The pandemic and great resignation have increased pressure on every people-based industry, and managed service offerings for advertising platforms are no exception. But anyone with industry experience knows that managed service providers have struggled with efficiency since before the pandemic. Why?
There is no reason that in-house or outside managed service partners should struggle with capacity, service levels, and product line expansion. Yet this is a common challenge.
In decades working with ad platforms to optimize operations and generate better results for clients, I have seen that managed service providers often over-index on complexity, succumbing to demands for the latest tool or more granular audience segments when sticking to proven processes and simpler campaigns would yield stronger and more efficient results.
Three ways managed service providers can overcome the risks of gratuitous complexity are better organizing teams, simplifying sales offerings and campaigns, and avoiding unnecessary changes. Here’s what executing on each of those three tactics entails.
Build teams around client success, not short-term deals
One tension in the org chart that undermines the efficiency of managed service providers is between sales and operations teams. We all know the story. The sales team goes out and tells prospective clients the product can deliver for every niche use case they desire. Ad ops is focused on efficiency and the possible with perhaps less attention to emerging needs. There is a happy medium here, but too much focus on either team’s natural incentives undermines the organization’s overall ability to deliver.
The same problem can occur on the ad platform side. Tech-led organizations sometimes focus on delivering platforms with all the imaginable bells and whistles. Product-led organizations focus on delivering what the client wants without optimizing for technical possibilities and limitations. The tech-centric case can lead to complex platforms that clients regard as unusable, while the product-centric case can deliver a platform that does not deliver on product’s vision because it hasn’t been designed with technical realities in mind.
And this is where the answer lies. Managed service providers can better perform if they take solving the client’s needs in the simplest possible way as their north star. That imperative supersedes organizational issues and allows teams to converge on serving the customer. For example, sales teams do not sell promises on which operations cannot deliver. The ops team stays close to sales to understand client desires. Managed service providers should work with sales and operations under the same roof to foster collaboration, not competition. And simplicity should always rule the day when providers are considering adding extra functionality that may not drive results.
Simplify sales offerings and campaigns
Another area where perfection is the enemy of the good is sales offerings. We are living in the age of the 360-degree customer view as well as constant technical innovation. Accordingly, clients often come to ad platforms asking for extremely narrow customer segmentation capacities or fresh tools, and sales teams eager to close a deal may offer capacities that are not worth their ROI. Similarly, managed service providers check every available box in the DSP: adding channels when they do not need them, letting customers customize superfluous features, dynamic creative, third-party verification, and more — when none of these additional complexities moves the needle for the client.
Here, it is helpful to recall the famous 80/20 rule. Something like eighty percent of advertising-driven results likely come from core product offerings or, in the realm of targeting, from commonly sought audiences. Platforms that try to pursue ever finer levels of granularity in audience targeting or each shiny new tool or feature will likely find that the ROI does not justify the expense. In fact, adding complexities can undermine the product by slowing down campaigns without generating better results.
It is up to managed service providers to communicate this to clients — to sell and deliver real results and actionable intelligence, not maximally ‘optimized’ campaigns whose business value does not justify their cost or inefficiency.
Avoid unnecessary retooling and product revamps
Another area where managed service providers foster inefficiency is unnecessary retooling and product revamps. To avoid inessential changes that provide the illusion of nimble innovation but actually undermine agility, managed service providers should beware frequent product updates, which have hidden costs and lead to poor process hygiene. The key here is to avoid reinventing a product due to changing requests from the marketplace. Adapt when necessary, yes, but also educate clients about what works and make the case for proven processes.
Similarly, fight the urge to succumb to constant retraining on new tools. Perpetually turning over resources to learn new tools freezes teams in training mode, preventing them from optimizing tools they have already learned to use well to drive results.
Managed service providers have a key role to play in a complex ad platform ecosystem where skilled hands are required to get the job done. But there is no reason such providers should be taking two weeks to launch new campaigns. By simplifying processes and sticking with what works, providers can supply a better service — which is what ad platforms bring them in to accomplish in the first place, right?