The Ad Portal Era
A side benefit cited by Merolle is built-in protection for publishers when ads get through that are not to clients' liking. Hearst's portal states in plain language that advertisers should send a SWOP [Specifications for Web Offset Printing] compliant proof, and prompts them to sign a waiver if they choose not to. "[If] the reproduction does not come out to what they were expecting … we point out that they clicked on this or that [disclaimer] and said they agree, they understand [what the standards need to be].'"
Adopting Ad Portals
The increasing benefits of ad portals have been borne out by the technology's rapid adoption by the industry. In 2004, Time Inc. became the first major publisher to offer advertisers the ability to submit ads via the Internet through its Direct2Time service, according to Guy Gleysteen, senior vice president of production at Time Inc.
"Direct2Time … allows advertisers to check the quality of their files before they submit them to a magazine," he says. "At launch, that innovation alone immediately helped eliminate the many hours spent checking and resubmitting ad material that was not prepared correctly."
Gleysteen says the system was "an instant hit with advertisers."
"It's worth pointing out that 100 percent of our ads are received this way—and have been for years—eliminating the need for hard copy proofs, saving time, money (on overnight shipping and couriers), and allowing more extension flexibility," Gleysteen notes.
Meredith's original application-based portal had more than 50-percent compliance, but adoption rates were hindered by learning curve and permissions issues. With a browser-based system, adoption and use of the portal has jumped to near 100 percent, Sullivan says.
A key part of the implementation process was educating vendors about the new system using easy-to-understand tutorials without forcing the system on people.