Zeebox’s Peter Yardley-Jones On Second Screen, Market Changes and More

This interview was republished, courtesy of Xcede.

Peter Yardley-Jones is the current Head of Advertising Operations for zeebox in the United Kingdom. Here’s what he had to say on the future of second-screen, market changes, and just what it means to jump into a career in ad-ops. 

From your professional opinion as Head of Ad Ops, how would you then personally like to define your market? 

I feel that’s the million-pound question and something that anyone in Ad Ops might still be trying to work out. Every job I’ve done in Ad Ops has been different – that’s what makes it such a great field to work in and develop. The way that I would personally define Ad Ops is a team or person who fulfills the campaign. The rest of my answer will be swayed towards publisher side, as that’s where all of my experience has been. Some companies will be more specific in their naming conventions, as there are so many strands of Ad Ops, for example, traffickers, inventory managers, Tech Ops (or Ad Tech).

Overall I feel that my role in Ad Ops is to own a campaign in collaboration with a sales manager. A Sales Manager I see to own the relationship with an agency, and Ad Ops to own the campaign in so far as… Pre-sales, aiding a sales manager in answering a client brief. Advising what the best targeting options are and then providing inventory forecasts for that level of targeting. Then post-sales, collecting assets for that campaign and QA-ing them to ensure that they are correct for the placement and if not, advising the client as to why they’re not correct. Ad Ops should then provide reporting during the campaign, as agreed with the client. Then, where necessary, provide ideas of optimisation to ensure that an advertiser is getting the best ‘bang for their buck’ (apologies for the Americanism!)

At the end of the campaign, Ad Ops should assist in providing as much data as they can to help explain why the campaign did (or maybe didn’t) match the original brief or targets set out at the beginning of the campaign and then list learning’s for future campaigns. Some companies might divide the above into other roles within an Ad Ops team, however, the ideal Ad Ops candidate will know a little about all the above with an area of expertise.  

You have been successful within your career within Ad ops, how would you say you differentiate from the rest of the market? 

The first part of that answer would be to always stay current with new technologies. Ad Ops is constantly evolving and the way that ads are bought, sold, managed etc. is always changing. Despite my role not always needing to know the ins and outs of processes from the areas in which I work, I’ve found it beneficial to know how trafficking actually works or how a sales manager actually thinks about selling a campaign. I personally would never work in sales, but knowing how a sales manager works and thinks about pitching campaigns will help in campaign planning and optimisation of campaigns running for which an Ad Ops person is key. 

From working within 2nd screen advertising at Zeebox, have you noticed any trends? 

Definitely that second-screening is a new trend and more and more studies are showing that it is the place to be for advertising. We’re trying to formalise some of our intial findings and I don’t want to say too much yet, but the trends we’re seeing are very exciting and stay tuned for more updates. Where do you think the 2nd screen advertising market is going in the future? The 2nd screen market is, in my opinion, the new baby-boomer. Synchronising TV ads to the second screen is definitely the next big thing. The CTRs that we’re seeing from our second-screen SpotSynch™ offering are great and what’s better is that it happens all automatically from zeebox’s server-side technology, so there’s no ‘listening in’ from a device, or preparation a user has to do for them to be served a second-screen companion ad. This provides a great measurable CTA for advertisers. 

What trends have you noticed, such as RTB becoming incorporated into TV advertising?

I think a big tech trend will be when agencies develop more digital creative which is tailored to the second screen, for example following up on a TV ad’s message with a more direct (and even potentially personalised) message, offer or some other online form of engagement. Regarding RTB and TV advertising, it’s not something I know much about but know that large broadcasters are focusing on it. 

What trends have you noticed within the overall market recently? 

The biggest change I’ve noticed is the way that media is bought and sold. There’s still a very heavy dependency on agencies needing to standardise any bespoke packages into thinking of them in a CPx (x being replaced with a standard buy e.g. M/C etc.)  model. RTB is certainly on a rapid increase of buying and selling inventory on both publisher and agency sides but I don’t feel the true capabilities and power of this tool have been understood and grasped by brands and agencies. There’s still a lot of education needed on the power of new tools in the market. The TrueView CPV ad format from YouTube is also (sadly, in my opinion) redefining the way ads are bought on YouTube and the way pre-roll ads are viewed by the public. When I used to work at Machinima people used to say to me: “oh, you’re the person who puts the annoying ‘click here to skip this ad’ ads”.

What are the things businesses should be doing within Ad Ops that they tend to be missing? 

I feel that some businesses still do not know how to fit Ad Ops into a standard organisation hierarchy. Do they sit under technology or do they sit under Sales. My personal opinion is that they are a hybrid of both. Ad Ops should also not be labelled as simply ‘sales support’ either. One company I worked for had the balance perfect, whereby Ad Ops sat in a hybrid place between sales and tech.

What are the challenges someone working within Ad ops would face in the work place? 

Quite possibly: Where do I fit in? What is my role? Sometimes the answer is whatever you make of your role… Self-autonomy and working out what to do is vital in start up organisations. Having a ‘get up and go’ attitude produces the best candidates in the start-up space. Ad Ops is a great area to get involved in as many parts of a campaign’s life.

What are the challenges someone might face when heading into the market?

A lot of Ad Ops job specs are either non-existent or incredibly vague. I would recommend that before or during the interview processes you establish what would be expected of you in Ad Ops, as there are many areas and levels of technical ability and other specialist areas which can make people feel out of their depth.

What tips would you give to someone aspiring to get to where you are? 

Make sure you’re always reading the latest media and ad tech news. There are many available from e-consultancy and other blogs. If you’re in a large organisation, sit with fellow colleagues in Ad Tech and sales to see what they do with campaigns and share your knowledge and gain knowledge from them.  

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time? 

At the rate at which technology is moving, who knows? I’m sure I’ll still be in the ever-growing and ever-changing field of Ad Ops!