The Ad Portal Era
"I've been involved in a lot of [implementation] projects, and this would not be one that I would call really difficult," Sullivan says. "I think that's because a lot of coordination went into it. We did a lot of communication. We did webinars to train the advertisers on what we were doing … we talked to our salespeople and agencies. We took a pretty holistic approach before we rolled out, and as a result, there were very few surprises. The biggest [question] was how quickly the users would adapt to it."
Salespeople were trained in the process and ready to support advertisers, but not involved in actively pitching the portals. "I never got one call from them with a complaint," Sullivan notes.
Merolle says installation is "kind of a no-brainer," and the browser-based portals tend to be easy to learn. "I always give the portal the idiot test: myself," she jokes. "I'm not a digital workflow expert, I'm a production person. That's why I'm a good barometer, and believe me, it's simple."
Because all browser-based portals tend to have similar advantages in terms of workflow and efficiency, publishers should choose a vendor based on their specific short and long-term goals, such as the need to streamline known stumbling blocks.
"Most publishers tell us the thing that's usually wrong with an ad when they receive it is it's the wrong size," Dolgins says. "With a trim tool right in the application, they can position the ad and trim away all the unneeded information."
For Hearst, a desire for quick adoption led to a request for ad portal vendor (and premedia company) HudsonYards to allow advertisers to upload with a minimum of steps.
"[Cropping tools] are a good idea, and maybe eventually we'll put in a cropping tool, but our major focus at the beginning was to get full compliance," Merolle says. "We didn't want people to get hung up on all these … clicks before you're uploading."