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3 Steps to Train an Ad Ops Expert
Or, how to create the best Ad Ops team in the business.
By Will Schultz

September 27, 2018

5 min read
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The Right Foot

Digital advertising is an ever-changing industry with a lot of moving parts. It can be a very intimidating environment for anyone, especially someone new to the field. The key to an effective media or Ad Ops team is good training that gets new hires up to speed as fast as possible.

LumenAd’s Ad Ops team is set up with this in mind. Our structure looks like this:

  • Ad Ops Leads – in charge of making sure campaigns hit their goals. We’ll call them Leads.
  • Ad Ops Coordinators – help the Leads execute the tasks required to make campaigns successful. We’ll call them Coordinators.
  • Senior Ad Ops Coordinator – (that’s me) trains and monitors the performance of Coordinators. We’ll call myself the Trainer.

The ultimate goal is to move Coordinators up to a Lead. I’m in charge of that process, which usually takes a couple months. In that time, the Coordinators shadow Leads, receive intensive mentorship and get closely monitored hands-on training.

The most important period of this process is the first week. I’ve developed three steps that, while executed all throughout the training process, are vital during that first week rush.

 

 

In order for someone to grasp a task, they first need to see it.

  1. Walk someone through the task, step by step.
    The Trainer should demonstrate the task one step at a time. Include all the steps — even the minor ones that are easy to take for granted. Don’t let the Coordinator start doing the task yet. Just have them watch and take notes.
  2. Explain why the task is set up the way it is.
    Answering why they’re doing a task leaves a big impact on the Coordinator. The Trainer needs to explain the importance of each step and how it affects not only the larger task, but the success of the entire campaign.

 

 

Now it’s time for the Coordinator to do the task under the Trainer’s guidance.

  1. Have the Coordinator follow step-by-step instructions.
    The only way for a Coordinator to truly learn is to do the task themselves. Have them go through each step while the Trainer guides and watches closely.
  2. Take it slow.
    Be sure to check in frequently for any questions. The Trainer should reiterate why each step is important as the Coordinator goes about them. There is a ton of information thrown at the Coordinator — repetition is the key to retention.

 

 

This is by far the most important step in the process. Without this step, nothing else matters.

Have the Coordinator work through the task without instruction. The Trainer should still watch closely, but they should not point out mistakes right away. More often than not, the Coordinator will identify their own mistakes if you give them time to do so.

If the Coordinator doesn’t catch their mistake, the Trainer stops the process well before it has the chance to go live. Let the Coordinator know there is something wrong without telling them exactly what it is. They’ll figure it out.

This may take a little while, but this is definitely a “go slow to go fast” sort of thing. In a couple weeks, not only will Coordinators move faster, they’ll fix errors faster (if they make them at all).

Every mistake they make now is one less they’ll make as a Lead. This is another example of our “Break it and Remake” it approach (outlined by Luke here), which is a huge factor in LumenAd’s success overall.

Do not skip this step, no matter how long it takes. It is key to cementing in the nuances of each task.

 

Ongoing: Support Their Growth

Encourage the Coordinator to explore topics they find interesting. Each Ad Ops team member at LumenAd has a specialty they’ve developed. Their expertise is highly valued across the company and it gives them pride in what they do.

One way to go about this is to include Coordinators in complicated problems early on. Having a fresh pair of eyes to look into new aspects of digital advertising can lead to amazing results. We find that Coordinators often also add valuable perspective to old problems, even if they’re not fully trained yet.

 

One thing to keep in mind is that while this process is a lot of work for the Trainer. They need to be patient, understanding and supportive. So take time and move as fast or as slow as required.

A big part of LumenAd’s culture is that we want to do things effectively. A Coordinator’s speed comes later. And when it kicks in, it’s one of my favorite things to watch.

I crafted this process to produce trained and confident Ad Ops team members quickly. These team members have gone on to become Leads who solve some of the most complicated problems in the digital advertising industry.

 

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