Looking to improve the efficiency of its production cycles, magazine publisher St. Joseph Media targeted advertising processing—specifically, simplifying the process of how print ads were received into its system. So in August, the publisher ditched a more traditional approach in favor of a digital ad portal managed by industry association Magazines Canada. The SendMyAd digital ad portal, a Blanchard Systems business unit, has produced results. Shorter production cycle times, more efficient employees and opportunities for increased advertising revenues are just some of the benefits the publisher of Toronto Life, FASHION, Weddingbells and others has enjoyed.
St. Joseph Media’s Group Production Director Kim Latreille and Magazines Canada’s Executive Director of Advertising Services Gary Garland spoke exclusively with Publishing Executive on what could be the next big thing in publishing—digital ad portals.
INBOX: How does working with a digital ad portal benefit publishing companies?
GARY GARLAND: There’s no question that it helps save time and money for publishers. Moving to a digital workflow helps improve productivity. There’s less handling of ads, less troubleshooting. Aside from that, there’s increased reliability. When ads come through the portal, they’re ready to print. That means less liability for publishers who have to open up files and make fixes because they were improperly produced.
But I think the biggest advantage is that all of these things together help to reduce cycle time. You can get your production done quicker and the magazine out to consumers faster. That helps in addressing needs of advertising agencies, who want to be able to reach consumers faster than ever.
KIM LATREILLE: We’ve found that having the ad portal, and just the fact that we’re not accepting bad files anymore, reduces our liability. We’d accept a bad file and either fix it ourselves without telling the client or go back and forth with the client to try and convince them. Sometimes when you call and tell them there’s something wrong with their file, they’ll disagree.
There are cases where a previous publisher with whom they’ve run an ad may have fixed their ad and not told them. So then they’ll say, “Oh, it ran fine in such-and-such magazine.” You get into these disputes with your clients. So for us, having the ads come through as good to go means we don’t have to have those conversations anymore. We don’t have to be the bad guy anymore, who’s telling a client that their ad needs some work.
In terms of our relationships with our ad suppliers, it’s been an improvement and an opportunity to move together and do something where we all benefit in the end. There’s an assurance on both sides. When their ads go through the portal, there’s an assurance that the ad is good. And there’s an assurance on our side as well that the ad is good, and if there is something wrong with it, the client knows and they’ll have signed off on it prior to giving it to us.
The other side really has to do with the automation itself. The ad portal provides a lot of opportunities for automation. For example, we use a file naming convention. So for all of our ads, because we have several magazines with multiple regions each, we’re picking up little pieces of the job ticket that the advertiser pulls out—i.e., that they fill in. So those fields are pulled out and put into the naming of the file. So when it lands on our server, it’s already named. There are a lot of shortcuts that it’s provided us in our production department.
In the past, it was taking us about 15 to 20 minutes to process an ad once we were told the ad had been delivered. If that involved pulling it down from our FTP or printing and preflighting it, we were spending 20 minutes an ad. Now we’re spending five minutes or less on an ad.
Joe Keenan is the executive editor of Total Retail. Joe has more than 10 years experience covering the retail industry, and enjoys profiling innovative companies and people in the space.