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Ad Servers' Growing Ad Trafficking Role

  |  August 30, 2004   |  Comments

Creating and implementing dynamic ad formats is no easy task. Cherish your ad traffickers!

More broadband access and more sophisticated ad-serving technology means advertisers increasingly use rich media and streaming video to stand out from the crowd. According to DoubleClick's Q2 2004 Ad Serving Trends, the number of rich media ads served has grow 34 percent year on year for Q2 2004.

As advertisers introduce dynamic formats into their online campaign schedules, both creative execution and implementation become more complex.

Rich media ad delivery creates additional technical complexity and a higher risk of error. Flash and streaming files are multilayered, which makes extra coding necessary. Though advertisers can create eye-catching and highly responsive ads in these formats, more technically complex ads affect creative execution as well as trafficking and delivery. In a recent Jupiter Research survey, 34 percent of respondents said "greater labor, production and deployment costs" are a main obstacle to rich and streaming ad usage.

Despite the best intentions of ad-serving technology providers, such as Tangozebra, Eyeblaster, and DoubleClick (DART Motif), rich media ads still demand extra time and attention to detail. Testing is vital to iron out potential errors in:

  • Delivering creative from the agency to the ad trafficker, if the base ad malfunctions

  • Tagging Flash files for tracking purposes, if the creative agency hasn't made provisions for this procedure

  • Integrating the ad into the media owner's site, if file and format aren't compatible

These issues compound when a campaign contains multiple ad formats placed on multiple sites through multiple ad servers. Advertisers must incorporate sufficient time, resources, and budget to campaign delivery.

To minimize delays and improve procedural efficiencies, create standardized workflow processes to help manage and control all input: ad creative from the agency, media schedule from the planner or buyer, campaign objectives from the advertiser, and site specs from the media owner. Creating checklists and prioritizing delivery schedules helped U.K. agency i-level lower ad delivery time by 55 percent. For more guidance, check out the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) or AdMonsters, an industry group championing best practice in Europe.

Media agencies and Web publishers should look to ad traffickers to play a pivotal role in effectively managing rich media ad campaigns. They are perfectly positioned to aid coordination and communication between the various stakeholders. As they become more experienced with rich media campaigns, they can better react to potential issues as they arise.

Ad servers also help ensure maximum productivity in campaign implementation. They must provide ongoing support and education to ad creators and traffickers. Two good examples are the TABS and ZebraOne tools provide by Tangozebra, backed up by an easily reachable support staff.

Ad-serving personnel are significant, too, in ensuring timely campaign execution. Expect to pay for the services of skilled individuals, usually incorporated as a percentage in the CPM deal. Be aware of the advantages and disadvantages of developing internal resources versus outsourcing the activity.

Outsourcing to specialist companies such as Trafficmac and Trafficmaid can be an attractive, cost-effective solution if in-house resources are limited. An internal team has its own advantages. Employees with expertise in campaign implementation can spread their knowledge throughout the company and influence the optimization and planning process. If you build an internal resource, consider nurturing in-house expertise by integrating trafficking personnel into the team. They can make a valuable contribution to your organization.

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Julian Smith

Julian Smith conducts research and analysis on the European interactive marketing and advertising arena as an analyst with Jupiter Research, which shares a parent company with ClickZ.

His areas of expertise cover all aspects of the online advertising industry, e-mail marketing, mobile (SMS/MMS) marketing, search engine marketing, eCRM, online branding and Web site design. His particular area of interest is in the use of digital media for the acquisition, retention and development of customers.

Prior to joining Jupiter Research, Julian spent over six years working in a variety of interactive marketing agencies in London. These included Razorfish, Euro RSCG Interaction and TBWA/GGT where he worked in strategy and client service roles helping develop online solutions for leading blue chip clients. Most recently he assisted in the integrated marketing launch of 3, the new 3G video mobile phone, one of the largest new product launches in the UK in 2003.

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