Time Inc. took the lead in the digital advertising game when it
launched an ad portal last December, allowing advertisers to upload PDF
files directly to 25 of Time Inc.’s more than 150 titles.
Unlike FTP, an ad portal is a quicker and easier process that allows
advertisers to digitally send ads to Time Inc. magazines by simply
dragging their PDF files over a portal icon located on their desktops.
From there, the ad is loaded and flight-checked for mistakes. "It’s
hard to compare this to FTP since the ad portal offers much more," says
Guy Gleysteen, vice president of paper and digital development at Time
Inc. "The difference is that the ad portal allows us to put various
applications on the sender’s desktop."
Time makes the technology available to its advertisers, free of charge.
"At the moment, the primary tool we have in place is the application
that allows advertisers to check the quality of the file before sending
it to us," Gleysteen says. "Technically, the file is also compressed
and encrypted, but the real key lies in these additional features.
Ultimately, this makes the ad portal easy to use and it takes less time
without all the back and forth between publisher and advertiser."
Reducing Turnaround, Make-goods
A study published last year by Associated Newspapers says United
Kingdom-based advertisers lost some $3.8 million in 2004 because print
advertisements they booked failed to run or ran with errors. Thomson
Financial, for example, reported that 7 percent of all advertisements
that same year ran on the wrong page, were printed in monotone when
booked to run in color or failed to appear at all. Comparable figures
were not available for American advertisers.
Gleysteen says anecdotal evidence suggests it takes 50 percent less
time with the ad portal for Time Inc. magazines to process revisions to
ads. "It’s a little early to talk definitively about time saved, but
early benchmarking studies showed we would save 15-20 minutes per ad
with this feature," says Gleysteen. "We still think the most compelling
features are the overall speed and efficiency of the ad portal."
Time’s portal is licensed from Vio Worldwide, an international IT
company specializing in automated workflows for digital ad delivery.
The technology has been slow in catch on in the U.S., but has been
popular in Europe for at least a couple of years.
The cost to license a Vio ad portal starts at about $5,000 a month, but can vary according to a publisher’s needs.
A similar portal, designed by Vio, has been used by The Daily Telegraph
in England for more than two years, says Alan Darling, Vio’s executive
vice president. Associated Newspapers and publisher Reed Business, both
of which are based in the U.K., have been using the technology for
about a year, according to Darling.
benchmarking studies showed we would save 15-20 minutes per ad with
this feature. Anecdotal evidence from the magazines suggests that it
takes 50 percent less time with the ad portal to process revisions to
VICE PRESIDENT OF PAPER AND DIGITAL DEVELOPMENT AT TIME INC.
But Gleysteen says Time chose the technology for its speed, rather than
its accuracy. "Frankly we didn’t have significant errors in the old
process, but the old process was not efficient," he says. "This
technology really delivers speed and efficiency. It also positions us
to be able to offer additional services in the future."
The portal eliminates the need for shipping hard copies of ads to
printers, saving printing, paper and mailing costs. Instead, Time can
send digital proofs to its printer via its ad portal.
Working Through the Glitches
As with any new technology, Gleysteen says Time Inc. experienced a few
glitches in the first few months when it began using its ad portal. "We
encountered some small problems that we needed to address," he says.
"The most significant problem so far lies in some choices we made about
Specifically, Gleysteen says Time initially required advertisers to
identify an issue date for a publication within the ad portal. "But
advertisers don’t always know the issue date in advance of releasing
files," he says. "That has led to some problems with tracking ad files
to the correct issue date." Although Time Inc. would like all ads sent
with issue dates, it now allows advertisers to select "issue date
unknown" to try to alleviate the problem, Gleysteen says.
Time’s implementation of the portal is ongoing, with weekly titles
getting first dibs, Gleysteen says. "We’re happy with our conversion
rate, but it would be premature to describe this as something we have
accomplished," he adds. "We are still ramping up the use of the portal.
It’s our expectation that People, Time, Sports Illustrated and Entertainment Weekly will have fully converted to the ad portal by mid year and we are targeting the monthly titles by year end."