Ad Ops is the most important part of your Digital Strategy and don’t be’s hard.

This past month I have spent more time solving for Ad Operations failure than any other piece of work in the digital ecosystem.  Three projects – none of the teams have managed to set themselves up for measurement success.  Why? Various reasons  and none need to have gotten to crisis mode had people taken a moment to learn how to get the answers they want out of their data.  You may recognize your organization in one of them


Case 1.

Fear. Uneducated development and strategy team. Silo’d Operations. Lack of leadership supporting the agenda and empowering other team members. Poor planning and poor response. Despite one year of dialog about the needs an ill equipped team failed in execution and when everyone started asking questions about performance that could not be answered – ad operations challenges were escalated. Solos finally broken down and four solid days of work trying to cram what should have taken place as systemic logical set up of tagging acros three sites in order to get leadership their data.

Lesson: Trust the nerds at the bottom of the food chain. That guy maybe someone you barely know or engage with – but if he is telling you that anything analytics wise is in jeopardy? Listen. You can’t ignore your team when they tell you they can’t get movement on issues that are too complex for you to understand. Just move the roadblocks if you want accurate data and don’t wait until it’s a crisis. Trust that the programmers know more than you do and that is why they are there. Don’t give development teams the power to say no to marketing’s requests. If you are going to end up down the hall asking what works and what doesn’t you better hope that the dev team has been taking direction from marketing and not being a roadblock  it’s not marketing’s fault that you don’t have data – it’s IT and their usual conservative viewpoint around “marketing “people “touching code”.


Case 2.

Denial. This client has let the wily world of websites just grow and grow and grow without any thought to efficiency. Acquisitons and mergers have created a tangle of systems and not one single effort was made to create continuity that would allow the organization to analyce the data that is used by modern organizations to measure consumer response. Here comes corporate trying to understand what they’ve got in terms of traffic and engagement. And they’ve got nothing. Not a single person in the organization knows about tagging up sites for google analytics. Minimal work has been executed by agencies and its splintered. What’s the outcome? A huge task to clean up what’s there and to figure out some semblance of order. No benchmarks to judge against and a whole lotta “well how much will we save?” Questions with any data to project the answers.

Lesson: financials aren’t the only numbers you should be paying attention to as a leader of your organization. Financials are impacted by expenditures in digital and your marketing digital expenditures are going to be more than your IT Dept. don’t bury your head in the bottom line. Understand what gets you there. Learn about other data points. Learn about how you can track that data and help your team get there. If you need to backtrack? Clean up? Get some outside help and get it fast. There isn’t a brand manager alive who is going to stop their day to day and think about the bigger picture outside their brand. Help them help you. And get ready. It’s messy. But it’s the new datasets that matter when you’re trying to take a long view on infrastructure and staffing

3. Blind Faith

This client thought that they were getting data. Thought that the agency was taking care of things. Even though they don’t have a strategy for data collection and are not being agile in their approach. They thought – we are getting reports. We know how much traffic our campaigns drive. But digging deeper they realized there wasn’t data of what drove the traffic. No data on who makes up the traffic so perhaps they could get more traffic. Nobody in the organization challenging the agency and probing them on the data. People wandering about saying – well we got more followers this week and every week. Somethings going right.

Lesson: Educate yourself on what data matters. If your job is to help cut costs the only way you’re going to understand what’s valuable and what’s driving sales is to tag the bejeezus out of all your properties, get a good attribution system and pull some analysts out of the finance dept and sick them on the media data. Don’t have blind faith in the people outside your organization. They don’t have a full view into your business and they won’t have all the answers for you. You’ve got to move to be a little more self reliant these days.