Let’s face it: managing digital ad operations isn’t easy. In our previous article, we dealt with challenges to ad sales efficiency but efficiency at an operational level requires the careful balancing of many different departments and relationships with advertisers and agencies, leaving you with a situation in which one small move may tip the scales.
These steps can help you gain better control of your digital ad sales, offering an efficient way to keep up with the current complexity of programmatic advertising, multiple demand sources, and many ad tech stack components.
1. Reduce Repetition with Artificial Intelligence
Artificial intelligence, or AI, sounds like some kind of sophisticated robotic technology, but in reality, AI is used quite regularly in ad sales. International consultant Bernard Marr tells Forbes that AI can be used to help orders and sales reps manage data and make the right decisions, filling the gaps with information to create a cohesive, complete picture.
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With the capacity to leverage all available data, AI allows the opportunity to innovate and reduce churn, improving upselling opportunities and keeping customers engaged.
2. Consolidate Reports Across Systems
Digital ad sales often include multiple systems that don’t necessarily talk to one another. With the proper approach and the right tools, account managers can streamline this process, utilizing a consolidated method to inventory fulfilment or revenue reporting that offers insights which are otherwise unavailable to the entire ad operations team.
A better way is to take a 360ª view of reports available in real time, making it easier – and better! – for customers, from quote to cash, reducing time in everything from processing information to explaining it.
3. Establish the Right Priorities
A lot goes into managing the digital ad sales process, so it’s normal to let priorities fall by the wayside. Unfortunately, this can allow the quality of work from operations, sales, and finance to slide, compromising customer strategies.
To best prioritize the critical aspects of each media campaign, it’s important to understand where sales and operations teams come together:
- Operations teams are analytical and technical, while sales teams are relationship-centric
- An approach to management that can’t marry these different facets of the process – or who lets little repetitive tasks stand in the way of doing so, is unlikely to see success.
4. Understand the Back End of Technology
For those without technology backgrounds, the ad tech environment can seem overwhelming and many teams prefer to stay on the surface, ignoring learning in depth about it in favor of what is easily comprehensible:
- The entire architecture is complex
- The details behind ad servers and exchanges connections are complicated
- The different paths to revenue are hard to grasp
However, in moving your digital media business forward, a simple understanding isn’t enough. It’s important for all team members to be aware of the ins and outs of technology as it pertains to ad sales dynamics behind exchange bidding and ad targeting.
Without doing so, cross-collaboration is virtually impossible, hindering your team’s ability to work to their full potential.
5. Stay Accountable
When it comes to customer relationships, accountability matters, especially with challenges such as GDPR compliance and the threats of ad fraud. Leading publishers in the industry stand out because they make an effort to be transparent in their relationships with advertisers and agencies, offering a level of trust and reliability others can’t match. To do this, it’s important to consider a better digital strategy.
According to Deloitte, with an improved approach to methodology with accountability in mind, teams are able to:
- Better control both native and programmatic inventory
- Start more conversations
- Engage prospects in more interactive, innovative ways
6. Manage your Team’s Strengths
The behind the scenes process of digital ad sales is made up of many moving parts and pieces, and effective use of strategic management means understanding the benefits each department has to offer as well as identifying possible room for improvement.
In order to extract the most value out of sales, operations, financial and tech teams, collaboration and communication are essential for a competitive advantage. In encouraging teams to open up about ideas and issues, it’s easier to see where the value lies and how to make the most of individual talents and opportunities.
7. Control Dynamic Assets
Dynamic pricing can be a major advantage in ad sales, provided your order management system shows agencies and advertisers the return on investment of bidding for different values depending on rules and targets. Properly displaying available opportunities in a dynamic digital media campaign isn’t necessarily simple.
Taking this level of control requires a deep understanding of the tools available through your OMS. With the added flexibility brought on by using multiple advertising servers combined with the scenarios that AI can predict on a campaign, it’s possible to control regular ad fluctuations rather than being controlled by them.
8. Connect Digital Inventory and Demand Sources
There’s no room for a generic SaaS integration in the digital ad operations industry. Instead, the market encourages custom adaptions, offering a way to create a unique working and management environment that mirrors advertising goals, challenges, and workflows.
To do this, it’s important to correctly connect all relevant data points and available assets from enterprise managers and billing applications, to ensure you get exactly what you need out of your software – not just the picture your CRM supplier claims is best for other industries.
This also means reducing the degree of separations between the components in your ad stack, improving the relationship between publisher and advertiser to bring together data, inventory, content, and measurement tools.
9. Keep Customer Presentations Short and Sweet
While it’s compelling to present customers with every last detail, try to resist. Consolidating customer data via a single view solution can keep relevant information readily available and easy to consume, according to the International News Media Association (INMA).
This cuts down on manual work, automating the solution and offering value to customers without wasting time or complicating your presentations. Think about the data elements that are absolutely necessary, and bridge from there to create an impact.
10. Prepare to Scale
Your operations may be suitable now, but what does the future have in store? Don’t just think a year ahead, but think several years from now – can your system hold up to what’s to come for digital ad sales?
To be successful, your infrastructure needs to benefit your business as it exists now. The IAB Internet Advertising Revenue Report discusses how to enable advertising scalability with technology. Current advances in technology, like programmatic, big data, predictive analysis, AI, and automation, will only continue to grow in prevalence and importance, so your framework should accommodate the growth of these features in the future.
Regaining Control of your Digital Ad Sales
It’s not easy to get your digital ad sales process under control, but the extra effort is worth it. With these tips, you can pinpoint weak spots and improve management efforts to create a streamlined, efficient, and cohesive end result.