The Checklist Every Ad Ops Manager Needs

If you’re a publisher, or work in media, let me ask you this – have you ever seen a longer list of tasks and responsibilities than that of an Ad Ops team?

As the nuts and bolts that basically bring the whole advertising campaign operation together, whoever’s doing Ad Ops has a (practically) never-ending workflow. Setting up a new campaign (or updating and maintaining an existing one) is a virtual roller coaster – the moment you think the ride is coming to an end, you’re thrown into a loop…


So how does a good Ad Ops pro keep things in check? For starters, they have to be extremely organized and have a clear and pre-defined work process. When you have a routine in place, you’re less likely to miss a step.


With this in mind, here’s the first of our tips for helping Ad Ops pros stay on their toes:

Start with a general breakdown of the entire campaign setup process and create a detailed checklist for each phase; keep in mind that the campaign passes through many hands in the company, from the account manager until the final QA, so make sure that everyone involved knows that if the entire list of a certain phase isn’t met, you can’t proceed to the next phase.

For Example

If you’re a publisher and you received a campaign from an advertiser who’s interested in running on specific branded sites, the account manager will first confirm that this new advertiser is fit to run on your sites, and will start with a brand-loyal/credibility check (“phase 1”); next, the team will move on to check the creative materials (“phase 2”), followed by checking the technical parameters (“phase 3”), and so on – up until the final phases of the campaign launch, which will include going live and seeing that all is running smoothly after the matter.


The first phases in this example add up to what is widely known as the “creative QA” – but since this process is so long and tedious, we recommend breaking it down. So what would these phases entail? And what does a good Ad Ops pro always have to cover in order to get through this creative QA process?


The following are recommended checklists for the first phases of preparing a campaign for launch, up to and including the creative QA process, as per our publishers’ example above.

Phase 1 – Brand-loyalty / credibility check
  • Look at the campaign ads – what are they for? Are they for an actual product/service or are they click bate?
  • Is the product/service/offer relevant to your website’s audience?
  • Are the ads offensive in any way?
  • Is the artwork up to par and in-line with the visual standards of your website?
  • Do the ads contradict your brand or website in any way?
  • Are the ads truthful – do they lead to a relevant landing page that follows through on the campaign’s offer?
  • Are the ads intrusive in any way? Are they flashing or disturbing your website visitors’ experience?
Phase 2 – Creative materials
  • Are the ads provided in the acceptable file formats supported by your ad server?
  • Are the ads dimensions applicable to the ad space on your site?
  • Are the file weights within the allowed upload size limitations?
  • If the campaign includes animated ads – do they stop or do they loop?
  • If the ads have audio – is there a visible volume/mute button?
  • If the ads expand or are dynamic – do they have a clear ‘close’ button?
  • If the ads have a ‘close’ button – is it working?
  • If the ads expand or are dynamic – how/where do they expand on your site? Do they overlap content or interfere with the site’s user experience in any way?
Phase 3 – Technical parameters
  • Do the ads have a reasonable load time? Does it affect the page load in any way?
  • Are all of the correct campaign tags in place? Are they working properly?
  • Are there 3rd party pixels placed in the ads? Are they legitimate? What are their purpose?
  • Do you have all of the pricing, pacing & targeting parameters? Bids, flight dates, geos, etc.?
  • Are the ads viewable properly on different devices/browsers/screen resolutions?


It’s clear to see that this last phase is a bit trickier than the first two, which are mostly Y/N checklists, since some technical parameters may require more in-depth inspection; for example the issue of 3rd party pixels – not all tracking pixels were created equal, some may be legitimately used by media personnel for marketing retargeting efforts or for checking creative performance during A/B testing, but other times these could be hidden malvertising attempts – so the Ad Ops team should always inspect these closely.


All of these tasks

And additional related ones you’d probably have to add to the list if dealing with video ads or certain mobile ads

add up to a lot of work.

Hours of work.

Multiplied by the number of campaigns, multiplied by the number of ads per campaign, multiplied by the different formats of each ad… (Are you getting the picture?)


The life of an Ad Op isn’t easy.

So now that we started you off with our first tip (“go organized phased checklists, go!”) – do you have any words of wisdom of your own to add, that may help all the hard working Ad Ops out there? Let us know in the comments below.

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Eliana is a marketing strategist with a passion for technology and storytelling. Eliana’s work has been featured in places like Slashdot, the RSA conference, and Facebook’s PyTorch publications. You can find more about Eliana on Linkedin.

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