I came here to post photos from last week’s Ops, but before that, I wanted to add one takeaway from the conference and all the conversations that led up to it. This year’s Ops really hammered home something Gavin, Rob and I have been writing and talking about considerably over the last year or so: Ad ops professionals are in the user experience business. They have to be. They’re the last line of defense against whatever is coming through the programmatic pipes, and they’re defending the user’s choice to visit that publisher’s site as well as defending the publisher’s own brand.
The thing is, and plenty of people on the publisher side of the media industry will say this as well: There aren’t a ton of people who actively like advertising. That even counts people who work creating and distributing ads. Advertising dollars support the media business, and as such the whole process of taking care of ad content, putting it in relevant and aesthetically pleasing environments, and helping to convey its messaging to users is a crucial part of the job. Users come to a publisher’s site for the content, of course. But the advertising is a necessary piece of the whole package they get by visiting that site, and so that part should be at the very least palatable. How far beyond “palatable” you want to take it is up to you–we still have to give creative agencies something to do.
Throughout Ops, we heard calls for better site security, demands for more engaging and relevant ad creative, and advice for better site performance. It’s not enough for ops teams to pull levers and make sure all the ad slots are filled. Ops is getting its hands dirty, digging into all sorts of matters around how ads can work better for everyone involved. That’s more than making sure advertisers are happy–these are user experience concerns.
Anyway, just as the ad experience shouldn’t detract from your site’s content, my takeaways shouldn’t detract from this photo set. Here are photos from (we think) every session from the whole day and a half of Ops, courtesy of Donna Alberico Photography. Maybe you can find yourself or someone you know somewhere along the way?