In October last year I made up my mind to make the jump into recruitment. I had long toyed with the idea but had always stopped short of making the leap.
Before joining Zulu Bravo, I was lucky enough to work at PHD as a planner and spent a very happy 2 and a half years there, working with a fantastic team on some great clients. I thoroughly enjoyed my time and learnt a great deal. However like most people, I wanted to see what else was available to me and so, after a short spell with a digital creative agency, I took the plunge into recruitment.
Some people, not all, thought it was a strange decision. After all it’s an industry full of soulless, money grabbing sharks, all the gear, no idea sorts – at least that’s what the stereotype leads you to believe.
However I didn’t make this move with my eyes closed. I was fully aware of how challenging and competitive the job would be. You get knock backs on a daily basis, so to say you need the perseverance of Rocky in Rocky III (his toughest fight in my humble opinion, probably worthy of a new blog altogether) is an understatement.
There were two main reasons why I wanted to become a recruiter, head-hunter, career consultant, take your pick, they all mean the same thing:
1) Help people find a better job and subsequently making someone’s life a little bit better in the process.
2) Remain in the media sector, because let’s be honest, it’s one of the most exciting, fast moving, innovative and challenging industries going.
Prior to recruitment and as I already pointed out, I was lucky enough to work for some great companies, with awesome people who did brilliant work. However the longer my career went on I always felt I was never truly satisfied with my lot and finally gave into my gut and pursued the recruitment route.
5 months on and I am very much enjoying my start to life at Zulu Bravo. As I always suspected the myths of recruiters being a bunch of mercenary types, wide boy Rickys and tantastic Tania’s has been unequivocally proved to be a load of old tripe. Sure like most industries, you’ll always get a bad egg, but the vast majority of people do it right. To put it simply, they are just good people, trying their best to help other fellow good people find a job that will make them more content. Quite simple really.
If you’re happy with your job then great, but if you think your situation could be a bit better, then by all means get in touch for an informal chat and a Capri-Sun on me.
0207 240 2618
What is Ad Operations anyway?
Be honest, how many of you knew what an ad operations candidate did before you got into media – this also includes those of you who are doing the role now? Actually, how many of you honestly know what they do now? When I first got into the media space, I was told that ad ops candidates put the ads online, simple! Having worked on these roles for the last 2 years and read hundreds of specs it seems like a bit of an understatement compared to what actually goes on. So, I thought it was about time I actually found out. Up to now, I’ve been able to speak about roles to candidates at all levels; however, having never worked in this role myself, I wanted to know more than what was on a spec!
I was lucky enough to spend the afternoon with the Ad Operations team at IgnitionOne earlier this month. To be honest, before I went in, I didn’t really know what to expect: was I going to understand anything or was I suddenly going to come out some sort of Sheldon – like ad operations guru?
I began the afternoon with a quick introduction from Derrick Falkner (Head of Ad Operations), who went over the media landscape and where the ad operations role sat within the wider ecosystem. As mentioned previously, I have worked on numerous ad operations roles over the last 2 years and have successfully placed candidates within these positions so would like to think I have a good knowledge of the area. One thing I wanted cleared up was the title situation. I have been presented with specs for Operations Exec/ Managers, Traffickers, Campaign Managers, Ad Operations Execs/ Managers and wanted to know if there was any fundamental differentiating factor that distinguished the titles. Derrick explained that all these titles essentially meant the same thing. A good ad operations candidate needs to be able to do all of the following:
Campaign Management- Devising strategies and trying to get users to convert.
- Using Real Time Bidding to obtain conversions and reduce wastage.
Account Management- Working closely with the sales team and ensuring that the client’s expectations are being managed. Being the technical ‘go to’ person.
Trafficking- Setting up and delivery of campaigns, ensuring they run smoothly as well as optimising.
Analytics- Providing reports on the campaigns and how it has performed.
The Conversion Funnel
Basics done, we then moved on to the technical stuff with diagrams and all! Derrick stressed that if I took anything away from the session it should be this. Below you will see a diagram for The Conversion Funnel- artfully created on Paint by yours truly! ?
