The New Agile Org: Media Operations and the Modern Publisher

How does a pub keep up?

A concept that once was dedicated to the ability to develop product is now part of the fabric of publishing organizations driven to succeed in this new ad tech era. I am talking about the agile and adaptive ad tech organization – in many ways, the profile of the modern publisher.

After all, change is constant and every week there seems to be a new ad tech product that a publisher must review. We all accept this new reality. But, one of the best things about our industry is how quickly advancements are made and how adaptive our culture is. Admittedly, for those who are not accustomed to this nimble world, the technology landscape is an overwhelming tidal pull, challenging them to keep their footing. It’s even difficult for those native to the industry to go with the flow.

We constantly hear about overworked, understaffed agencies. How pinched they are, and how those media buyers are beaten down in their cubicles night after night, inundated by media partners. Yes, this is a reality – but there is another side to this story that tends get ignored.

There is a new voice rising up and saying, “What about me? As a publisher, I am inundated with vendor reps calling me, management sending emails about how we have to be in the mix with the newest tool set because of something they read in the trades. I am constantly asked at internal meetings – have you talked to ‘technology startup 1’ or have you demoed system XYZ?’  I hear they are the next big thing since sliced bread.

This tension is but one sign of the dynamics and challenges of keeping up inside the publisher.

The Need for Agile Ad Ops

When you finally clear your calendar of the ordinary day-to-day stuff: troubleshooting delivery for the largest client; optimizing to campaign KPIs; meeting with current technology partners to get an update on their roadmaps; updating release schedules – it’s only then that you sit down to book meetings to vet vendors as your management team is expecting you to do.

But, where do you start? DMPs? DSPs (because in case you haven’t heard publishers are using these now too), data partners, mobile vendors, video vendors… You get the idea.  

So you focus in on the new hottest thing in the systematic world and book the demos.  What you quickly find is that there are now new roles and responsibilities to go along with adopting these systems.  Yes, you will need a data engineer – and more.

What’s a modern publisher to do? What exactly is required of today’s publisher to adapt, keep pace and ultimately thrive?

Focus, Choose and Go

Sadly there is no silver bullet. My suggestion is to focus. Focus on what you are truly in need of today. Because honestly, what is out there today will be updated, tweaked and possibly acquired by the time you craft the RFP to vet to vendors. 

Gone are the days of long lead times and 6 month test plans. Today’s environment calls for an agile media operations team who can develop lean test plans with seamless tagging and operations to execute. Who to test and when to test must be driven by technological guidelines, business objectives, and the ability to garner measurable results.

In this new ad tech era, the modus operandi for modern day publishers is to focus your teams on the technological innovations that stand to further your business objectives. I know it sounds simple, but I am proof that with so much going on, it is easy to get lost in the vacuum of technological innovation with no clear plan, just endless meetings and demos with potential partners.

With that I leave you with four things quadrantONE does to help us vet potential partners that keeps our operating state agile and ready to scale:  

  • We clearly define what need the technology solves
  • We always have a plan that we develop as a team; we vet all vendors in the context of that plan vs. ad hoc
  • Whenever we execute a new technology, we test and measure to gradually optimize how we are using it
  • We stay agile, focus on hiring agile people; your resources are your most valuable asset 

Once you get through the tech review tunnel, you will realize the modern day publisher finally has more than an ad server to play with. Don’t be intimidated. Focus, choose and go – your ability to integrate agility into your daily operations will make you well prepared to leverage technical innovations to your advantage.