With a projected global ad spend of over $170 billion in 2016, online advertising is a vast industry with thousands of small and big players engaged in business; and developers, ad ops managers, designers, data scientists, marketers, and support teams working overtime to keep the juggernaut of internet ads running.
Equally vast is the jargon that surrounds the ad tech industry; not only are outsiders confused by it, if you were to survey industry professionals, the results would surprise no one—there is a big chasm between how much we think we know and how much we actually do.
Ad-tech is a super nerdy community. They want to speak their own language and it makes them feel smarter, so they teach themselves to speak Klingon, a language that’s a mystery, and nobody’s willing to ask questions as to what they mean.
— Nick Dujnic, LiveIntent’s director of demand generation
SSP? DSP? RTB? CPM? CPC? CPI? Programmatic? Waterfall? Daisy-chaining? Multivariate testing? Native? Omnichannel? LEAN? Header bidding? It’s enough to confuse anyone.
How about this new one: PGNMA, stands for Please God No More Acronyms.
Jokes aside, though we can’t kill the acronyms, thankfully there are many great blogs, magazines, podcasts, and resources that do a great job of simplifying ad tech.
Here are a few that anyone will find useful and perhaps even necessary as part of being a clued-in member of this community:
Note: Even though this post is written with ad tech and ad ops professionals in mind, these resources are equally beneficial for anyone working in online media or thinking of making a transition.
Often cited as mandatory reading for professionals working in online advertising and for good reason: AdExchanger enables the exchange of ideas between all members of the “ecosystem,” including marketers, agencies, publishers, data providers, advertising and marketing technology companies, analysts, the investment community and the press.
AdExchanger has 208,000 monthly unique visitors, and editorial newsletters with more than 24,000 subscribers. Apart from the main site where they publish posts on advertising, publishing, mobile, data, commerce, investments, agencies, et cetera; they have a resources section where they catalogue longer, topical features such as A Publisher’s Guide To Counter-Ad Blocking Technology, a podcast which features interviews with key figures in advertising, and multiple newsletters.
Note: AdExchanger has a Twitter directory of reporters, bloggers, agencies, ad networks and exchanges, and more who are actively involved in the conversation about ad tech.
Digiday mixes deep industry knowledge and experience with an emphasis on honesty over spin and quality over quantity. They cover topics of interest to online creators including publishing, advertising and digital platform industries with an expertise, depth and a wry tone unparalleled in their beats.
In special interest of people actively working in ad ops and ad tech, Digiday publishes a dedicated section called WTF Ad Tech with an aim to demystify the complex jargon surrounding the industry.
If you’ve ever wondered WTF things like programmatic, real-time bidding, arbitrage, ad injection, deal ID, et cetera really mean… they’ve got you covered.
> Ad Ops Insider Blog
Ad Ops Insider explains the basics of interactive advertising from an operations and technical point-of-view. The goal of the blog is to educate budding ad ops professionals and explain the hows and whys of what happens in the trenches in this ever-changing industry.
Ad Ops Insider is written by Ben Kneen. Ben has worked in the digital advertising space since 2004, and in an Ad Operations role since 2006. He has worked in various yield management, business development, and product management roles at Rodale, WebMD, and PayPal. Currently, he lead the client success team at Yieldex, a publisher analytics and programmatic platform owned by Appnexus.
Ad Ops insider will give you a deeper understanding of the nuts and bolts of everyday ad operations that you may find lacking in some of the other publications focussed on a broader audience.
Ben also created a post about must-know resources for people working in ad ops:
While industry big wigs gravitate toward Twitter, the people in the trenches seem to be moving toward Reddit as a place to connect on specific strategies and more detailed questions that can’t be captured in 140 characters or less.
In fact, I’d say the Ad Ops Subreddit is quickly replacing the Ad Monsters forum as the preferred discussion community, which has suffered under lousy software and too much interaction from vendors in my opinion. While you might see a post every other day on AdMonsters, you’re likely to see a handful every day on Reddit.
You can find people asking technical implementation questions as well as trading tactical strategies with each other, and you’ll find me there too posting under the username @adopsinsider.
