What We’ll be Talking about in 2009

The coming of a new year brings out the prognosticators in full force and there are plenty of predictions for what’s coming in 2009 out there. The difference this year versus prior years is the size and degree of the disclaimers that come with these predictions. Never have I seen so many “I could be totally wrong” or “I have really no idea” comments thrown into these articles. Makes sense as we head into somewhat uncharted territory, but the need to anticipate what’s coming still remains and in some ways is more important this year than ever. At AdMonsters, we’ve been planning what we’ll see being discussed at our events and on our website and here are some themes we see coming up for Ad Operations:

Not “Doing More with Less”, it’s “Doing More with Better”: This phrase came up during the planning of our Leadership Forum in London last November (thanks James and Sacha) and I think it captures the state of Ad Operations very well.  No doubt that some limitations will be placed on Ad Operation teams in terms of staffing or technology, but the expectation is that Ad Ops will continue to scale capabilities, even if it’s some time before the business catches up.  In other words, it won’t be enough to just work harder – Ad Ops is going to need to work smarter. This can only happen when everyone is focused on continuous improvement – Kaizen – and this applies not only to staff but to the vendors. Vendors need to hear from ad operations the top priority issues from the group and not from everyone separately. Only then will we all be doing more with better.

Earning your Stripes: Many like to give the year ahead a label. Think of 2009 as the “Year of the Tough Decision” where Ad Operations leaders will be required to make some choices – whether it be about people, process or technology. After five to six years of focusing on managing growth and scaling the business, add the additional challenges of managing costs and streamlining processes. Managing Ad Operations departments has never been harder.

For Ad Operations, it’ll be the Year of Mobile and the Year of Video (and so will next year): How many years in a row has it been the year of mobile or video? Quite a few. I think from a sales perspective considering the economic downturn, I don’t think either mobile or video is going to completely take off – neither is quite ready. As they inch closer however, the expectation is Ad Operations teams are ready to handle them. Time to get your ducks in a row.

Networks: From building them to banning them, networks provide a number of challenges – and opportunities – for ad operations and sales departments. Sales channel conflict is just one example of an issue that comes up with networks and this is thrusting ad ops into some pretty high level conversations at many publishers. I don’t think consolidation of the various players will make it any easier. It’ll be interesting this year to see how the various strategies play out and what new ones develop.

System Integration Pays Off: Whether it be a workflow solution that ties CRM systems into an adserver, greater confidence in inventory forecasting or simply automating one manual task, many Ad Ops teams are seeing the benefits of system integration. It’s great to see such hard work pay off and it’s helping lead the way to establish best practices for others to follow.

Other themes will emerge over the course of the year as they always do but I think some of our members are going after these topics with laser focus because they need to resolve a problem or scale a solution or move on to the next challenge. It’s for that reason that our various events are becoming even more important to our members. We’ve created a venue where the best of breed ideas are being shared and it’s more critical than ever to be there. We’re excited to be a part of the success that people have this year and that’s always been a theme of ours.

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 Orleans on March 8th for Publisher Forum US XX