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Saturday, April 18, 2009

Ad Operations - Our Industry's Connective Tissue

Last week I attended the Leadership Forum run by AdMonsters, the association dedicated to online advertising operations and technology. As is AdMonsters MO for these kinds of things, the Forum was attended by a pretty small and senior group. There was good representation from around the ecosystem, including publishers (e.g CNN, NY & Washington Times, MTV, Gawker, YouTube, Time, Inc.) top tier agencies (e.g. MediaVest, Razorfish, Universal McCann), Networks (e.g. Platform-A, Undertone Networks) as well as some of the usual, appreciated suspects in the 3rd party/sponsor set (e.g. Google/DoubleClick, BurstMedia).

I'm no stranger to the operations world and I was blown away by this Forum.

The deep dive I took re-impressed upon me the importance of operations work - here's the key: These people exist across the entire online marketing and advertising ecosystem (publishers, agencies, networks, 3rd parties). Throughout the day, I kept wishing that C-level executives on all sides could listen to the dialog. Understanding and improving the connective tissue of operations is critical to elevating our entire industry - and key to diminishing the pain in all of our professional lives.

I tuned in and chimed in most when talk turned to process - and there was a lot of it. Themes common to the plight of PM's emerged: need for better communication, collaboration, documentation and tools. The most important area for improvement I heard about was to get the ops folks upstream (themes near and dear to my heart see previous posts: The Best Predictor of Project Outcome - Project Initiation & Project Management Success - Where's the Evidence?!

I know it's scary to peer under the hood and see some of the dirty machinery, but it's a necessity. Support of operations staff by bringing them into the conversation early, so they can participate in defining execution and innovation strategies, rather than being relegated to playing defense, will yield benefits for all.

Do yourself and your teams a favor. Connect with the people in your organizations responsible for operations and learn about and support groups like AdMonsters. In addition to the Leadership Forums, AdMonsters runs conferences for junior team members that are invaluable. The next one in the US, Ad Ops 360°, will be held in New York in May. I hope that AdMonsters gets around to an executive conference or forum soon.

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