Q and A With AdMonsters OPS Presenter Universal McCann VP Mitchell Weinstein

Editor’s note: This article originally appeared on DIGIDAYDaily.

Mitch Weinstein is the Vice President, Director of Digital Ad Operations at UM/J3, where he oversees trafficking, reporting, and overall campaign management and implementation.  He focuses on the latest in ad serving and targeting technologies, ensuring that clients are maximizing their budgets, reaching their target audiences, and achieving their objectives in the most efficient manner possible. Since he’ll be speaking on “Getting the Right Impression in Front of the Right Person” at next week’s AdMonster’s OPS show, in an environment increasingly populated by DSPs and exchanges, we thought we’d better find out how it’s done.

Q: How would you describe your day-to-day job?

Weinstein: As Director of Ad Operations at UM, I am responsible for all things related to ad serving, targeting, and verification.  It is my team’s job to make sure that all campaigns are trafficked properly and get out the door in a timely manner.  This means working closely with the different the planning teams, and following up with the media partners, creative shops, ad serving partners, and client approvers to ensure that campaigns go live on time.

We are also responsible for evaluating and testing all the latest technologies and capabilities in the marketplace.  This involves giving our stamp of approval on the latest services from DSP’s to Dynamic Creative Optimization to Brand Protection.  We are regularly meeting with different providers as we try to stay on top of the latest industry trends and developments.

Q: How have you seen the role of media buyers and ad ops at agencies evolve over the past couple of years?

Weinstein: These days, it is not enough for a media planner to simply do a Comscore or Nielsen pull, find where their target audience is indexing the highest, and then do a media buy based on the results. There is so much more that goes into the planning process, and so many more tools available to Digital planning teams. Contextual relevance is only one factor amongst many. 

Planning teams are now relying on Ad Operations teams to bring them the latest technical capabilities, and it is up to both teams to truly understand these technologies so that it can be explained to the advertising clients.  If Planning and Ad Ops are unable to convey the benefits and advantages of these services to the client, then we cannot expect the client to allocate budget for them, and an opportunity may be lost.

Q: You’re scheduled to talk about how agency ad operations are becoming more involved in the media planning process. Why do you feel that is happening?

Weinstein: Advances in targeting and verification are happening very quickly, and usually revolve around the Ad Ops process.  At the core of these services is the adserving platform itself.  Planning teams are relying on Ad Ops to cut through the clutter, and provide them with what they truly need to know.

Q: Right, but demand-side platforms are about the automation of the media planning process. How does this impact the roles of the media buyer and ad operations?

Weinstein: I think we are still in the early stages of the DSP movement.  From what I’ve seen, planners will still need to be heavily involved in the entire process of using a DSP.  Our teams cannot simply choose an audience, designate a budget and flight dates, set a max CPM, and then let the DSP do its thing.  It’s not that simple.  Planning and Ad Ops need to stay involved to ensure results are being tracked, audience targeting is appropriately applied, content terms are not being violated, and goals are being achieved, amongst many other things.  DSP’s can help us better reach our audience, but I’d be hesitant to say they “automate” the planning and buying process.  There is still a lot of work that goes into a media buy with a DSP….

DSP’s offer a very attractive value proposition:  reach your audience wherever they are in the most efficient manner possible.  As agencies and advertisers become more comfortable with the concept of real-time bidding and audience targeting, DSP’s will continue to emerge as a great way of reaching campaign goals and objectives.  DSP’s can’t do it all, but will be seen as a valuable part of the overall Digital marketing mix.

Q: One of your points seems to be how to use all the tools in the shed to reach the desired target audience. Talk a little bit about how to manage the data gathered from these tools to use for campaign management.

The data available to us can be completely overwhelming.  There is so much of it, from so many different sources.  And every data provider brings something unique and interesting to the table, which makes it very difficult to figure out who to work with. 

In addition to the “off the shelf” products, there is also custom data, which is collected by analyzing the client’s brand site.  Services that provide this type of analysis go way beyond what we used to consider “remarketing”, to the point that they are weighing the benefit of serving a relatively inexpensive impression to someone who is less likely to convert, against an expensive impression to someone who is more likely to convert – all in real time, calculated in fractions of a second.

Q: Do you think all these rapid-fire solutions – ad networks, exchanges, DSPs, verification services, semantic ad targeting and others – really bring you closer to the target audience your trying to reach, or does it risk cutting publishers out of the equation – people who arguably know their audience best?

 Weinstein: I think there will always be a need to work directly with publishers.  In order to execute large programs and impactful events, planners will continue to work closely with media partners.  These types of campaigns require careful coordination and management.  In addition, publishers are very adept at attracting specific, key audiences to their sites in ways that cannot be replicated by audience targeting.