Thoughts on Portland

Last week was the second US Publisher Forum of the year and this time the setting was Portland, Oregon. The event had a special vibe to it in part because of the setting (Portland prides itself on being different), the number of people (the event was sold out) and the number of new people attending (over 40). But as unique as this Publisher Forum was, it was clear that everyone had the same mission: get the most out of the short time we had together at the event. I’m sure everyone who attended now knows one of their peers that they can reach out to for help and came away from the event with some action items they can implement once they recover from being out of the office. From my vantage point, I could see over the course of the sessions certain themes emerge:

Managing Ad Operations takes creativity. Over the course of the event, someone made the point that Ad Operations is for the most part a “made up” position. Depending on your company, Ad Operations has evolved from the pseudo-techie people who traffick ads to a department at the center of everything that is revenue and process. This evolution – which continues – requires Ad Operations leaders to be creative in their approach to solving the big and small issues on their plate. This came up time and time again throughout the forum from Derek Dukes’ keynote presentation on being entrepreneurial during uncertain times through to a break-out session on staff incentives. It’s great to see people think of their job in creative, new ways.

Emerging Media is top of mind. The agenda for Portland included two sessions on video advertising and one on mobile. On site, the group decided this wasn’t enough and added an additional breakout session on mobile advertising, specifically around mobile apps. For those in the throes of implementing video or mobile ad solutions, it was a great setting to share ideas and best practices. While many people see the state of mobile as reminiscent of the ‘old days’ of display, Ad Ops has learned some lessons from the past and moving forward on mobile in smarter, more strategic ways.

Networks, ad exchanges and network optimization companies ears must be burning. The impact of networks are having on the market is probably the biggest issue in online advertising today, and that certainly was the case in Portland. While many publishers refuse to run networks on their sites, the conversation has increasingly moved toward how to work with the networks better. This is a marked difference from past events as more publishers have embraced networks as an essential part of their business and not just ‘remnant revenue’. Whether it’s building vertical networks or dedicating additional staff to manage network relationships, it looks like some companies are “doubling down” on the bet that networks are the future of online.

This list hardly describes all the ground covered at the Publisher Forum but is indicative of the level of conversation that emerges when Ad Operations professionals come together. While we continue to struggle with issues like rich media tags and the like, what really interests Ad Operations is elevating the conversation and talking about revenue and efficiencies. I can’t wait to hear how the things discussed in Portland impact Ad Ops over the next 6 months at the next Publisher Forum.

Rob Beeler is Vice President of Content and Media for AdMonsters and has worked in Ad Operations for over ten years. Rob started attending AdMonster events in 2004 as a member and will be in New York, New York on September 30th for the Leadership Forum US VIII