Last year, the regional press carried out the largest consultation exercise of its kind. Ten thousand questionnaires were sent to agencies and client companies to establish what the medium needed to do to win more business.
National customers told the regional press to make it easier to plan, buy and administer campaigns. They laid down specific challenges, which were published in a booklet – called Now… – earlier this year.
Delivering artwork was cited as one of the biggest hurdles, which has implications for the cost of campaigns for customers and reproduction quality.
Then there’s the regional press’ diversity to deal with – more than 1,300 titles and no central point of access – as well as a mixture of film, courier and digital delivery methods.
Agencies which send artwork digitally are battling against engaged tones as deadlines approach because a number of callers are trying to squeeze large artwork files down the same ISDN line. Delays, corrections and large phone bills all add to agencies’ frustration and the costs incurred by clients.
And of course agencies which choose to use digital transmission systems need to invest in software or pay third-parties.
In Now…, we promised to launch an Internet-based artwork delivery system this year. The recently-launched AdFast system is funded entirely by Newspaper Society members and is available free to agencies and advertisers alike. More than 1,000 regional titles are now set up to receive artwork in this way and software has been distributed to the advertising industry on 4,500 CDs.
AdFast has been welcomed for several practical reasons. It uses industry-standard software to create and transmit files in condensed PDF format on the Net. Various features have been built into the software to enhance security and minimise errors, but the fact that it is an industry-owned solution rather than a third-party operation is key. We are committed to developing this system and continuing to invest in it. It is in our industry’s interests to provide advertisers with easy access to the medium, and to remove the cost of doing so wherever possible.
The benefits of an industry-driven system can be clearly extended to the national press and magazines, some of which have voiced a strong interest in joining our venture. The costly and complex issue of artwork delivery is not peculiar to the regional press.
We are interested in soon making AdFast available to other print media – a move which has the full support of the Incorporated Society of British Advertisers.
It is an exciting time for the regional press. Not only is it making it much easier for advertisers to do business but it is beginning to transform perceptions of the industry by leading the way through initiatives such as AdFast.
Chris Stanley is marketing director of the Newspaper Society