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#WomensMonth: The automation of ad ops – why it has become essential

With the rapid growth of digital ad sales and the ever-increasing range of products on offer, the manual process of campaign management has become, well, complex. It was becoming clear that we had to find a way to offer a more sophisticated tool that would equip our sales, ops and business intelligence teams to manage multifaceted campaigns more effectively.

Farah Thompson

Farah Thompson

This is not a new train of thought. Globally, ad ops has become increasingly automated in order to deal with growing man-hours linked to the increasing complexity of orders. In South Africa, in many ways, digital advertising is still finding its feet especially in terms of budget allocation. So, our mandate was to find an innovative way to keep operations, sales and business intelligence costs down, while still catering for massive future growth. 

Enter Apollo, which earlier this year won a Bronze Craft: Ad Ops Bookmark Award. Apollo automates, centralises and structures our ad sales process. The system allows us to create a ‘single version of the truth’ for leads, opportunities, orders, inventory management, the insertion of trafficking progress and revenue information. To do this we custom built a cloud-based proprietary Order Management System (OMS) that is integrated with our Microsoft CRM system, ad server (Google Double Click for Publishers) and our financial system (SAP).

The system is not execution specific and has effectively delivered on everything from native campaigns to sponsorship, social media and rich media.

Through Apollo we have reduced the process from 16 steps down to four. Which is significant when you realise that the majority of energy and budget should be going into strategy, content and tech, with what drives the campaign given a smaller focus (even though it is an essential part of the mix). Due to the time we freed up, the team was able to focus on delivering against key client KPIs, more insightful reporting and building those all-important client relationships.

But as ad tech evolves and brands become more demanding of highly sophisticated results, ad ops teams are becoming increasingly part of the strategy behind a campaign. Meaning we should be working with sales and business intelligence to deliver complicated and highly targeted data sets and audience segments – which are used for targeting and retargeting. Even to the point of helping them create multiple buckets of users, each targeted with different and specific creative messaging across numerous platforms.

More and more, ops needs to be able to align the tech, the insights, the creative, brand objectives and the channels. In order for this to work, there has to be a more seamless connection between ops, sales and business intelligence.

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