Many say the future of receiving proofs is not in hard or soft copy, but in automation. But what happens when it comes time for production teams to face the dizzying series of questions that surround implementation: Web-based or software-based? Cost of system versus personnel? A simple submission process or fully integrated system? At this year’s FOLIO: Show, Shawn Lowe, director of manufacturing at Niche Media, offered tips for deciding which electronic ad portal is right for your publication.

• Stop.
The most important step is to stop and think about your process from the back end, and work your way forward, says Lowe. “Is it easy to use? It has to be. In my opinion, it has to be Web-based. How much will the initial cost be? In some cases, it could cost nothing depending on your requirements, appearance, and out of the box functionality.”

• Start small. Begin on a per-ad basis, then streamline to a monthly depending on your needs.

• Compare costs.
“Look into the cost of personnel versus a computer system,” said Lowe. Since launching a portal, Lowe says the company has saved 25 percent in cost and time, and is eliminating makegoods completely. And since switching their service to the SendMyAd platform, savings have increased to 40 percent. But, he says, if it doesn’t add up for your publication, search for alternatives and negotiate.

• Invest now, save later. Niche Media’s current service, SendMyAd, allows pre-flighted ad problems to be immediately fixed through a Web-based system instead of receiving a rejection e-mail later on in the production process. Lowe also finds an internal instant messaging system incredibly helpful (SendMyAd is the only system that has one) as a time saver that promotes communication on both sides.