize it (Themes, custom extensions, GUI changes etc).

You will no doubt be very familiar with Wikipedia... which is based on MediaWiki. I would start there and get that up and running first.


Ensure your team actively contribute since you can have all the fancy tools in the world but if no one is using them, they are useless. Maybe hold a training session and set each member a content-oriented goal each month. Something to get the knowledge flowing... you could even incentivise such behaviour at first...


Hi Max - Its not easy creating and maintaining docs of this nature, especially in ad ops because the technology is ever evolving. We created a website specific for all things ad ops. Obviously you need to have a resource that can build a site, but ours is very basic. Its very easy to edit, add to and easy for the whole team to access. Good Luck.

Rocket Fuel