Posted on Oct 6, 2023

Mastering Ad Operations: A Comprehensive Guide

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If you try to search for the definition of digital advertising operations on the Internet, you will find multiple different explanations. At the same time, ad ops is crucial for advertisers since it allows revenue generation. 

So, what is ad ops? What are its key aspects, and what practices should you follow? In this article, we will answer these and other questions, so keep reading to learn how to make the most of advertising operations and ensure stable income. 

What is Ad Operations?

Ad ops (also abbreviated as AdOps) refers to digital advertising services managing digital ad sales. Such ads primarily appear on websites as banners but can also occur in other formats, such as video or audio ads on streaming services.

Ad ops professionals are actively involved in preparing and executing advertising campaigns before and after the launch. In other words, these experts support campaign setup, testing, flow, delivery, and omnichannel ad optimization across multiple digital ad mediums and formats (video, native, mobile, desktop, and connected TV). 

To do this, they closely interact with other platforms: DSPs (demand-side platforms), SSPs (supply-side platforms), etc.

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Ad Ops: Key Components and Goals

Now that the basics are clarified, let’s review the core components and objectives of advertising operations.

Campaign traffic

Advertisers keep track of all advertising operations. The traffic manager sets up the campaign according to the most appropriate targeting strategies, performs online ad optimization, and ensures the campaigns are set up correctly to run smoothly. 

Ad ops also helps clients create pixels to track how the audience interacts with creatives. If necessary, troubleshooting is also carried out.


Programmatic helps you automate the buying and selling of ads. In turn, advertising specialists ensure that the campaign is launched on time and promptly delivered to the target audience. For targeting and retargeting users, advertisers can choose certain days: holidays, weekends, and certain times of the day. 

In addition, advertisers know when CPMs (cost per mille, also known as cost per thousand) are higher and lower during the season, so they can use the daily fluctuation of information to optimize client scheduling.


Programmatic ad operations support standard programmatic and direct campaigns (sales without real-time bidding). Ad ops professionals can optimize the campaigns, for instance, to reduce placement (and ad visibility) so that ads are shown to users who are most likely to convert. 

In addition, they tune the campaigns to achieve the desired metrics and performance over the period.

Income generation 

Digital advertising professionals are directly responsible for generating revenue, as they are the ones who run the campaigns behind the scenes. The revenue management and revenue officer look explicitly for these opportunities and facilitate progress in this direction, such as allocating advertising budgets across different ad spaces and placements to generate more revenue. 

Read our article about monetization of programmatic advertising to learn more.

Creation of reports 

Advertisers collect data from their ad server and a third-party server by creating and viewing weekly, monthly, and daily system reports.

Professionals involved in advertising operations understand how to set up a campaign for a client and achieve the desired results using all the features and functionality of an existing advertising stack. 

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Why do Companies Choose to Outsource Digital Ad Operations?

Advertising operations are complex; various studies of the programmatic market regularly show that the main factor hindering the development of the advertising business is the lack of qualified specialists. 

For example, 44% of professionals who already work in online advertising report that they do not understand programmatic and are not familiar with the procedures and processes of digital advertising campaign operations.

It also requires a solid knowledge of digital advertising and software processes, a high level of in-house technical capabilities, and strong, established relationships with advertising providers — publishers and advertisers — and other technology vendors.

Worldwide, only a few media companies are engaged in training software specialists (including advertising). Maintaining and training advertising operations is challenging, as you must have your proprietary advertising technology, training methodology, market knowledge, industry trends, and understanding of business relationships.

Ad Operations Workflow and Best Practices

Outsourcing digital advertising campaign operations is the way to save time and increase the efficiency of your campaigns. However, you may still want to establish an ad ops workflow on your own. If so, the following recommendations will help you, and some will also be useful for outsourcing.

Identify your goals

First of all, you need to define your objectives. These could be driving sales, increasing brand visibility, etc. Keep the goals SMART, which stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. For instance, your goal may be formulated like this: to increase overall sales by 10% within 2 months.

Identifying the goals is crucial since this will allow you (or your outsourced team) to select the right metrics and understand the effectiveness of your campaigns.

Assemble the team

The next step is to assemble your ad ops team. Here are the key roles:

  • An ad operations manager oversees the workflow, manages the resources, plans and manages the campaigns, analyzes their performance, and ensures achieving the objectives;
  • An ad trafficker schedules, implements, tests, and optimizes advertising campaigns, manages ad inventory, and performs troubleshooting;
  • An analyst analyzes the campaigns to optimize targeting and collect valuable insights.

Establish communication protocols

Communication is crucial for reaching your objectives, so you need to do the following:

  • Have regular meetings with your ad ops team to discuss the progress, solve potential challenges, etc. Decide on the frequency and format (online or in-person);
  • Use project management tools to ensure more effective cooperation;
  • Select communication channels and tools. For instance, you can use email for non-urgent matters and Slack for high-priority queries;
  • Create a centralized feedback and reporting system. 

