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Programmatic May Be Hot, but Don’t Forget the Ad Operations Behind the Scenes

by Michael Palmer
June 17, 2015

The whole industry is buzzing about programmatic advertising, to the point where it feels like every article written includes the term. Here’s a quick look at the growth of search terms for programmatic advertising since 2013: 

Data Source: Google Trends (

I have no doubt that throughout 2015 this buzz will continue to grow, and more and more advertising dollars will be managed accordingly.

The industry is also eager for more ways to intelligently buy an audience, beyond just age and gender demographics. Addressable advertising creates better targeting opportunities, and will create the need to tailor the creative for a more specific audience. 

While these buzzwords are gathering more strength, very few people seem to consider how the ad operations teams at the agencies and creative shops are managing to keep up with this increasingly automated world. A world where buying and selling is supposed to be much faster and more complex, where advertisers need to better target the right audiences to increase their ROI, and where creative messages should be tailored to more targeted audiences (which requires managing many more versions).  More automation provides more opportunities, but it also creates more pressure.

The current traffic and ad delivery workflow relies on emails, phone calls, and faxes to share key information, with a lot of rekeying involved.  Continuing this process guarantees ad ops will not be able to keep pace. It’s understandable why everyone thinks technology will automate all manual processes, but it’s critical to still have people managing these increasingly complex workflows. You can buy as automated as you like, create very targeted creatives, but if it doesn’t get to the right place at the right time, all the upside will be lost.