In-house Ad Ops team vs Outsourcing

When it comes to digital media monetization, running efficient and reliable Advertising Operations is an absolute necessity for success. That means quick response times, constant knowledge improvement, bulletproof troubleshooting and (naturally) a steady uplift in ad revenue. Finding such a team, however, can be quite the challenge and it begs a common question – is better to hire or outsource your Ad Ops? Let’s find out. 

Ad Ops outsourcing

We should start by saying that for most publishers, it would come down to resources available and personal preference. As with most things, both ways have their pros and cons, and you should of course think about what makes more sense for your business. Nevertheless, we’re going to go through several points you should consider and hopefully help you understand what both methods have to offer.

Knowledge & Expertise

The world of programmatic monetization is quite complex with a lot of moving parts, so having a team with the right experience and knowledge base is absolutely crucial. Naturally, every individual will have a different skill set so instead of making generalizations, we will rather talk about opportunities. All in all, you can look at it in one of two ways:

In-house specialists will have a better ability to look under the hood of your website and learn how everything works together in greater detail than any outside help. This can be quite valuable in cases where the web property has a wide range of custom features, peculiar user behaviour, large traffic inconsistencies etc. A specialist or team that’s dedicated only to your business at 100% can really shine with on-property analytics and engagement-driven optimizations. 

On the other hand, monetization companies usually manage hundreds if not thousands of web properties, which brings a different kind of benefit. Just having access to performance analytics at a large scale makes a huge difference in itself, not to mention the accumulation of experience in troubleshooting various issues. This allows Ad Ops experts to anticipate and capitalize on industry trends, as well as have a much deeper understanding of individual partner performance due to the large sample size at their disposal. 

Response time & scale

Unless you’re willing to hire a small Ad Ops army, this one goes to outsourcing hands down. When running complex configurations that include multiple bidders, encountering an unexpected problem is only a matter of time. Technical or ad quality issues usually need to be resolved as quickly as possible to mitigate their impact and that requires a lot of manpower. An average-sized internal team is just not going to be able to cope with that and that can easily result in significant revenue losses. In comparison, management companies will typically have an emergency team (quite often around the clock as well) that can respond to such situations immediately. Having that safety net is great for publishers to have a peace of mind, especially when it comes to larger websites where there’s a lot of ad revenue on the line.

AD OPS Costs

Figuring out what’s more efficient can be tricky and without considering all the angles publishers can easily be caught off guard with costs. There are plenty of factors at play but the two most important ones are location and required resources. Hiring full-time employees in the US for example can be quite expensive and what’s more, if you find yourself in the unfortunate situation of declining revenue, there’s really no way to cut those expenses. 

There’s also the dilemma of how many people you should hire. Having a larger team is generally safer and more reliable, but in that case you’re effectively hiring people fully knowing they won’t have that much to do on a daily basis, while you’re still paying them full time. And on the other hand, if you under hire there’s always the risk of not being able to deal with performance slumps in time. 

So, unless you can hire cheaply, outsourcing your Advertising Operations will usually be your best bet. You’ll always have as many people working on your pipeline as the situation demands and you won’t be stuck in long-term contracts either. In addition, with most companies working on a revenue share model, you will only have to pay as your business makes money, which is also a great incentive for the respective team to be proactive. Something you should also consider is that larger agencies usually get preferential rates with mainstream marketplaces, which directly translates to a reduction in costs on your end.

Here are a few situations where outsourcing Ad Ops might not be financially viable:

  • Your monetization setup can be managed by 1-2 people max all year round.
  • Programmatic advertising is not your main source of revenue. 
  • You have access to extremely cheap labour. 
  • You are not eligible to sell inventory on a large number of programmatic marketplaces.

Why not both?

That’s right, hiring your own Ad Ops specialists and outsourcing aren’t mutually exclusive! Loads of publishers never really consider this an option but if done correctly that can in fact be the best way to manage ad sales. 

It comes down to assigning the right projects to the right people for the job and ensuring they’re working as a team. In a best case scenario, this will allow you to get the best of both worlds with almost none of the drawbacks. This model is actually being utilized by many of the top players in the digital publishing industry, so that should tell you something. 

You can keep a small team of in-house experts that will be responsible for high-value opportunities, ad hoc requests and integrations with a high amount of customization required. This includes anything from ongoing direct advertiser campaigns to affiliate deals and sponsorships. You’ll also need someone to manage your agency of choice after all and it’s quite handy when that person is able to speak the same language as they are. 

In the meantime, your outside help can handle day-to-day activities and basically anything that requires a high amount of manual labour, such as openRTB optimizations. Troubleshooting and technical support are also best taken up with a team of industry veterans, as their experience and wide range of skill sets allow for a super quick turnaround and reliable results. 

In summary

If you’ve been following our blog you’ve probably already noticed that we’re not fans of one-size-fits-all solutions. Finding the best way to manage your advertising operations is no exception, but it shouldn’t be that difficult to figure out. For most businesses, we always recommend starting out with outside help, as there’s a lot less commitment involved and you can always hire later if you decide it’s not for you. And if you’ve already got a team on board, it’s not too late to consider the hybrid model. 

Want to know more? Our experts are always happy to help! Feel free to get in touch with us at any time!