Interview with Ad.Product Member Marc Heller

Jane O'Hara
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One of my favorite things about the Ad.Product community is the ability to connect with members across the ad tech spectrum.

Ad.Product is catered to helping publishers build innovative ad platforms - and part of that revolves around the ad set-up, creation, and management process - also known as "ad operations" or "ad ops".

My recent interview with Marc Heller, a community member and ad ops pro in New York City, offers insights as you design your ad platform with ad ops in mind.


"Ad ops brings the company strategy to life - plans are only good when they are executed well. Like a cake, you have to bake it the right way."
Marc Heller

As an ad operations manager, do you decide where to allocate marketing spend, or is your role more focused on ensuring campaigns get set up?

My focus is setting up and optimizing campaigns with respective ad platforms.

What’s the greatest misconception about ad ops?

From my point of view, too many folks think ad ops is easy and that it can be outsourced. Beyond the data entry, however, outsourcing ad ops to fix issues can take longer than needed, because following an issue through to completion requires effort and creativity. For me, outsourcing creates a negative workflow and looks good only on paper.

Ad ops brings the company strategy to life - plans are only good when they are executed well. Like a cake, you have to bake it the right way.

What do you look for in an ad product?

I look for the following:

  • What can it do?
  • Can it truly do what it promises?
  • What can’t it do?
  • Does the good outweigh the bad - or will it require constant activation attention for accurate reporting?

What’s your experience working with DSPs? Do you generally work with one or multiple?

I have worked with multiple DSPs. The main thing for me is the "cache" setting and ensuring the DSP is hitting users correctly (as without a cache, reporting will be off). From an asset standpoint, it can also be tough to see which tags won’t work in certain DSPs.

How important is reporting to you?

Reporting is everything - everyone has their own source of truth; I try and get to the deepest overview by looking into log-level data and see if there are any red flags.

What advice would you offer to publishers looking to build their own ad products?

Make sure it complies with GDPR/CCPA - and focus on mobile in-app and streaming/audio. For the strongest recommendation, I would lean on video, as it is not going anywhere.

How have the CCPA and GDPR - and the greater focus on PII - impacted your work? Did you stop working with any partners because of this?

At this point - since the laws are changing frequently - I think all partners can do is provide privacy documentation when asked. For PII, I always ask partners for data to see if any PII is coming through.

Ultimately, though, legal questions shouldn’t be the realm of ad ops. To date we have not ended spend on successful platforms in response to privacy laws.

You previously worked in event operations for a sports stadium. How does that work compare to ad ops?

There are a lot of similarities:

  • You are always up against a clock no matter how big the KPI or deadline
  • You are managing inventory and optimizing set-ups on a daily basis - not just in emergency situations
  • Thorough analysis is always needed, like:
    • Where can you get short-term wins?
    • Where can you get long-term gains?
    • Is it actually worth it?
    • Can it be sustained?
    • How will this affect my current resources?
    • Will a similar process be needed in the future?

To sum it up, ad ops keeps the organization running smoothly, and it’s your job to ensure the process does not die.

The main goal is to provide "operational consistency” - there has to be an order of operations and a process that follows.

Anything else you’d like to share?

I would love to find a mentor here in NYC.

Marc Heller is an ad ops professional - and a member of the Ad.Product community.

You can learn more about Marc’s work - and offer to be a mentor - on his website.

Many thanks to Mark for sharing his time and perspective.

Ready to share yours? We’d love to feature you in an upcoming interview! Join the discussion and share your interest.

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Jane O'Hara

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