Coordination between ad-sales teams and ad-operations teams is an obvious goal for publishers, but complexities generated by the logistics of selling ad space and the execution of the ensuing ad campaign makes such coordination extremely difficult. The pressure of a high-volume business environment, coupled with the seemingly open-ended complexity of digital ad operations, tends to work against cooperation between sales and ops.
Communication is the issue, of course, but the extreme variability of ad media and placement mechanics — coupled with the competing pressures of ad sales and sales fulfillment — has fostered management approaches that have generally isolated ad sales and ad ops into their own silos. The resulting dysfunctions include overselling of ad space, ad placement snafus, and inaccurate assessments of ad fulfillment. Each of these problems can have a drastic impact on the publisher’s bottom line, and taken together can render forecasting more a trial-and-error art than a scalable science.
Developing a Centralized but Nuanced Approach
When extracting useful information from the business and performance data generated by digital ad operations, the natural tendency of professionals working in their own silos is to isolate what seems to them to be pertinent to their own success. Ad sellers look for data that shows the status of their own, often-commission-based bottom line, while ad operators look for data that shows the degree to which their operations are fulfilling the commitments made in the ad sale. In short, each grabs their own data bits and runs.
But given the scope and complexity of the digital ops data load, this knee-jerk approach tends to miss all sorts of data that can be used to benefit the performance of both teams when it’s properly framed and shared. This fact suggests the creation of a more nuanced approach to the division of data mining roles, one that operates around a central, modular core concern: how the data relates not only to ad sales and ad ops on an individual basis, but also to the overall performance of each team, and of the publisher as a whole.
The Importance of Communication
An individual sales rep or sales manager is concerned with accurately assessing the performance of ad campaigns and the relative impact that performance will have on their commissions. But the overarching reality is that their team-specific concerns are directly impacted by the accuracy of sales planning, an essential aspect of digital ops that is impossible to do well if sales teams don't have the whole picture.
To correct this situation, sales teams must have access to the data needed to keep an eye on campaign performance and available inventory. But the benefits of quality data overviews go beyond sales planning. Seeing how sales are trending by agency and advertiser can help sales teams establish solid action items that better reflect the priorities the trends imply. To achieve these gains, however, communication between all parties is absolutely critical — sales representatives must communicate not only with each other (to ensure they are not double-booking), but also with operations (to ensure they are not overbooking).
Over time, the lack of proper communication will show itself. Oversold and double-booked inventory, a common problem in digital advertising, will have a negative impact on the entire organization. Why? Because revenue is only generated when campaigns deliver and a contract is fulfilled, regardless of what was sold.
If there are signs that a campaign is experiencing problems that may cause it to under-deliver, operations needs to communicate this to the appropriate sales person or account manager as soon as possible. Sales and account owners should know the status of their campaigns, including why they might be struggling and what solutions are being implemented. This is the only way to help them properly manage the expectations of their clients.
The Future of Data is Collaborative
The vast complexity of the systems that underlie ad delivery, tracking, and reporting represents one of the greatest obstacles to developing a process that promotes communication and collaboration within your organization. The solution? Intelligent, nuanced data sharing. Data informs daily and long-term strategic decisions and data collaboration can transform the way you do business. The key here is considering your company's unique needs and processes. How are you collecting, organizing, and distributing your data? Are your teams regularly communicating and sharing insights based on their interpretations of the data?
Both sales and operations need access to all relevant data, often from a variety of sources, blended into holistic insights. The workflows should overlap with documented hand-off points in the pipeline that will streamline daily processes and fuel data-driven business decisions.
At Ad-Juster, we are embracing 2018 as the year of data collaboration between publisher teams. The days of data silos are behind us and a new dawn of collaboration tools are on the way.