The Conversion Funnel is technical term used in e-commerce operations to describe the track a consumer takes through an Internet advertising or search system, navigating an e-commerce website and finally converting to a sale (thank you very much Wikipedia). Essentially, as you move down the funnel, the number of users is reduced, leaving behind those who are more likely to make a conversion eg. buy a product, complete a sign up form etc. The funnel is broken down in to the following stages:
Prospecting- Targeting consumers who are not necessarily aware of the product and introducing them to it. Most probably will not convert straight away, but this prospecting stage is important to add incremental sales further down the line. Large volume of users are targeted.
Lookalike- Targeting users who have displayed similar behaviour to those who have converted in the past.
Context- Again, looking at cookie related behaviour to see any trends forming in the users searches ie. Looking at sites for shoes.
Retargeting- Highly targeted and synced with RTB strategies. At this stage the user is more likely to make a conversion. They may have been on the site previously but didn’t convert, consequently they are retargeted with an ad to encourage them to go back and have a second chance to convert. Volume of users reduced but more targeted at this stage.
So where do the ad ops guys fit in with this? Well, ad operations professionals are present throughout the process by tracking the users and optimising campaigns at each stage to ensure the user converts.
I then sat with the ad operations team, slightly daunting, but I was armed with a good supply of Ben’s Cookies! Fair to say, I won them over!! It was great to see how the team dynamics worked first hand- everyone was really outgoing, friendly and happy. It was definitely far cry from the image of Fry below, but then again it was a Monday and I’m told that Friday’s are usually the day where all hell breaks loose.
I also met with one of the candidates (Chris Blin-Stoyle) who we had placed there last year and it was great to see that he was still very much enjoying his role!
My afternoon at IgnitionOne was extremely useful and definitely helped to develop my knowledge of the operations space. Derrick was extremely helpful in offering some invaluable insight into how he recruits for these role and the advice he would give to anyone looking to move…
Q and A with Derrick Falkner (Ad Operations Director, IgnitionOne)
1. How has ad operations changed over the last 5 years?
Things have moved in a much more analytical direction. Especially in the market we operate in (direct response). The drive for more analytical insights for campaigns is becoming ever more prevalent.
2. How has your criteria for ad ops candidates changed for when you are recruiting?
In direct response to the above, I tend to now look for candidates with analytical experience or maths or related science degrees where analytics formed part of their modules.
3. How will it change in the future?
Great question. RTB is huge nowadays so this is a must have skill for any ad ops candidate and is something I will always look for.
4. What advice would you have for someone who is about to enter a role in ad operations and someone who has 2 years of experience and is potentially looking to move?
For the newbie, I would say go for it. You will learn so much it’s incredible. From adservers, to RTB, to analytics and data insight, video, mobile… the list is endless. Marketers are moving lots of budget to DR campaigns because of the tangible results element these types of campaigns offer (working back to a return on investment).
For the candidate with 2 years’ experience, I would say this is golddust in our industry. Be careful not to rush a move purely on £. There is much more to consider with the most important being ‘how will this move aid me personally with regard to my development’. So in short, seek out other
opportunities if your current role is not giving you what you want but be sure if you do move it’s for the right reasons as highlighted.
What does the future hold?
Having spoken to a number of industry experts, it is clear that the role of an ad operations person has certainly evolved within the industry. A lot of my candidates usually highlight the fact that no one knows that they exist until something is needed or more likely something has gone wrong. However, in an ever changing industry where technology is now the unequivocal core of the media landscape, candidates such as those within ad operations, with the ability to understand and educate on the tech, become pivotal to the success of a business. Consequently, the opportunities for candidates who have developed these skills are extensive: from account management, sales, technical account management, programmatic account management etc. Not only that, the skillset is in high demand across the media ecosystem from premium publishers to agency trading desks and all in between.
So there’s my little take on ad operations. I would love to speak to anyone who would be interested in giving me some more information or interested in discussing new opportunities in further detail. Please feel free to contact me on email@example.com.