It's a familiar story in publishing. North American Publishing Company, a multi-title, business-to-business media company, faced a constant challenge in efficiently moving ads through production. Ads were sent on CDs or uploaded to an ftp site, and time was wasted in putting them into the system, sending them to printers for preflighting, waiting for a response, and going back to customers to rectify problems with formatting, quality or trim size.
"We were running into issues with a file coming in and us not responding to the customer for 48 hours, and a customer becoming upset with us and saying, 'Why didn't you tell me the day I sent the file there was a problem with the file?'" recalled Bob Gibbons, senior vice president at NAPCO.
The solution was SendMyAd, a browser-based ad portal that met all of the company's needs for efficient, user-friendly submission, preflighting, correction and placement of ads.
"It's a very intuitive user interface," Gibbons said. "They have great customer support and all through the process they were very interested in learning from us how to improve the product, what suggestions we might have."
Gary Dolgins, director of sales and marketing at SendMyAd parent company Blanchard Systems Inc., said the elements of SendMyAd that make it stand out are its easy-to-use interface, customizable management tools and a focus on product enhancement based on publisher feedback.
"One of the things we strive for is getting advertiser acceptance," Dolgins said. "It's great to have a portal, but you've got to get your advertisers to use it." To that end, SendMyAd provides superior training resources, as well as an easy submission process that instantly alerts advertisers when there is a problem with their ad - no more hunting for lo-res photos during preflighting, going back to fix incorrect trim sizes or waiting days to hear back from the printer, only to discover that an advertiser is out of the office.
"We do a lot of things to make sure that advertisers are creating ads that meet the publisher's specification, even to the point where the advertiser can download an InDesign template from within the SendMyAd portal that insures that the ad being created is to the right specification," Dolgins said. Trim tools allow customers to see where a problem lies and fix it instantly at the point of submission. "The big time-saving benefit to the publisher comes from the fact that when ads are received, they are ready to go into production and there's really no post-receipt production necessary."
Within three months of launch, NAPCO had 70 percent compliance among advertisers; the percentage now stands at nearly 90 percent. Gibbons said the "biggest surprise," however, was how enthusiastically the portal was embraced by smaller, mom-and-pop clients.
"When we first went into this we thought the mom-and-pop advertisers would show the most resistance, and it's been the exact opposite," he said. "The mom-and-pop advertisers have really embraced this product, and our one magazine that has the highest percentage of these types of advertisers is the magazine with the highest compliance of advertisers using SendMyAd." Advertisers like the immediate feedback and being able to learn what issues exist, because it helps them make their ads better, Gibbons said.
As a large, multi-title publisher, NAPCO appreciates the fact that ad submission tools come in many sizes and are customizable to the specific needs of each publication. SendMyAd, Gibbons noted, is "not just a preflight product": Highly templated ads, such as showcase and marketplace ads, can be created right within the portal. In addition, the system allows for automated file delivery to the printer, eliminating another cumbersome step in the ad production process.
NAPCO uses SendMyAd to preflight Web banner ads and Flash files, making it a truly comprehensive ad management system across print and digital platforms. The system also captures all information related to ads essentially creating a "Smart File, Dolgins said, embedding it as metadata that rides with the ad throughout its life-everything from who uploaded it to how it was modified in the system, to where and when it is supposed to run."
In short, SendMyAd has allowed NAPCO's production staff to do more, in less time, while improving customer service: a winning trifecta that fully justifies the investment. "We're very happy with the product," Gibbons said.