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The Spectator fast-tracks its advertising sales transformation

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Established in 1828, and now owned by Press Holdings, The Spectator publishes what is still hailed as “the most influential weekly in the English language” in print and online. The British publisher has expanded extensively in recent years, successfully branching into lifestyle, educational and financial supplements, events and the visual arts, with its highly-regarded Apollo magazine. Similar to many modern multichannel media companies, its legacy, disparate technology was, however, proving a hindrance rather than a help.

When it decided to invest in advertising sales technology, it looked to Lineup Systems for help. It took just three months to get Adpoint’s end-to-end advertising sales solution implemented and live – a transformation that has helped the business significantly reduce sales administration and speed up the entire sales process. What’s more, for the first time, the business has a single, global revenue perspective and real-time actionable intelligence that will better equip it to identify and exploit new sales, customers and market opportunities.

“One day we were using Excel, a booking system and a host of other formats; three months later, we had complete end-to-end optimization of the whole advertising sales, booking, billing and reporting cycle”

Shez Shafiq
Chief Operating Officer,

The Spectator

The Spectator requirements

  • Consolidation of different data sets onto a single platform
  • Integration of CRM and digital as part of the same solution
  • Out-of-the-box solution requiring minimal development
  • Fast and cost-effective deployment

The pitfalls of old technology

“Prior to Adpoint, we had cumbersome manual processes and laborious data entry. This resulted in a lot of the sales teams’ time being spent on administrative tasks instead of selling. It was also very hard for management to track sales and advertising performance,” recalls Chief Operating Officer Shez Shafiq.

The Spectator had been using a simple booking system to record sales and to process orders. No CRM system meant customer records were kept in a multitude of formats across the business such as Excel spreadsheets, Word documents, hard copies, mobile phone messages and emails. Individual sales staff were unable to accurately keep track of their leads and prospects. Shafiq comments: “It was clear new sales approaches needed new technology. The hunt for CRM capabilities and a better way to capture, process and track sales became a priority for us.”

Following an industry recommendation, The Spectator approached Lineup. “It was then that we realised there was an off-the-shelf solution that could help us optimize our entire sales operation and processes overnight. Effectively combining several systems within one single solution, Adpoint proved cost-effective and far more efficient. Lineup’s extensive media experience and quick understanding of our businesses challenges also reassured us we had found the right partner,” says Shafiq.

“It was clear new sales approaches needed new technology. The hunt for CRM capabilities and a better way to capture, process and track sales became a priority for us.”

Shez Shafiq
Chief Operating Officer,

The Spectator

Ready-to-go

Following Lineup’s appointment, and with the valuable help of The Spectator’s Production Manager Gareth Kime, Adpoint was up and running for the business in a matter of months.

Using Adpoint’s fully-functional, out-of-the-box solution, very little development was needed to enable it to meet the company’s booking and sales requirements. Adpoint’s pre-built integration with ad server DFP and versatile cloudbased infrastructure also enabled easy incorporation with supporting systems.

At the same time, Lineup’s experts also cleaned up and transferred the legacy data, effectively optimizing the ‘real estate’ of the sales team. Roll-out was wrapped up with comprehensive training by area specialists of all users from the sales, administration, IT and finance departments to ensure speedy adoption.

From Excel to excellence

Shafiq was impressed. “We managed to stick to both the budget and the original timeframe. One day we were using Excel, a booking system and a host of other formats; three months later, we had complete end-to-end optimization of the whole advertising sales, booking, billing and reporting cycle,” he says. “The team from Lineup were very professional from start to finish. They took the time to understand our requirements and went above and beyond our expectations during the implementation stage.”

The Spectator now enjoys the full functionality of Adpoint, from lead generation to final billing. Sales people are able to track their prospects more efficiently, with a promise of higher sales. Display and digital ads can now be booked within a single, seamless order, accurately reflecting the multi-channel make-up of the company’s offering.

Order management is easier, too, and new automation has reduced errors and increased billing accuracy. Kime is pleased to note that, internally, “a lot of people now have a much greater understanding of the whole business than they ever had before.”

Gone are the reports generated in different areas and disparate formats. Adpoint now enables smarter practices, delivering better intelligence through simpler and more flexible reporting.

Boosting the bottom line

Shafiq concludes: “Adpoint has had a profound impact on efficiency and its effects are already being felt. Sales will be able to generate increased revenues and supporting teams, including finance, can spend less time managing credit control. For the first time, we have instant and easily-accessible intelligence on performance and revenue, and management are able to monitor the performance of each department, and of each campaign. We don’t have to rely on ‘gut feeling’. This intelligence can now inform our strategy, and we expect a knock-on effect on our efficiency and bottom line.”

Three game changers

Adpoint CRM

With Adpoint, The Spectator now enjoys the systems’ full CRM system capabilities that was tailor-made for media selling. With powerful lead generation tools, sales people are able to track their prospects’ activity and spot trends and opportunities. Targets and tasks are set for the sales team, who can then pursue them more efficiently with a result of higher sales. As CRM is fully integrated into Adpoint’s complete lead-to-billing solution, once a proposal is accepted, Adpoint takes care of the rest, using sales automation to take it through the delivery funnel, with no rekeying and complete accuracy.

Adpoint Analytics

With a single data set across the full sales cycle, all of The Spectator’s advertising information is fully searchable and available in real-time. Using Adpoint’s business intelligence capabilities, the company is able to create reports ranging from detailed campaign accounts to overall business performance reviews. Different levels of authorization have been assigned to users according to their seniority. The management team can now monitor the performance of their respective teams and use consolidated customer data to deliver improved sales service.

Seamless DFP integration

Adpoint’s bidirectional integration with DFP meant a fast and efficient installation. The Spectator’s whole online publishing inventory was imported into Adpoint, where it was combined with accompanying financial and reporting data. Now, sales simply filter to find what they need and choose the package for an error-free workflow. As the ads are directly linked to the adline on the web page, inventory and ad conflicts can now be checked by sales via the system, without needing to consult the operations team. Once confirmed, it is a matter of a simple ‘push’ of the ad by operations from Adpoint to DFP to take it through to next phase, with all the required information for serving. The Spectator’s digital sales and operations teams have total visibility of the ads’ performance in Adpoint while being served by DFP, with full reporting capability on impressions, clicks and overall targets.

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Lineup Systems is the world’s leading provider of advertising sales technology.

 

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