Time Allocation

Ask someone in ad operations what their primary focus is for this year and they might respond with some of the standard responses – inventory forecasting, yield management, or billing. They may respond with some of the new issues now on their plates – data leakage, private exchanges, and the iPad. Listen closely and you’ll hear the real issue: time allocation. Since the dark days of a couple of years ago, ad operations folks have been keeping their foot on the gas trying to find any untapped source of revenue or efficiency or both. It’s a great time to be in ad operations, but it’s exhausting and hard to manage where to focus their attention. With full knowledge that every company is different, I’d like to offer my suggestion on how best to allocate the hours of the day for the head of an ad operations department.

Eighty percent on premium inventory. Premium inventory sold by direct sales still accounts for the majority of revenue for publishers – estimated somewhere in the area of 60 to 80 percent. It follows that this is where the majority of your time would be spent, but is it just keeping your head above water or plotting significant change? Delegate the day-to-day off your plate long enough to plot out your process and identify an area where you can significantly increase profit. Talking dollars and cents, convince management it’s time to focus attention on making noticeable improvements to your biggest revenue line.

Fifty percent on secondary inventory. No more talk of remnant and putting your unsold inventory on auto-pilot. By focusing on the value of the user and not just the impression, publishers are learning how to repackage this inventory for a much higher return. While this does not generate the revenue of premium, it is important to invest the time to understand how this new data-driven marketplace works. It’s driven by technology and operations and you will need to lead your company in this direction.

Thirty percent on a mobile strategy. Usage of mobile devices to access the Internet will outstrip that of desktop computers within four years according to some estimates. You don’t have four years to start to pay attention to the increasing amount of your inventory being accessed through mobile. The revenue isn’t there yet, but it’s time to make sure you are prepared.

You’ll see that my math is already off and I haven’t even touched video, the new IAB ad sizes, and everything else that ad operations finds on their plate marked essential. Which brings me to my last piece of time allocation: professional development. The solution to having all of this on your plate is not to simply work harder. You need to work better. Heading up an ad ops department is no longer something that the best trafficker can do. It requires a set of business and management skills. Both you and your boss need to be plotting out how to develop these skills so you can truly run your department. Perhaps one of the most important projects you can take on this year is growing yourself.

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