About the Series

Welcome to the Ad Operations Build vs. Outsource Series. In this series, we’ve tapped the expertise of our Yield Ops team, which combined have decades of industry experience working within just the teams you’d be considering building yourself.

In today’s entry in the series, we rely on the expertise of SVP of Yield Ops, Scott Schroeder as well as VP of Yield Ops, Myles Engler, both of whom combined have more than two decades of experience in ad tech and more than a decade specifically running yield management teams. Both individuals have been instrumental in building and managing Playwire’s yield operations team.

To get you started, click below to hear Scott's thoughts on what is required in order to build a successful yield ops team, then be sure to dive a little deeper into the full article below.


Are You Ready for Yield Ops?

As a publisher, you have every reason in the world to want to optimize your yield strategy. It increases your ad revenue, which makes more room in the budget for content creation, growth and new hires. Who doesn’t want that?

At some point in their growth trajectory, most publishers do begin to consider yield ops. But when they reach that point, they face a difficult choice: should they build an in-house yield ops team or outsource it?

It’s a tough call, but there is a way to find an answer. In this post, we walk you through what it takes to build a yield ops team and what it looks like to outsource one, as well as how to decide. Read on to learn more.

Playwire does yield ops and a whole lot more for publishers. We bring expertise and convenience to your revenue strategy so you can focus on your content. Want to learn more? Get in touch.

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Building Your Own Yield Ops Team

Want to know what it takes to build your own yield ops team? Here’s the answer: a lot. From assembling team members to making sure you have adequate resources to support them, you’re in for some work if you take this route. Let’s get into a little more detail.

Covering Core Functions

As you start out, you will want to make sure you build a yield ops team that covers three core functions:

  1. Relationship management. This is all about vetting and exploring new partnership opportunities and getting onto more inclusion lists with supply-side platforms (SSPs).
  2. Operational aspects. You need people who understand how the ad server operates, how your tech injects ads on the page and how header bidding is set up for all bidders, among other technical aspects. Without this understanding, your team won’t be able to effectively troubleshoot issues or come up with viable optimization ideas.
  3. Strategic planning. This is the part of yield ops that looks forward. You need people who can see the bigger picture — those that may, for example, see that tweaking a certain optimization strategy could lead to a small short-term loss but a big long-term gain.

These core functions should inform your hiring decisions. You are unlikely to find someone who can truly excel in all three areas, and even if you do, there likely isn’t enough time in the day for one person to handle all of it. Expect multiple hires.

Managing the Team

Do you have the time and management expertise to figure out who your new yield ops team members are and how to position them for excellence? If you build your own team and want it to succeed, you’re going to have to.

The single most important thing you can do to build a successful yield ops team is create an environment that allows for failure. Of course you don’t want the team to fail in the long term, but any good yield ops veteran will tell you that 90% of yield ops ideas won’t work. If your team members feel like they don’t have room to fail, they won’t put forward the 10% of ideas that could really grow your revenue.

Growing Supporting Teams

Yield ops doesn’t exist in a vacuum. You will need supporting teams that will act as resources to your yield ops people. For example, most yield ops professionals aren’t engineers or developers by trade. But they do have to work closely with engineers and developers who know enough to make their ideas a reality.

That means you’re going to have to have a solid team of engineers and developers. Otherwise, your yield ops team can be the best in the world but still fail because they can’t tweak the code to make their ideas come to life.

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Paying for It

There is a pretty big misconception about how much yield ops professionals really cost. If you want a seasoned professional, one that can really affect your bottom line, you’re going to be looking at a pretty large salary.

If you’re willing to make the investment in yield operation pros, that’s great. But keep this in mind: your team will need to increase your revenue by at least as much as you’re paying them for you to break even. Ask yourself whether it’s realistic to expect them to cover their salaries and get your yield to a level that will actually provide some ROI.

Outsourcing Yield Ops

The alternative to building your own yield ops team is outsourcing the work to a partner like Playwire. This usually involves some setup and back and forth with the provider, and then they should take it and run with it. 

You will likely pay the partner with revenue share, meaning you pay them a portion of the extra revenue they get for you.

Build vs. Outsource a Yield Ops Team: How to Decide

So, how do you choose? It really comes down to time and money. 

Think about the time you have available — do you have enough to take on the monumental task of building your own team? If not, you probably should consider outsourcing.

Next, think about money. This can be a little complicated, but take it one step at a time. Start with your current revenue. If, for example, you pull in $1 million per year and expect to pay $1 million per year for your yield ops team, they’re really going to have to more than double your revenue for this to be worth it. Doubling a publisher’s revenue is an incredibly difficult prospect — especially in the short term.

The other item to consider is how much of your inventory is directly sold. Yield ops won’t increase those CPMs. They’ll only increase your programmatic advertising CPMs. If you sell a lot of inventory directly, your own yield ops team will have little potential to actually increase your revenue. In those cases, it’s often best to outsource.

Playwire Yield Ops: Everything You Need, Nothing You Don’t

In truth, building your own yield ops team takes a lot of work, some serious skill and a little luck. And even if you do manage to build a successful team, it may not be successful enough to really move the needle after you factor in all the expenses of putting the team together. That’s why so many publishers land on outsourcing as the solution to their yield ops problems.

Choosing to outsource this function means you get all the benefits of an expert team immediately (not after months or years of finding and building a team). It also means you “pay as you go.” Rather than having to invest heavily in salaries up front, joining a monetization platform like Playwire allows you access to all the best yield operation professionals, but you are still only paying a percentage of your ad revenue to get it. No upfront cost, all the benefits.

The Playwire team has increased revenue for countless publishers in a wide variety of verticals, and we can do the same for you. If you would like to find out more about yield ops with Playwire, all you have to do is reach out to us. Contact us online to learn more.

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