Advertising management for the publishing industry is facing significant challenges. While many media owners have re-strategized, to offer cross-platform packages that better reflected their print, digital and broadcast offerings, these efforts were often hampered by an advertising technology ecosystem that wasn’t built to support cross-channel ad operations strategies.

Let’s reflect. What has been going on in print and magazine publishing?

  • Print circulation is decreasing, and this impacts ad revenues.
  • Print advertising dollars were a stalwart and reliable part of any publishers commercial revenue mix.
  • Print revenue decline has led publishers to identify and monetize new revenue channels and to pay serious attention to the profitability issues around digital.
What hinders media owners from supporting cross-channel advertising operations with the appropriate technology?

1. Lack of Cross-media Performance Analytics Across Business Units

In the print media industry, commercial sales heads are adept at conceiving new advertising models and designing a package price and value proposition that is attractive to advertisers. However, reporting and analytical tools are frequently interrogating single channel siloed databases for print and digital revenue and yields.

These tools make it a difficult and time-consuming task to understand holistically how a particular bundle of advertising products behaves. Fine-tuning these packages to optimize revenue and the inventory within them is often a matter of guesswork.

As a consequence of such disconnected reporting, the multiplying effect of cross-media is not yet reflected in cross-media packages, according to Chuck Richard, vice president and lead analyst at research firm Outsell. He says that they “are being sold too cheaply and do not reflect the results they deliver.”

In fact, sales teams in the Media & Communications Industry still need further training in terms of analytics, according to Salesforce.

2. Lack of Awareness by Sales Representatives and Operations Managers

In advertising management, print and digital sales teams commonly work as separate units with the little opportunity to cross-fertilize ideas and strategize around key account management. This is a classic case of lack of cross-collaboration between sales teams. According to Salesforce’s State of Sales Report,  the day-to-day sales process is still plagued by:

  • Time-consuming administrative tasks.
  • Siloed customer information.
  • Outdated management systems.

Salesforce concluded that inefficient processes not only hinder sales team but decreases the productivity of the entire company.
In advertising management, poor inter-department communication is often compounded where the media owner also has a ‘campaign solutions’ team selling ad hoc and often complex solutions deals with corporate and national accounts.
Therefore, the opportunities for miscommunication are rife.

A study by Ernst & Young commissioned by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB)  shows that there’s still a level of discomfort with certain tasks in ad operations.

  • Using intermediaries to monetize inventory 29%.
  • Articulating how various platforms can fulfill campaign and media objectives 25%.
  • Using metrics and measurement sources to determine how to best execute a media strategy and evaluate performance 27%.
  • Managing and clearing discrepancies 23%.
  • Packaging and pricing ad inventory 20%.

3. Multiple Touch-points with Print Media Sales Teams

Advertisers and agencies complain about dealing with multiple sales reps at a single publisher and look for one unified stream. They are concerned with several issues:

  • Each sales representative manages elements of a campaign for the particular media channel for which they are responsible.
  • They are frustrated with their repetitive conversations with individual members of the sales team, which add little-perceived value.
  • Ad sales professionals are failing to make the most of a good CRM software to improve their communication.

Media buyers are seeking a more seamless engagement with the publisher. In fact, they’re looking for a customer experience less prone to generating costly booking errors due to misunderstanding in what can be a long thread of conversations.

Publishers are aware of ad buyers frustrations and are taking steps to streamline the sales dialogue. Cross-training print and digital sales teams to sell multi-media packages and inventory is a step in that direction.

However, until these teams have the ad technology infrastructure in place to allow for the production of a single cross-media insertion order, proof of order fulfillment and a single invoice, improvements in overall buyer satisfaction are likely to be limited.

4. Difficult to Understand Media Packages

In a bundle of different media offered to advertisers and agencies, the mix can be hard to understand, the terminology confusing, and the client unable to see the full picture.

Agency representatives complain that advertisers are offered complex packages they do not understand and pricing that is unclear, leaving advertisers feeling uncertain of what it is they are getting for their money.

In creating multi-channel package offerings, it is vital that the publishers consider the different personas of the advertisers they are likely to be selling to:

  • A local independent store with a print-centric history of advertising spend will be unfamiliar with the terminology around the digital landscape. They may be skeptical about the value proposition for online elements of the package.
  •  A digital-first online retailer is quite a different persona.  They are struggling to see where the return in print advertising would come from. They often fail to recognize the evidence that they get more uptake in online transactions where pre-prints in newspapers or magazines promote their store-front.
Despite coming from different ends of the media buying spectrum, both personas have in common a sense of unfamiliarity with certain elements of the packaged bundle.  All the more reason to demystify the language used to describe the package offer.

5. Lack of clarity around invoicing

Publishers want to avoid lengthy invoice disputes when their media campaigns are billed.  When you consider how best to invoice for bundled packages, you have two key factors:

  • Transparency: most advertisers want to see a single invoice reflecting the goods and services they purchased as part of your offer.  Where the publisher lacks consolidated, omnichannel order management, billing, and invoicing system, even producing a single invoice can prove a challenge.
  •  Flexibility: it is essential to be able to reflect the advertiser’s invoicing preferences and reduce the risk of invoice queries and delayed collections. Some advertisers prefer to see a consolidated invoice, while others want to look at all components of the package displayed on the invoice, for clarity.

Commercial directors can craft combined print, digital and multimedia packages to address the needs of their market and advertising communities. However, they face a predicament: they want to craft multimedia campaigns, but they drive to get the new package definition onto yet another legacy order management system so that it can be invoiced.

We have to admit: ad operations managers are generally very resourceful with the tools they have. They can come up with creative ways to juggle with existing data fields and re-purpose obsolete product configurations and ad specifications.

However, the final invoice is virtually incomprehensible:

  • Their outputs at best ambiguous and -at worst- so confusing the collection is stalled.
  • Too many customers receive invoices that describe:
Multimedia package ‘retail Publication: ‘Friday magazine’, size: ‘full page’, position: ‘inside back cover’, color: ‘Full color’, publication date: ‘10/10/2017’ @ $3,0000 Publication: ‘Internet’, size: ‘00 x 00’ position: ‘, ,’ colour: ‘null’ publication date xx – xx @ $1000

Would you understand this?

In spite of the best efforts of the team, the invoicing is ineffective, because the systems used are incapable of providing an accurate representation of the media elements purchased by the advertiser.

In summary, while ad operations professionals in print media and magazine publishing continue doing wonders to rearrange cross-channel media packages, they’re still patching with legacy order management software. With the ongoing crisis magazine and print media is facing regarding circulation and revenue, it’s time to step up to the challenge and figure out another solution.


Print & Magazine Publishing: 5 Challenges for Cross-Media Ad Sales Advendio