Establish quality control measures

Your ad creatives need to be compliant with industry standards and regulations, so find out which of them are applicable to your campaigns. Then, prepare a set of guidelines for your team. Make sure to stay up to date with regulations, as they may change from time to time.

Besides, decide on the required testing procedures. If you are going to outsource, find out how your ad ops team will test and optimize your ads.

Leverage the technology

Manual ad placement can be effective, but to reach even better results, consider programmatic ad ops. You may also want to use other automation tools to optimize your advertising processes.

Make sure to train your team to use the selected tools and platforms and invest in ongoing training to keep your ad ops specialists updated on emerging trends and practices. 

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Digital Ad Ops Trends and Future Outlook

The evolution of technology has a significant impact on ad operations. Your ad ops specialists need to monitor the trends and adopt them to maximize the effectiveness of your campaigns and remain competitive. Let’s review the key trends shaping advertising operations today.

Programmatic advertising

Programmatic ad buying allows advertisers to allocate resources more effectively and ensure accurate targeting. Instead of placing ads manually, they simply set up the campaign, and the rest is done by the programmatic platform. 

Thanks to automation, advertisers and ad ops professionals can focus on more important tasks while the ads are shown exactly to those users who are most likely to convert. In the modern market, using programmatic platforms in ad ops is virtually a must, as this ensures much more efficient advertising.


To optimize the processes and keep errors to a minimum, ad ops experts can use not only programmatic platforms. Leveraging special tools can help them automate repetitive tasks, for instance, reporting. 

Again, this is the way to free up some time for core tasks.

AI and ML

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) can be used for data analysis to enable predictive analytics and more precise targeting. Besides, these technologies can assist in fraud detection.

Note that AI and ML evolve continuously, so it is crucial for your ad ops team to keep an eye on this evolution.

Cross-platform integration

Modern customers interact with numerous devices, including desktops, smartphones, CTVs, etc. To reach them effectively, ad ops professionals need to integrate advertising campaigns across multiple platforms. 

These are the current trends, and adopting them is essential. However, new tendencies may arise, as well as new gadgets, technologies, etc. For both advertisers and ad ops teams, it is vital to monitor the situation to be able to react promptly. 

Consider SmartHub Your Trusted Partner

With SmartHub, you can easily set up your own white label ad tech platform to ensure precise targeting, prevent fraudulent traffic, and benefit from multiple trading options. 

To help you reach your goals, SmartHub provides both advanced technical support and business advice. However, for some fast-growing companies, this is not enough. Many enterprises do not have the human resources to maintain the efficient work of the white label platform. Therefore, we have improved our service, making it super-customer-centric and all-encompassing.

We launched an outstaffing service for SmartHub white label programmatic platform owners. SmartHub can select and train professionals for you based on your specific requests and requirements. 

Online advertising operations will significantly strengthen your internal team’s capabilities while you focus on making strategic decisions. Also, our digital marketing problem-solving skills and abilities will help your advertising campaigns run correctly, efficiently, and on time.

What is a white label team - by SmartHub

With SmartHub’s outstaffing ad ops specialist, Toucan Ads managed to upscale to 30k QPS within 6 months, increase profits by 4494% in 7 months, and reach payback within 3.5 months. SmartHub trained an employee to work exclusively for Toucan Ads, which is why this collaboration was so effective. You can learn more about this case

Therefore, if you need to optimize your advertising campaigns effectively, increase ROI, and save time, consider using SmartHub’s outstaffing services. 

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To sum up

For advertisers, ad ops is the way to increase revenue; however, understanding it and applying all the essential practices can be challenging, especially when programmatic platforms are involved in the process.

In addition, ad operations require time and money on training, continuous maintenance, optimization, and other processes. Therefore, most businesses prefer to entrust experienced ad ops professionals with these tasks.

On SmartHub, we decided to help our customers and partners who need such assistance. We allow them to outsource specialists from us, whom we select and train for their specific needs.

If you need qualified personnel or assistance with your ad operations or white label platform, feel free to contact our account manager for a free consultation.


What is the role of an ad operations team?
The advertising operations team is responsible for ad trafficking, campaign setup, quality control, inventory management, and performance monitoring. Their primary objective is to ensure ads are delivered effectively and in compliance with industry standards.
What are some common challenges in ad operations, and how can they be overcome?
Common challenges in AdOps include ad fraud, technical issues, and campaign optimization. To prevent fraudulent traffic, you need to use detection tools. Technical challenges can be solved through rigorous testing and regular quality checks. Optimization requires continuous monitoring and data analysis. This way, you will make data-driven decisions and improve your campaigns’ performance.
How does programmatic advertising fit into the ad operations landscape?
Programmatic advertising is a key component of the ad operations landscape since it allows automation of the processes and ensures higher effectiveness of the ads. AdOps teams optimize ad placements, targeting, and budgets using programmatic platforms.
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