> AppNexus Industry Reference
AppNexus is one of the biggest ad exchanges in the world and their industry reference is a vast knowledge base of information that works both as an essential reference and as a learning resource.
You’ll find almost everything you will ever need to know about online advertising and ad trading in this guide such as:
- Ad tech concepts
- How ad trading and ad serving work
- Key industry terms that will help you understand online advertising and ad tech
- Important issues related to online advertising and the web, like privacy and data collection
> Quora Topic Pages
Quora is one of the largest crowdsources knowledge platforms on the internet and they have a few pages dedicated to the world of publishing, online advertising, and ad tech and ad serving technology.
The great about Quora is of course its interactivity.
You can post a question that you have and people actually working in the industry (developers, founders, ad ops professionals…) will respond to your questions; this could work out especially well when you’re working on a unique problem that requires expertise and imagination and cannot be solved with a Google search.
Apart from this, you can always browse the database of existing questions and learn more about the industry. Here are a few pages of special interest to publishers and ad ops professionals:
- Internet Advertising
- Digital Advertising
- Google AdSense
- Ad Networks, Ad Exchanges and Ad Services
- Ad Network and Ad Serving Technology
- Demand Side Platforms and Supply Side Platforms
- Real Time Bidding
> AdTech Weekly Newsletter
Finding information is hard, how about letting the information come to you instead?
AdTech Weekly is a curated newsletter full of interesting and relevant links from around the advertising technology sphere. No matter how smart algorithms have become, they still can’t match the power of humans curation.
The best part? All their earlier archives are available on the website and you can browse through all the things on a Sunday and get up to speed with the latest in the ad tech space (…alright, maybe more than just one Sunday).
By the way, while AdTech Weekly is a curated newsletter-only service, most publications mentioned in this article too have their own newsletters that you should consider subscribing to.
> Google Product Blogs
With its entire suite of ad products for small, medium and enterprise publishers, Google has been the undisputed industry leader of the online advertising space for well over a decade now.
Their four blogs Search Blog, Inside AdSense , Analytics Blog and DoubleClick Publisher Blog cover information and updates about their mostly widely used products, which are Search, Google AdSense, Google Analytics, DoubleClick AdExchange (AdX), and DoubleClick for Publishers (DFP).
Other than product information, all these blogs often publish features of general interest to publishers on topics such as ad optimization, audience, data, analytics, trends, testing, et cetera.
There are also many other learning resources including but not limited to video series and tutorials, eBooks, certificate courses, and user forums. Look around, it’ll be worth your time.
> Thalamus News Aggregator
Thalamus is a real-time news aggregator for the media and ad tech industry. This is great if you’re in a job that requires you to stay on top of industry trends (…or if you just like to keep up).
You can use Thalamus to keep track of the best news sources in advertising, affiliate marketing, marketing, mobile gaming, and technology with an exhaustive list of authoritative industry sources.
If you sign up and create an account, you can save your customised feed once and have your reading list ready when you log back in.
> Selected Ad Tech Podcasts
Tired of reading? No problem: Podcasts are a great way of keeping up with trends in an alternate form that sometimes just feels easier; not to mention you can listen to podcasts while walking around the block or exercising or doing any activity that doesn’t need your full attention.
Here are a few that you should check out:
- The Ad Ops Podcast
- ad:tech on Cranberry.fm
- Ad Some Tech
- PPC Podcast
- NYC Media Lab Podcast
- Verge: What’s Tech?
> Bonus: LiveIntent Videos
Tired of reading and listening? Fine: How about some fun videos that will teach you about concepts like audience extension, viewability, retargeting, machine learning, email lists, and maybe even how to be the Jon Snow of marketers?
Sounds like fun? Well, that was the brief when Nick Dujnic, LiveIntent’s director of demand generation, started producing a weekly video series to make ad tech slightly “more fun” by mixing in some fun, satirical commentary along with the heavier stuff.
The series kicked off two years ago and now has over 11,000 subscribers and counting, it also has the highest engagement among all the other content that LiveIntent publishes, this isn’t to say that their blog and knowledge base aren’t worth checking out though.