SME POV: 4 Ways to Improve Ad Tech Stack Integrations
Best practices for achieving maximum operational efficiency
Integration is a complex problem to solve at the enterprise level. Software vendors take different approaches to connect the order management system (OMS) to other solutions in the modern tech stack while juggling various publisher needs and requests. At its heart, integration is about creating a flow of information between each platform, eliminating silos, and facilitating decision-making. “Naturally, as they grow, publishers want to connect pieces of their CRM and OMS. They want everything to talk to each other,” says Nic Conforti, Senior Director of Integrations at Boostr.
Developing an integration layer can be tedious at best and mind-boggling at worst. “In our years of work at Boostr, we’ve seen it all,” Conforti says. “We’ve done a lot of integrations, and we’ve encountered all kinds of practices—good and bad. Regardless of approach, the goal is to maximize efficiency.” When done well, integrations allow for more than just communication by facilitating greater automation and delivering new insights.
To reach peak performance, Conforti, who has nearly a decade of specialized ad tech integration experience, offered four best practices to get the most out of your integrations.
#1: Lean into ‘containerization’
“Containerization” is a deceptively simple concept that has big implications for how your tech stack integrations are managed. It is centered on the idea that data can be deployed faster and more securely when code can run consistently on any infrastructure or platform. This method reduces the need for processes to be developed in a specific environment and then translated into others. Containerization effectively reduces bugs and eliminates transfer errors.
But containerization doesn’t address the challenge of getting disparate datasets to speak to one another—especially if they don’t share a common “language.” “The way to approach this,” Conforti explains, “is to have a product that allows you to store data during the integration and then translate it into whatever format the next system—say an ad server—is expecting. By doing this, you’ve stored your data in a particular way that makes your communication easier and your systems overall more agile.”
#2: Outsource solutions
Most media companies are not in the business of building software—and they shouldn’t be. “I’m a big believer in the idea that we’ve moved on from the need to engineer in-house solutions to meet requirements,” Conforti says. “Building a proprietary system can work if you have the resources to build and manage it, but if you want to build something that is going to stand the test of time, you need to look outward.”
There are significant differences between software that is built by the company that will use it versus a partner, Conforti says.
“Typically, whoever you partner with is still going to be able to give you a high level of customization, and they can probably do it better because you’re still a business with a whole different objective—your job isn’t to be building and managing an OMS or CRM,” Conforti continues. “That’s what companies like us do. We know all the ins and outs.”
Additionally, when you don’t need an internal team to manage a proprietary system, you free up resources and never risk losing crucial system knowledge to churn.
#3: Embrace change
Too often, publishers are attached to the way things have always been done instead of trying to create better, more efficient processes. Even when seeking new software to address existing problems, companies can end up recreating flawed processes in a new platform. Boostr Co-founder and Chief Customer Officer Katie Schuele calls this the ethos of “your mess for less.”
“Everyone wants to carry over what they used to have, even though the reason they got a new one was to do it better,” Conforti explains. “This is a pitfall that I still see businesses fall into all the time. We can build it if we need to, but we often have to advise otherwise.”
#4: Don’t over-engineer
Failure to launch effectively integrated systems is often the result of over-engineering. “They have developed integrations as product features that live in the cloud that ultimately no one has visibility,” Conforti says. These integrations are used as stopgaps to solve for what’s missing in the product, which only increases a business’s expenses and product list. Instead, the aim should be to level up while slimming down.
“We don’t want to solve problems with an integration that is over-engineering something,” Conforti says. “We want to solve them with a feature set that is going to make operations overall better for you.”
Level up your integration game
The key to successful integrations, Conforti says, is to begin with practicalities. He suggests starting your integration discussion with the following questions:
- What do you want to automate?
- What are you trying to solve with automation?
- Where do you want to eliminate double entry?
- How do you want things to work?
- Compared to your current workflows, where do you want to send data?
- Whose time are you trying to save?
“Before you get to field mapping, objects, and the tedious details, you should start with these questions. Get clear about what you want to do in plain English,” Conforti advises.
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