Megan Cronje: Ad Ops conference a great course by professionals for professionals

Posted by IAB Australia On October 20, 2014

I think it’s safe to say that the first IAB Australian Digital Ad Ops conference held in the PwC building in Sydney last week was a huge success. The half-day conference, sponsored by Krux and SAS, attracted around 200 of the leading ad ops professionals in Australia and covered a range of topics including digital trends, strategies to drive revenue, IAB workflow and best practices, audience measurement trends and programmatic. As well as this, there were two Q&A panels that explored technology trends and career progression in ops.

The conference kicked off with keynote speaker Jonas Jaanimagi from REA Group. He talked about technological change focussing on three key themes: data (understanding its potential), automation (embracing it so we can get our hands dirty with the interesting things) and attribution (where is the value to the client). A key takeaway from Jonas’ presentation was that you can sit with your competitor and deliver the same value that doesn’t affect business revenue.

Aryeh Sternberg from News Corp explored strategies to drive revenue. He stressed that the way we present information should be in the form of storytelling. When ops are communicating they need to know the outcome that they’re trying to achieve. He made an interesting point that it’s no longer ROI (return on investment) it is now ROO – return on outcome. Ops are in the position to lead and drive those conversations that bring more value. He finished off by saying “… storytelling provides a useful wrapper for the facts because it gives them boundaries and purpose.” I particularly enjoyed the fact that he wore a magicians hat and wand for his entire presentation. What we do is magical – never forget that!

Next up, we were presented with a little 10-minute video that covered the new Ad Ops Workflow and Best Practices. This was very relatable and brought to light some of the everyday issues that all facets of ops face and the best workflow practices around them. The guidelines for Programmatic, Custom and Standard campaigns are aviliable on the IAB website.

Gai Le Roy from IAB gave a very insightful presentation about audience measurement. She talked about why it is important to have audience information to help buyers make informed decisions. A very interesting point she made was that the digital advertising market is worth about $4.4 billion and growing – so huge potential there! It all comes down to the fact that little data makes big data. We need to be able to measure people, not browsers, to be able to compare them across different markets and platforms and position ourselves as an accountable media: We need to be transparent.

The topic of programmatic was covered by Timothy Whitfield from Xaxis. He busted a few myths about programmatic to kick off his presentation. These included that programmatic is not cheap and nasty, it’s not just for direct response campaigns, it is not unsafe for brands, there is access to premium inventory, and it does not have low viewabiltiy. He mentioned that the digital area is growing by 9 percent and the majority of that growth is in programmatic, and it’s growing the fastest. This is something to get excited about.

Technology trends was presented to us from our two key sponsors, Ben Williams from SAS and Pascal Hakim from Krux. Williams touched on data enabling new lines of revenue and finding the correct audience for the correct creative execution with the right message at the right time. He said that audiences want to have their opinions validated and that creative messages should now be about the fact that as a marketer. “I understand you (identity) your needs (motivation) and want to help you (relevant message)”. What does this mean to ops? It means that CPM buys should be performance influenced, there should be testing integrated into the entire process and there should also be multi-step conversion tracking (we don’t care about clicks anymore). It’s about engagement and actions.

Pascal Hakim continued on with this trend to say that we need to get out of the trafficking rut and start talking like a data scientist. Ad Ops has moved from trafficking sponsorships, impressions and clicks to targeting audiences. All things can be fixed with data, and more informed decisions can be made. Ops is at the heart of this, and has the power to influence those decisions.

The Technology trends topic concluded with a panel involving all key speakers. Key themes that came from this panel were the skills that ops are required to have to move forward. These include diversity, the ability to constantly evolve and develop skills and project and time management. Ops individuals need to be efficient and love analytics. They need to be client focused, relevant, curious, good story tellers and problem solvers.

The second panel talked about career progression in ad ops. This was fantastic as it gave everyone who attended the opportunity to ask questions about their future in ops. In short: Do what you love and love what you do. Be proactive and speak up. You are in control of your own success.

To conclude, the conference was great because it was presented by professionals in ad ops to professionals in ad ops. The content was relevant, engaging and thought provoking. I certainly left feeling inspired and excited about the future of ad ops and the role it is plays in digital. The networking component with other professionals in this broad industry was also key to the success of the event. It’s very rare that ops teams around the country are given the opportunity to leave their desk for a few hours to meet and greet their peers, even competitors, and delve into and explore digital trends and topics. We enjoyed a drink together, laughed and got to meet a bunch of people who genuinely do what they love and love what they do.


Megan Cronje in the WA Digital Campaign Manager for REA.

IAB Australia

IAB Australia is the peak trade association for online advertising in Australia. As one of over 43 IAB offices globally and with a rapidly growing membership, the role of the IAB is to support sustainable and diverse investment in digital advertising across all platforms in Australia.