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Creating content that connects brands with audiences

Online advertising:
How to succeed in Ad Ops

If you spend any amount of time online, you’ll have noticed an increase in ads on pretty much every website. What’s more, some of those adverts may seem tailored to your interests. Well, that’s probably because they are.

Online advertising continues to grow in stature in 2018. More and more companies are increasing their digital ad budgets to stay ahead of the competition.

So I sat down with ad operations (Ad Ops) superstar Kiren Ghatora to find out more. I wanted to see what all the fuss is about, and explore why a career in digital display advertising promises a very bright future.

The benefits of online advertising

(1) How do you explain the rise of digital advertising in online marketing, and why is it here to stay?

It’s simple really. You have a much more sophisticated way of measuring engagement with online advertising than you do with print advertising.

With digital ads, you can measure click-through rate, impressions, ad clicks, and viewability (how often someone sees your ad based on its positioning on the page – find out more in the below video by MobileAds). How can print advertising compete with that?

(2) What are the main benefits of online advertising?

Besides improved measurement of results, it’s the ability to build a better audience. In print advertising, you would make sure the ad gets published within a magazine or newspaper, but online advertising works a little differently.

You can find your audience online by tracking cookies on your website. You can then segment them further by looking at your website’s analytics. Understanding reactions to past ads lets you group those people that interacted most with the ads. Before you know it, you’ll have built your ideal audience.

Mobile advertising is the future

(3) Digital trends continue to see a shift towards mobile advertising. Why do you think that is?

As our attention spans continue to decrease, the quicker we can give people bursts of information the better. A lot of consumers always have their mobile phone on them. Mobile ads give you a better shot at reaching them in less time than you would have with desktop advertising.

Let’s get technical, technical

(4) What different types of advertising are there?

There are two different types of online advertising: direct and programmatic.

Direct advertising is when you speak to a sales person, discuss the specifics and book an ad. It is a more personal experience that can be made bespoke. It can fit seamlessly into your strategy and help in achieving your KPIs.

Programmatic advertising on the other hand is an automated system, which means you have fewer people in the mix. Because the demand and supply are automated through a programmatic vendor, you will reach a larger number of people. This does not necessarily mean you will hit your KPIs.

For more information have a look at the key differences between direct and programmatic advertising.

(5) Are there any legal or compliance issues you need to consider when publishing online ads?

Yes, there are a number of important regulations you have to adhere to, such as the UK’s Business Protection from Misleading Marketing Regulations.

For a comprehensive overview of all regulations in the UK, have a look at the IAB UK’s digital advertising policy and regulation guide.

It’s all about the digital strategy

(6) Do you follow an online advertising strategy?

Of course. You should always have an online advertising strategy. What’s the point of doing something if you don’t know why you’re doing it? A strategy will help you analyse your audience, set your goals and find the best ways to reach your KPIs.

Here is a good resource if you’re crafting a digital advertising plan.

How to succeed in Ad Ops

(7) Why are Ad Ops executives in demand at the moment?

I think the answer comes down to basic supply and demand.

The demand for digital advertising continues to grow, but the supply of Ad Ops executives hasn’t quite caught up yet. This is because a career in digital display advertising is something considered to be fairly new.

What’s more, while you might learn elements of it at school, you cannot do a degree in it (just yet). Most people learn the skills and tools needed on the job, but because technology is forever changing, it’s imperative that you have a flexible approach and can stay on top of it all.

(8) The million-dollar question: how do you become an Ad Ops executive and what skills do you need?

There is no set career path at this point. I personally started as a Campaign Planner and then worked my way up from there. If you’re starting out from scratch, I’d say soft skills are more important than technical skills, as those can be taught on the job.

To become an Ad Ops executive you need to have excellent organisational and time-management skills, the ability to work well under pressure, and the ability to communicate with a range of different internal and external stakeholders. That last skill is particularly important because on a weekly basis I work with our internal sales and editorial teams, as well as external creative agencies, designers and clients.

If you want to be one step ahead, the more technical skills you can provide the better. These include ad server knowledge such as Google’s Double Click for Publishers (DFP), an understanding of online advertising tools (such as Moat Analytics) to measure viewability, and an acquaintance with HTML and CSS (although this depends on the role).

(9) What advice would you give to someone looking to start their career in digital display advertising?

Be proactive.Try to learn as many of the above technical skills as you can in your own time.

Even if you have no prior experience in Ad Ops, showing the interviewers that you are keen to learn and have the right mindset might just be what differentiates you from the other candidates and gets you the job.

Here are some educational links to get you started:

Online advertising: follow the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) UK’s YouTube Channel for some educational videos such as their Guide to Digital Display Advertising

Double Click for Publishers (DFP): enroll to Google’s Publisher University (have a look at the blog post Have you been to Publisher University? for more information on what you’ll learn)

HTML and CSS: learn to code for free at Codecademy

How to advertise your business online  

If you’re now wondering how to advertise your business online, you’re in luck. It’s one of our specialisms here at Caspian Media.

Whether you’re interested in running direct display ads across our private equity and SME websites Real Deals, Real Business and Business Advice, or are keen to be featured in bespoke content, we’re more than happy to find a solution that works best for you.

For a full list of our online services, have a look at our commercial opportunities or get in touch with our Commercial Head Gurbir Phull.

You can also find out more about our media and the range of audiences we reach.

Learn about digital marketing

If you’re keen to learn more about other digital channels, we’ve recently published a beginner’s guide to content and digital marketing.

Best of all, it’s completely free. Why not have a look?

Learn more about digital marketing and content marketing with our free ebook


By Estelle Schnyder, Digital Marketing and Social Media Executive