How the Pandemic Got Ad Ops and Sales to Cozy Up

Historically, the relationship between ad ops and sales has been labeled with an “It’s Complicated” status.

The two teams tend to operate out of their own silos. On one hand, the sales team is pressured with meeting sales goals. On the other hand, ad operations are challenged with executing ad campaigns that meet advertiser goals while also providing an optimal user experience.

But these two sides shouldn’t be in opposition. Publisher success requires cooperation of the two, as neither can achieve their highest goals without the other team’s support. That’s why fostering effective communication across the two teams is critically important, as well as implementing a highly-structured workflow.

Since the pandemic, the relationship between ad ops and sales has become far more collaborative. Now, the two teams are coming together to rethink and revise their processes, client approaches and even their workflows—and often they’re leveraging automation technology to maximize efficiencies.

We recently chatted with publishers—at a Think Tank supported by ADvendio—about the transformation happening within their organizations as a result of the pandemic and how it’s impacting the overall sales process.

ADvendio is a leading Salesforce powered advertising management software for media buying and selling with solutions to handle complex campaigns across linear, digital, and combined deals.

Collaboration in Effect

Driven by advertisers’ need for more customization, one of the areas where publishers are starting to experience tighter collaboration is in the pre-sales process.

Sales is paying really close attention to how ad ops function. While it’s producing a way-too-many-cooks-in-the-kitchen scenario, at the same time it’s strengthening ops’ ability to stay on top of deals from beginning to end.

“We’re making sure that we’re working with them very closely and staying on top of the proposal through its lifecycle so that we can be there to guide them, make sure it sells through, and we won’t fail at executing it,” shared one publisher. 

This new relationship between sales and ad ops is helping to better facilitate customer demand and workflows. And with that, sales is becoming a more consultative partner to advertisers. 

Revenue professionals talked with us about the way sales now relies on ad ops during the pre-sales process to mine insights that will be useful in demonstrating the value of the products that sales are out there selling in the market. 

“We’re taking a different approach and asking them for the RFP and to explain in one sentence what the client’s goals are, and then we come back with recommendations based on budget levels,” shared one publisher.

The collaborative approach is empowering publisher organizations to be more nimble in finding the right fit for each client instead of focusing on a one size fits all solution. Publishers who were traditionally more conservative and cyclical in their approach to developing new products are now releasing them faster because they’ve gained a better understanding of clients’ needs.

Creative Workflow Gets a Boost

With tighter collaboration comes increased productivity and an opportunity for sales and ad ops to take a step back and think about how they can make their processes and workflows function more smoothly.

One approach some publishers are adopting is automating the creative collections process. “Rather than clients sending things back-and-forth by email, we’re headed towards enabling this process more through self-service. It adds huge value and allows the client to transmit their own creative and manage the whole process,” said one publisher.

When publishers can automate the creative production process and the workflow, then less issues will arise from too many hands in the process. It can save a lot of time when all of the creative is moving through a process of notifications and reminders and then directly to the server, without anyone ever really touching the file.

Reporting and Data Insights Still A Challenge

Other areas where publishers would like to see more automation, especially with a real-time system, is with reporting and analytics.

Since publishers are dealing with more customizations for clients now, reporting has become a big headache when dealing with various client dashboards. The challenge for many publishers has been finding a partner who can not only aggregate reports but provides a holistic view.

The same can be said about getting metrics from various vendors to be able to provide data insights to clients. “We can get individual metrics from different vendors and we’ve tried several approaches for integrating it, but the more automated we can be, then the more we can do with our resources,” shared a publisher.

Being able to connect the dots with vendors and close the gaps would help any publisher do a lot more analytics work that can help sales do a better job.

With everyone working from home over the past six months and having some down time to look deeper into the business, each team across the publisher organization was pulling spreadsheets from within their part of the media business. The craziness of it all led one publisher to build out an automated system to bring these disparate siloed data resources together. 

“I mean, I’ve been preaching about automating stuff for years,” he said. “They finally said, OK, go build this thing out. So it’s been really nice. We have an entire data team that’s picking up all kinds of information. So everybody has been satisfied.”

From Self-Service to Self-Manage

Some publishers still shy away from adopting self-service technology, since their clients still require too much hand holding to bring a campaign to life. But those publishers are also seeing an opportunity for using self-serve tech with a self-managed approach. 

The idea of self-managed is based on taking all of that disparate data that’s being aggregated into one place for use by internal teams and making it available to clients as well, in a quick consumable manner.

“I think the self-managed approach is the little things like allowing the client to come in and just do their campaign, do an invoice and allow them to pay by credit card or save their credit card in a wallet. All of those little things that add up,” explained one publisher.

What’s Next?

The next phase of automation for publishers is whether they can create an end-to-end system for clients, with the kind of real-time reporting that we talked about earlier. 

Already, many publishers are implementing self-serve ad platforms to capture SMB ad spend as incremental revenue. Some are even starting to talk about exploring the technology’s capabilities for grabbing larger buys.

To simplify the buying process, some publishers are also toying with the idea of creating a self-service marketplace where buyers can purchase programmatic guaranteed across many publishers.

In the end, stronger collaboration between ad ops and sales and implementing automation are laying the groundwork for streamlining the entire ad sales process across the industry.