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Panpa Bulletin : June 2006
32 | PANPA BULLETIN June 2006 file elements onto transportable disk drives or CDs, and couriering them to the newspaper produc- tion department. An expensive, ad hoc method that inevitably caused delays in production due to lost art work. Alan Marshall an Australian working in the UK IT technical department became involved in the investigation of the electronic transportation of adverts directly to multiple newspapers world- wide. This method would ensure that only the finished file was sent, avoiding lost material and the delays and ultimately the ex- tra costs generated. A pilot scheme was set up with Neville Jeffries, News Lim- ited and Fairfax to explore the opportunity of digital delivery, and quickly became the de facto standard for Quickcuts. Quickcuts was rather propri- etary and utilised somewhat ex- pensive, dedicated software and communications systems but delivered the product without too many problems. The teething process of custom- er education took a large amount of time to settle down but once achieved, the electronic delivery of advertising material developed in Australia and New Zealand, much to the excitement of news- paper bean counters who realised that there were process elimina- tions to be made and hence lower production costs. The problem was never a cost factor for delivery as neither the ad- vertising agency or the newspaper paid for transmission, this was born by the customer who was charged virtually the same price as delivering by hand. But what arrogance was dis- played by a number of newspa- pers in their insistence that peo- ple utilised a specific ad delivery system bounded by proprietary software and hardware, talk about closing the gate to many smaller advertisers. It became evident that this situ- ation could not continue and the Internet was discussed as the pre- ferred method of delivery due to its low cost. Perhaps this would now bring the cost of joining an ad delivery system down and let's not forget that newspapers benefited from electronic delivery, removing a large number of old manual processes just to receive print- ing material. In early 2000 AdSend Australia was developed, a pilot scheme that investigated the delivery of advertising material not by expensive proprietary software and hardware but utilising the Internet and a simple web- browser technique. Although this method was not fully introduced to the market- place due to a lack of research funds it set the standard for ad- vertising delivery within Austral- ia from that date. Websend became, I believe, the first Australian-based true Internet advertising delivery sys- tem and gained instant success due to its ease of use, free oper- ating software and dramatic cost reductions to customers and the fact that it checked all advertising material prior to being delivered to the newspapers from day one. Quickcuts quickly followed and wenowhavetwo advertisingdeliv- ery systems based on the Internet that are both delivering advertis- ing material on time, worldwide, pre-checked and ready for direct placement onto finished pages on computer screens. Direct transfer via the Internet Newspapers, I am sure, see the advantages of direct transfer of advertising material, electroni- cally placed directly onto finished pages. Now imagine the further cost savings to advertisers by their ability to graphically book and place advertising material directly into a newspaper's dummy over the Internet without incurring de- livery costs. The first step for advertisers to direct booking is to graphically see available space and costs for any publication or web space and book directly across the Internet. The process elimination this will create would be enormous. Imagine a client accessing a pub- lication or web page dummy via the web, booking the space and delivering the material electroni- cally to a database that everyone in the production cycle has access to.Once completed the customer is automatically provided with billing information and facili- ties to pay immediately or by ac- count. Specifc program training As the web browser surrounds the whole system, any graphic in- terface for the system can be fully customised for continuity across customer and in-house require- ments, developing a deeper under- standing ofweb-based systems and their ease of use across the board. Inmyexperiencepeople respond to short, four-hour training periods rather then a full day or days. Sim- ple training should begin with the operating system of the computer followed by Internet training and then program training. I lecture at the Sydney Graphics Design College in and have found most people have the attention span of a sparrow, with this in mind they have developed short to the point courses with a great emphasis upon back-up and sup- port. Follow up courses should be available every three months. Self performance, web-based monitoring programs can be de- veloped for user training such as small video files of 10 minutes duration that explain specific op- erations of the system. These files can be developed in any media player software now available free on all computer systems. Any system's performance level is a team effort and should be viewed as a conduit that makes profit for an organisation. It is vital to have an achieve- ment level program developed and offered to all users of any web-based system. Once each level of training is achieved then certificated recognition is one vi- tal part of the development, and ongoing use of future web-based technology implemented within the newspaper and publishing industry. So train your staff if you want the best, most effective solution you have implemented to work well. Good Internet technology at- tracts customers and removes unwanted time-consuming proc- esses such as double handing of advertising material, double booking of advertising material and duplications of customer de- tails to name but a few. Good Internet technology re- duces the obstacles of complex and diverse training require- ments, unwanted costs of propri- etary software and upgrades, and multitasking can now be a reality for users. Any professional sales person will tell you that a product well-re- searched and designed when pre- sented to customers should, with all things be equal, with regard to the professionalism of a newspa- pers electronic operations, aid to higher closure rates and greater profitability. Systems based on simple tech- nology work well, rather than complex technology solutions that drain financial resources and build structures of IT manage- ment that can ultimately hinder growth due to the implementa- tion of technology that is far to complex. It has been in my experience far easier for a newspapers to ex- pand their technology operations cost-effectively if they keep to the rules of the KISS principle - Keep It Simple Stupid. In many cases this has not been the case. Australian newspapers have suffered from being technol- ogy dumping grounds for equip- ment and software solutions and I hope this situation ceases in the near future. A greater opening of systems to real standards coupled to a step towards the path of self develop- ment would, I am sure, produce systems that last more than five to 10 years. Pippa leary is the Product and Marketing Director - news and Content, fairfax Digital, the interactive division of John fairfax holdings. leary is responsible for growing revenue and audience usage of smh.com.au and theage. com.au. How to make money online So train your staff if you want the best, most effective solution you have implemented to work well