Ops: Not Another Three-Letter Acronym

Charting the Australian Operations Wilderness

Don’t get me wrong – I love me some RTB. I love discussing ATDs, DSPs, DMPs and anything in our industry with a three-letter acronym. Whenever I hear someone use “OS” to shorten “operating system,” I feel like something is missing – like the concept is doomed to fail unless it adds another letter.

But one thing does rub me the wrong way about all these acronyms: they don’t full capture the depth or breadth of the role of operations. RTB does not replace or equal Ops – it’s a fraction of what ad ops people are focused on.

As I prepare for my first trip to Australia next week to moderate our second AdMonsters Sydney conference, I want to make sure that all the recent discussion about RTB, data, etc., doesn’t have people thinking they know Ops or that there is nothing left to say. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.

Automated Trading Is Coming, But It’s Not Here Yet

Allow me to make the sweeping generalization that the U.S. market is on the bleeding edge of the automated trading “movement,” with Europe at the also-impressive cutting edge. In fact, at our OPS Markets London event, I heard that the main differences between the U.S. and Europe is scale and speed of adoption. Europe is watching the U.S. and gauging the problems faced and best practices emerging – as such, European media companies aim to make fewer mistakes as new concepts are introduced.

Where does that leave Australia and automated trading? My perception (and I’m looking forward to learning more) is that it’s a small market (currently) that comes with advantages and disadvantages. RTB loves liquidity – people prosper when there are a lot of bids. So will RTB function as well in a smaller market? Personally I don’t think that it’s guaranteed. On the plus side, however, it’ll only take a few big players to adopt RTB before a significant amount of business is transacted in this way.

But Australia is also a different market from the U.S. and Europe, especially when it comes to the agency/publisher relationship – there will be those that don’t want to see RTB take hold. What these people will learn, however, is that RTB is a subset of some macro moves to truly automate how impressions are bought and sold – the benefits of such should outweigh the perceived downside.

So for operations folks, RTB, data and automated trading are important topics to discuss, but it’s not the full reality of what they are doing. Topics like video and mobile and sponsorship packages are critical conversations to help grow revenue.

Staffing Is Operations’ Problem #1

Again, as Australia is currently a modest market and has a smaller pool of talent to pull from accentuating the importance of finding, training and retaining solid operations people is crucial. The move to automated trading makes the problem even worse as there are new skill sets that come from managing new systems. We’ll be focusing on these issues next week at the event and sharing best practices for individual operations leaders as well as the industry as a whole.

An Acronym to Aspire to: COO

At our U.S. Publisher Forum in Palm Springs, AdMonsters CEO and Founder Bowen Dwelle suggested to the attendees that operations are a company’s Chief Operations Officers (OPS = COO). For the individual trafficker, this sounds like a stretch, but history has already shown that operations people have gone from the back room to the board room. In the U.S., there are quite a few VPs of Operations helping their companies navigate the tricky digital waters, and we’re seeing a similar trend in Europe as well.

For any company in any market, watching the next generation of COOs emerge from the digital operations teams is simply a matter of time. The key lies in companies and operations leaders setting up a path to make this happen. That’s the part in particular that excites me about the AdMonsters conferences coming up – helping plant that seed that the future business leaders are in the room and it’s time to get them on their way.

OPS Markets

Are RTB’s prospects looking up down under? AdMonsters Sydney will bring digital advertising leaders and ops professionals together to discuss and develop best practices for operational excellence in the evolving automated landscape on the Australian continent. Register today for AdMonsters Sydney, which will be held March 22, 2012.