Like many publishing companies, UBM Medica, a global healthcare media company, found itself under pressure to streamline production operations. One of the major bottlenecks was the time required to move ads through production.
"When we accepted the ad we would preflight it when time was available," said Steve Sanborn, group director of production and manufacturing at UBM Medica. "Usually—though not always—within 24 hours." If there were problems, advertisers had to be contacted and specific problems communicated, engendering further delays. "Then we would give [advertisers] 24 hours to get it back to us. So that was two or three days out of the schedule."
Ads were uploaded to an ftp site, sent on disks and proofs or received via e-mail—”Any way we could get them,” Sanborn said—and time was wasted rectifying problems with formatting, quality or trim size.
"We were looking to address the time spent preflighting and trafficking ad materials and improve communication throughout the process," Sanborn said. "At one time, we had a staff dedicated to receiving ad materials, and of course in the digital world we are asked to do more with less, so we are always looking to save time where we can."
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.
"The things that made us choose SendMyAd were the interface and the tools they had available." said Sanborn. "It was easier for the customer to use, and still had a breadth of tools that helped us to get the ad into acceptance."
By offering a single portal solution—one that allows advertisers to submit print, web and mobile ads through the same interface—the SendMyAd system streamlined and simplified the process involved in ad submission, correction and retrieval.
Tools allow UBM customers to see where a trim size or RGB color problem lies and fix it instantly at the point of submission. Advertisers typically create one ad to fit several different trim sizes, Sanborn said, and therefore appreciate a portal that saves steps and makes formatting easy. For less obvious problems, a preflight report tells advertisers exactly what’s wrong with an ad and how to fix it, and a downloadable InDesign template allows users to check specifications from right within the portal.
"Most users become proficient at submission within two to three times [of using the portal] and claim that it is pretty intuitive," Sanborn said.
As a result, UBM Medica has seen a high rate of advertiser acceptance. Within six months, the company had a 98 percent compliance rate among advertisers. Whether from larger ad agencies or small “mom and pop” advertisers, the speed with which the portal was accepted was important to UBM’s efficiency goals.
“We have a publication that prints an eight page advertising section,” Sanborn said. “The pages are submitted completely by sponsors ... these guys all submit through SendMyAd, and its been going like a song.”
The ease of use for advertisers goes beyond the simplicity of the interface. Because preflighting is instantaneous, the portal effectively “trains” advertisers to recognize where problems arise and help them submit cleaner materials in the future. In addition, the process allows for tightening up of production times, giving advertisers additional time to submit ads.
“Advertisers most appreciate the feedback and the extended material deadlines,” Sanborn says. “By not having to flightcheck and traffic the advertisements back and forth through revisions, we are able to provide two to three business days in extensions. That is because we know that when the ad is uploaded and approved, it is acceptable for reproduction.
The fact the advertiser gets an accept or reject immediately within the portal
—really helps [streamline the entire process] ... and the extra couple of days
really helps us get the ads into the book.”
SendMyAd offers e-mail notifications through every step of the process, and sends automatic reminder e-mails to clients. Once submitted, ads are metadata tagged and stored on the server for easy retrieval; there is no need to use a separate asset management system. "We use the asset management system quite a lot for retrieving pick-up advertisements and to locate ads based on available criteria," Sanborn said. "[This] saves time in searching and retrieving."
For UBM, the cost savings have been clear and concrete. “One person runs all the production here, and they need all the time they can get to move on to more specialized tasks,” Sanborn said. “Because it’s a more efficient method of accepting ad materials and it provides communication, SendMyAd has allowed us to build in important efficiencies.”