The Ad Portal Era
The idea of the ad portal—a service allowing advertisers and agencies to submit ads to publishers remotely through a system that automatically checks for errors and omissions—has been around for a few years, but has taken on new importance with the spread of browser-based portal options (and the need to automate as many workflow processes as possible to increase efficiency). A process that until recently required downloading often complex software can now be accessed anywhere, by anyone, utilizing easy-to-use tools. Without fanfare, the era of the ad portal has fully arrived.
For publishers, the advantages of using ad portals are obvious. "It's really streamlined things," says Penny Sullivan, senior director of premedia services at Meredith. "By the time the ads come to us, they are good to go. In the past, files would come in, you'd open the packet and have to send it to a technical person to run it through preflighting. If they found anything wrong, they'd send it back to the person who opened it, and they would have to get on the phone [with the agency]."
All of that back and forth—with the potential for further errors and miscommunication—is now a thing of the past. "You don't need a whole staff of people for file checking," Sullivan notes. "Most of those people have been redeployed to other things."
The process works by building in tools for automated preflighting, which provides quick and efficient flagging of problems early in the submission process. "The advertiser receives an interactive preflight report, which states if anything did not meet specs and includes information on how to fix the problem," says Gary Dolgins, director of sales and marketing at Blanchard Systems Inc., owner of the SendMyAd portal used by Meredith.
Once the ad is approved by the advertiser, it's ready to be inspected by the publisher or dropped automatically into production.