Publisher Forum Miami 2019: Ad Ops Innovation is People

A constant theme at Publisher Forum Miami 2019 focused on innovation in ad ops being driven by people—and not machines. And that’s whether we’re talking about customers or the ad ops teams making the magic of digital advertising happen.

Machines Optimize. Humans Innovate.

While machine learning and AI are great technological innovations that can help improve both the creation and delivery of content and advertising, people who understand the data are needed to pull out insights that can inform strategy.



AdMonsters Publisher Forum Miami Florida


There’s a strong belief that there need to be more ads to increase revenue and engagement, but Dr. Deepna Devkar, VP, Head of Data Science, and her team at Dotdash have proven that when it comes to advertising, less is more. Neuroscience shows as that the brain really isn’t as limitless as we think, she says. The brain really has limited capacity for processing visual information and even less for actually remembering things.

Removing ads at Dotdash improved both site speed and engagement.




Dotdash made a huge bet to focus on the consumer and it really paid off. They are the fastest growing publisher, connecting with one in four people in the U.S. every single month.

Think Strategically. Implement Tactically.


“Think strategically, implement tactically. Focus on the goal and find the best way to achieve it…or else you end up with a flaming sack on your feet.” – Derek Gatts, Global Head of Advertising Innovation, Technology & Operations, Bloomberg Media

Ad ops teams can lead product development and innovation by focusing on the intersection between engagement and user utility. For Gatts’Ad Innovation Team, innovation depends on collaborating with other teams to spark ideas, using data analytics to derive insights and develop new products, and communicating by evangelizing precut successes to inspire new thinking.

In their mission statement it says: “By leveraging innovative technologies in a way that is uniquely Bloomberg, we provide utility to our audience and impact for our advertisers.” And it’s working. New products are driving higher interaction rates across-the-board at Bloomberg.

Attention is a Commodity.

“Publishers are losing viewership to social and OTT. Publishers are struggling to reach Gen Z and millennial consumers because they don’t consume content in traditional ways. Publishers are struggling to monetize effectively on top of social platforms because they’re using a classic production strategy within immature revenue streams that lead to costs outweighing revenue,” shared Ishaan Sutaria, Co-Founder, WAVE.

So how did WAVE become the fourth largest publisher on social with a 128M monthly reach across a highly engaged audience of Gen Z and millennial sports fans?

They put the consumer first.

  • Built communities around consumer interests, not the brand’s interests
  • Partnered with creators with massive following within the community to create content
  • Distributed their content everywhere (social, OTT, and Owned-and-operated broadcast)
  • Decentralized their newsroom (instead of one-to-many interactions, many-to-many interactions)
  • Social-first approach to storytelling (UGC )

WAVE built profitable and significant revenue on top of platforms by establishing favorable unit economics (low-cost distribution + low-cost content production) and diversifying revenue (paid, content licensing, subscriptions, eCommerce, partnerships).

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