A Guide to Ad Operations for Publishers

February 16, 2021

What is Digital Ad Operations?

Digital Ad Operations is a broad term which encompasses all systems that enable you to establish, plan, execute and improve ad campaigns. Generally, an Ad Operations team is responsible for managing and delivering digital adverts using different platforms, such as ad exchanges, ad networks, ad servers, DMPs and SSPs.

From establishing floodlights to developing triggers for Google Tag Manager, ad operations teams collaborate together with publishers or marketers, depending on which side you work in, to manage advertisements. The main task of ad operations is to generate the maximum potential ad revenue without hindering user experience.

There are a number of ways to achieve this, whether through private marketplaces, or by establishing direct deals. AdOps teams use a variety of digital marketing techniques such as creating banner ads, incorporating rich media, and optimizing for Google search ads.

Ad ops for publishers

What Does an Ad Operations Team Do?

Ad Operations (Ad Ops) teams have many different roles in their day-to-day job activities. Their duties mainly revolve around the traffic volume and performance of online ads and ad campaigns.

The Ad Operations team makes sure that all aspects and key indicators of an ad are analyzed properly, so that each ad has the best possible chance for success. If you’re a publisher of web content, a competent Ad Operations team will contribute greatly to your business by ensuring the ads you’re investing in are productive in attracting potential customers.

To facilitate this process, Ad Ops teams will monitor their ads round the clock, to ensure that all systems are working as intended, and to make changes if needed.


Venn diagram comparing the roles of the sales team and ad operations team

Key Responsibilities of a Digital Ad Operations Team

Whether your Ad Ops team is going to engage with a single or various accounts, there are a few key responsibilities that all Ad Ops professionals have to keep in mind. These include trafficking, scheduling, campaign optimization, demand management, and yield management.


The trafficking process requires an ad trafficker to run an ad campaign with the aid of an ad server. Trafficking for online ads consists of tracking and delivering ads across multiple ad exchanges, monitoring third-party ad tags from various vendors, and fixing any technical problems that stops them from completing the task as well.


All competent Ad Ops teams recognize the importance of an effective schedule for online ads. Posting an online ad, for example, at a particular time of the day when your target demographic is most likely to engage with it, is the name of the game here.

Another aspect that Ad Ops professionals have to consider when scheduling ads are special occasions, holidays, and other seasonal events which can be leveraged in advertising campaigns as well.


To ensure your ad campaign has the best chance of success, Ad Ops teams work to optimize your ads, so that they can draw the most attention from your potential customers.

This includes checking your ad’s content for fulfilling SEO requirements, as well as deciding where to place the ads. All of these elements will impact the cost-per-click factor, which determines the value an ad is adding to your business.

Demand Management

Demand management is another aspect that Ad Operations teams need to keep in view often, as many large publishers of web content will typically have sizable sales units that are tasked with generating potential sales and other leads for the publisher.

Ad Operations teams play an important role in managing the demand that the sales teams generate, and their duties involve dealing with contractual matters, negotiating on behalf of the publisher, and following up on the agreements to ensure they are being fulfilled.

Yield Management

Yield management requires Ad Operations teams to analyze and streamline all aspects of the ad process to minimize costs and maximize profits. This can include redesigning the layout of a website to make the ad space more prominent to users.

Role of SSPs and DSPs

SSP is short for supply-side platform, and it provides Ad Ops teams with a convenient way to sell their ads to the best ad network without any hassle. Similarly, DSPs, or demand-side platforms perform the same function for ad buyers.

Softwares, Tools and Platforms to Use 

If you want your Ad Ops team to work to their full potential, you need to provide them with a comprehensive toolkit, which will help them maximize revenue for your company via your ad campaigns.

You can choose from a wide selection of platforms and programs to meet your requirements.

HeaderBid Expert

This toolkit is a downloadable Chrome plugin that lets you view the list of header bidding partners engaged on the website page. This will also be utilized to see how much time each partner has to bid for inventory and to incorporate management strategies to maximize this timeframe for effective sales.

Google Publisher Console

The Google Publisher Console toolkit is a Google Ad Manager debug framework that can identify distribution-specific errors by inspecting line items. The audit involves testing on page latency, ad tags, demand efficiency check, and delivery speed.

Video Tag Validators

You need a trustworthy video tag validator to affirm that your video ads run smoothly. For example, this toolkit called the Video VAST/VPAID Tag Validator by Tremor helps you to validate and check the anticipated behavior of a particular ad tag. You can utilize it for various types of video viewers and measure banner sizes to customize a webpage appropriately.

Google VAST Inspector

The Google Video Ad Serving Design Inspector, or VAST Inspector, is a helpful tool that helps you to review your video ads. It helps you to insert a video URL to track the performance of your ad.

HTML Code Cleaner

HTML Code Cleaner is an essential tool for Ad Ops professionals as integrating online ads into a website’s HTML code can detract from the layout and presentation of the website if not careful. You can use a trusted tool such as DirtyMarkUp or HTMLTidy to clean up HTML on your website and make your ads more presentable.

Cross functional teams in ad operations

What are the Basic Steps Required for a Good Campaign?

If you want your Ad Ops campaign to be successful here are the four basic steps you need to follow:

  1. Establish a clear goal
  2. Decide the media channels to publish the campaign
  3. Center the campaign around a singular idea or vision
  4. Gather post-launch feedback and make improvements

In-house Ad Ops vs. Outsourced Ad Ops

In-house Ad Operations consists of a team responsible for the overall inventory of the website or publisher. Many of their strategic objectives and planning processes are formulated to include the site in consideration.

Even so, when it comes to working with other ad platforms, ad exchanges and ad agencies, advertisers end up receiving support from external agencies for Ad Operations as Outsourced Ad Operations sometimes have additional resources to bring advanced tactics to the table. 

For the ideal mix, often several medium and large-sized advertisers may be involved in both in-house and outsourced ad ops. In-house Ad Operations can provide publishers with day-to-day confidence and streamlined processes, while outsourced Ad Operations have the capacity to generate additional revenue by opening the publisher’s doors to stronger demand. 

Websites with large revenue streams can also get frustrated when it comes to handling the consumer base. In such a situation, the publisher may split their traffic between external agencies, which lets them generate their revenue streams efficiently while maximizing each impression.

When Do You Need an Ad Ops Team?

When you have massive amounts of concurrent users and wish to collaborate with numerous demand partners, it's best to get an ad ops team to help you reach the desired goals. Ad ops specialists are adept at handling things for you, so that you don't have to worry about it. You can choose to create your own in-house department or offload it to seasoned project partners.

The preferred option depends on how a publisher operates, as well as other factors like technological limitations, broader company objectives, and market insights and knowledge. Usually, a publisher aiming to improve consumer engagement and produce high-quality content will benefit from collaborating with an ad operations team.

Some advertisers may employ an in-house team to manage programmatic assured campaigns and an outside team to market the remaining inventories on free ad exchanges. 

Wrap Up

In today's world, the advertising industry has shifted its operations towards the digital advertising space which is constantly evolving. Advertisers are now using new ad tech to increase their revenue generation and expanding into new spaces, such as mobile advertising, video advertising, email display adverts, and more. If you're a publisher of online content, you’ll want to consider leveraging ad operations techniques to optimize your ad campaigns for success. 

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