Publisher Sales Vs. Publisher Operations.. What is the Difference?

Programmatic Ad Network Roles: Publisher Sales Vs. Pub Ops

If you work at a programmatic ad network on the supply side of the business model you most likely fall under two sub divisions of your work group: publisher sales, or publisher operations. While both roles have some overlap there are fundamental differences in the two disciplines in the daily work flow of an account manager and a sales manager.  Ideally both of these employees will work together to source out new publishers and opportunities, get an IO signed, get a publisher onboarded into the ad network and being monetizing their ad inventory, programmatically. The digital advertising landscape has evolved since it began since publishers started selling impressions to advertisers so it takes experienced and knowledgeable salespeople and account managers to bring optimal value to the publisher and sustain a long lasting mutual beneficial relationship. here are the differences in sales vs operations in a digital ad network.

Publisher Sales

Publisher Sales in this stage of the digital ad industry are sometimes similar to those annoying cold callers that were ever so prevalent in the glorious 90’s. There are millions of websites on the internet and only a select few individuals at each ad network manually soliciting them day after day month after month, year after year until they will give the ad network a test to see if they can generate high CPM’s, pay on time and provide good ad quality during all four financial quarters when advertiser demand budget’s tend to be stonger in Q3 and Q4 and have smaller budgets in the first two quarters. The tools of the trade for publisher sales consist of 2 main pieces of technology:

  1. Web information research tools – As I said before there are millions of websites on the internet so how do you know which one to media buy on? There are web information companies such as Similarweb and Alexa that provided accurate and up to date stats about how a website is ranked and how they are generating traffic. It is very important for publisher sales to build their opportunity lists using these tools to go after the most popular and valuable websites. It is important to note that a better strategy for publisher sales is to go after a high volume of  smaller sites then larger sites who are take a great deal of time to begin to buy on and are sometimes difficult to work with.

SimilarWeb and Publisher Sales

Screenshot of Similar web’s traffic source identification aspect.

       2. CRM System – It is essential for pub sales to track their opportunities and build a large pipeline of prospects. Some roles require the employee to solicit over 50 brand new publishers a day. This can be a daunting task, but with a sharp internal tracking system like netsuite or salesforce, a sales person will know exactly where business stands on each publisher they are trying to close a deal with or are already working with. Once an IO is signed, it is in the publisher operations groups hands and most likely Publisher Development Manager to set up the technical aspects of the buy and make sure the publisher is happy with the new ad network they are working with.

Pub Ops

Publisher Operations is the group that onboards and grows new and existing accounts that are closed by the publisher sales team. They are masters of their technology platforms/stacks and build the bones of the account according to specifications in terms of CPM’s, floor prices, ad quality guidelines and advertiser or brand blocks. They are the ones that issue tags to the publisher, make sure they are implemented correctly and sending a healthy amount of daily impressions. Publisher sales managers are responsible for growing the account and identifying and executing on new opportunities they research to close new deals provide incremental value for their publishers. In the end of the day, if the publisher is making alot of money, the ad network will see more volume and in term generate profit for the company. If pub ops is doing their job correctly, the publisher will be open to testing new ad units such as rich media sliders or pop ups/unders. Publisher operations managers usually have revenue and operational goals that they must execute upon each quarter.

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