Gannett's AdLink for real estate p. 17

By: Jim Rosenberg SOFTWARE START-UP Over The Line developed AdLink. Media giant Gannett bought the small company and now markets the software it designed to automate the creation and flow of advertising between real-estate brokers' offices and newspapers.
The Gannett Co. bought AdLink licenses for several of its papers. When it acquired the Cincinnati-based developer last year, the operation and its offices became the core of a new business, Gannett Media Technologies Inc.
With a staff of 15 under Dan Zito, formerly vice president and general manager at publishing systems developer Software Consulting Services, GMTI is to become an industrywide vendor, not solely a Gannett supplier.
As such, the Gannett subsidiary will be an exhibitor at Nexpo '95 in June, where it plans a full formal launch of AdLink.
Some products also may have applications for other media outlets, according to Zito, who cited, for example, work on some extensions to AdLink that provide a good way to gather data for multimedia distribution.
Newspapers that purchase AdLink provide the software to their real estate advertisers as "something that adds value to their business," said Zito.
He said AdLink "gives Realtors better control over their ads, and newspapers better control over their costs."
Shortening deadlines for both parties, it handles ad creation and transmission and "eliminates the proofing process, a lot of the composing room costs and effort," said Zito.
In fact, AdLink does not dispense with proofing. It only does away with the time and expense of generating and exchanging hard-copy proofs. The software system uses on-screen proofs of ads, the files for which can be transmitted by telephone between modem-equipped computers.
AdLink includes an automatic audiotex scripting feature that links texts to voice. Another feature, the "Duty Desk," permits a user to download to a laptop computer information from his or her own office and from other brokers, including compressed photo files.
Only text files move from the advertiser.
Photos are scanned at the newspaper, and the resulting digital files are compressed for quick call-up on Duty Desk, transmission as part of on-screen proofs, and/or use in page makeup.
"There are time criteria built into our systems," said Zito.
He explained that at times preset by users, the system at a Realtor's home office automatically queries branch office systems for ad information, and the system in a newspaper's classified ad department thereafter automatically downloads ads from the Realtor's home office.
Zito said GMTI is responsible for its own commercial success. It makes sales calls on all newspaper prospects, whether owned by Gannett or anyone else, because the corporate parent will not impose technology purchases on its local properties. Within Gannett, he said, GMTI product-pricing schedules are scaled to newspapers' different sizes.
Outside of Gannett, AdLink for Real Estate is expected to go live very soon at Ohio's two big dailies, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Columbus Dispatch.
The product's name was expanded to AdLink for Real Estate, said Zito, to distinguish it from several others' use of the AdLink name, including a different system supporting digital delivery of advertising, and use of the word by companies in New York and Colorado.
"There's also a company in California that's challenged us on it," said Zito.
GMTI's president said he foresees AdLink product extensions that are applicable to other classified markets. Generally, he said, it can be deployed as portable sales management and information software, putting market data, competitive data and ad makeup capability at an ad rep's fingertips to "make the sales staff more productive."
Among other developments at GMTI, one likely to emerge soon from its product pipeline is a photo archiving system. Built on technology from Hamburg, Germany's Digital Collections, Zito said, "there's a lot of Gannett thinking in that product as well."
Gannett papers in Rochester, N.Y., and Shreveport, La., have been test sites for the image archive.
"We're rolling out more papers all the time with that product," Zito said, addding that it is not yet being sold to non-Gannett newspapers. "We are still investigating opportunities with Digital Collections," Zito added.


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