UPDATE: Self-Service Ad Sales Solution from Tribune Co., Mediaspectrum

By: Jim Rosenberg Mediaspectrum Inc. is partnering with Tribune Co. to support publishers industrywide by enabling fast, secure self-service advertising. Recently implemented across Tribune properties, the solution is available to any media company to quickly implement customer-centric, self-service ad sales for print, Web, rich media and beyond.

Chicago-based Tribune selected Mediaspectrum, Burlington, Mass., a year ago to power its self-service advertising initiative, with the goal of efficiently generating greater ad volume and making it economically attractive to more advertisers.

The solution needed to support all platforms including print, Web and rich-media, while also being open enough to support Tribune's internal development efforts.

Tribune contributions to the project came in the areas of user interface development and sale issues, according to Mediaspectrum co-founder and CEO Scott W. Killoh. "They were a significant design partner with us," he says, likening Tribune's role in Ad Sales self service to that of Britain's Trinity Mirror in Mediaspectrum's ad and editorial software.

But beyond saying that Tribune licenses the software, Killoh will not discuss the particulars of his company's commercial relationship with Tribune.

By implementing the Ad Sales platform, Tribune was able to open up a sales pipeline much larger than previously possible by reaching new, local advertisers and offering them very competitive pricing. It further aids existing advertisers with a convenient place to do business on any day at any hour.

Tribune now offers the solution to other publishers, helping with proper rating and packaging, according to Killoh. "Their expertise is very important" to the project and the industry's success, says Killoh.

Tribune and Mediaspectrum assure timely implementations and support in order that participating publishers might soon reap the benefits of the systems. Marketing Vice President Jay Cody says the project represents a second step, following last week's announcement that its advertising and editorial solutions are available as hosted services, including a no-cost Ad Sales start-up.

Putting the software into the "cloud" enables Mediaspectrum to plug in publishers much faster -- say, two weeks rather than a few months, according to Cody. "That's the only way you can truly get the scale that Tribune's looking for," he says.

Calling Ad Sales "the only scalable solution on the market, which fits well with our internal development efforts," Tribune Publishing Operations Vice President Mike Sacks said in announcing the partnership: "Moving toward a self-service model is critical to our industry's future," and that Tribune had cut expenses and "generated significant new revenue." since the implementation.

"Rather than tackle this self-service model individually -- a hefty endeavor for any single company -- we look forward to once again collaborating with our like-minded publishers to create a single advertising platform that will compete on the same scale as today's major digital ad networks," Sacks continued. "To accomplish this task, we are opening up our tools and methodology to others so that the entire industry can share."

"As we watch the industry evolve, publishers are embracing Web portals as the central hub for all customer interaction," says Killoh. The collaboration with Tribune "creates a single, elegant platform for ad sales matched with the real-world knowledge and tools that will allow publishers to thrive."

Killoh and Cody argue that there is no future for newspapers in holding onto widely fragmented legacy architectures. Wrapping legacy systems with Web services "just won't compete," says Killoh.

While the aim is to "consolidate the industry and point everyone in the same direction," says Cody, Ad Sales is customizable, and "how they implement the technology is really up to them." The project was not about advertisers having a similar experience with a single industrywide system, he adds.

For publishers, however, the solution does make it "easier to cross sell into each other's inventory," Killoh adds.


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