Business information written specifically for newspaper advertising departments

Outsourcing and Inscourcing

They could outsource their ad production either within the United States or overseas, consequently cutting costs and lightening the load of their employees. Or, they could keep all of their ad production and sales under the same roof, thus being able to keep an eye on the quality and the entire production process.

One of the sessions at the America East Conference spurred a lively discussion on the benefits of outsourcing or insourcing newspaper ad production. The panel included four presenters, three who advocated outsourcing ad production, and one who works for a company that does their ad production 100 percent in-house. The session, “Outsourcing Ads — The Pros, Cons and Requirements,” included speakers Toni Humphreys, the Director at Gannett Imaging and Ad Center, Lynn Banta, the CEO of Outsourcing USA, and Sherri Propis and Mike Johnson, Senior Director of Sales Operations and Customer Focus and Creative Services Manager, respectively, from The E.W. Scripps Company.

Insourcing vs. Outsourcing

Newspapers face a tough decision when figuring out whether or not their ad department will outsource or insource their ad production. There are a slew of routes the ad department could choose from. They could outsource their ad production either within the United States or overseas, consequently cutting costs and lightening the load of their employees. Or, they could keep all of their ad production and sales under the same roof, thus being able to keep an eye on the quality and the entire production process. During the America East session, Humphreys, the panelist from Gannett Imaging and Ad Center spoke on behalf of insourcing and said that they had issues with quality and cost when outsourcing their work, thus causing them to begin insourcing their ads. Ever since the transition, they have seen positive results. On the other hand, the speakers from Outsourcing USA and The E.W. Scripps Company found that sending their ad production outside of their company, whether it is within or outside of the U.S., was actually a very efficient and successful method. Their experiences demonstrated that outsourcing ad production is cost-effective and timely while maintaining both the overall quality and creativity of their advertisements. Below, we will recap the speakers’ experiences with both outsourcing and insourcing ad production, weighing the pros and cons of both practices. That way, you will have real-life experiences to draw from so you are well-equipped with the knowledge you need to decide whether or not to keep your ad production in-house or send it elsewhere.

Gannett Imaging and Ad Center

Toni Humphreys kicked off the discussion by talking about the success the Gannett Imaging and Ad Center has had insourcing all of their ad production. When the company added their ad product back in 2009, they originally planned on outsourcing all of their production. The company installed a customer-facing system in order to keep them in the loop with constant communication so the clients were aware of where they were along in the process. This included involving customers in the proofing stage of ads. The ad production model they came up with consisted of a three-year contract with both on- and offshore outsourcing of their advertisements.

Ultimately, however, Humphreys and the Gannett Imaging and Ad Center found managing the outsourcing system to be costly and the overall quality of the finished product suffered. As a result, they decided to begin insourcing all of their ad production. They now do 100 percent of the work in-house and last year alone they completed 1.4 million ads, 100,000 of which were digital. If your newspaper does decide to insource ad production, Humphreys emphasized the importance of the continuous training employees.

Outsourcing USA

Lynn Banta of Outsourcing USA continued the discussion from the perspective of a company that does ad production for various publishers and media organizations. Banta argued in favor of outsourcing ad production, saying that companies that do their ads in-house end up with the same final product, but do so less efficiently and at a higher price.

“The technology is moving more quickly than the talent within the newspaper, “ Banta said. She continued to say that the burden needs to be taken off of newspapers and placed on outside companies in order to improve both quantity and quality. “We need to get ads out the door more quickly,” she explained.

By outsourcing, Banta explained that newspapers could accomplish more while paying less. Moreover, newspapers that outsource are able to give more time and attention to their customers by ensuring them a dedicated team that has comprehensive profiles on all of the customers, their needs, publications and ads. She also described the benefits, including a shorter proofing time while also reducing the number of errors (more comprehensive coverage than just spell checking) in the ads and speeding up the turnaround time for clients.

Banta believes that newspapers can find committed and trustworthy ad production partners that will get to know their company, location and customers. This will improve the quality and efficiency of ads. It will also split the customer service responsibilities and administrative work of sales reps with the ad production partner. As a panelist from The E.W. Scripps Company explained, “[Sales reps] should be selling, not proofing or [doing] ad production.”

Perhaps most importantly, Banta finds that outsourcing is a positive revenue investment for newspapers. Ad departments will improve the quality by eliminating the number of errors, boosting creativity and lessening proofing and turnaround times, and they then will have an instant increase in revenue, while improving the ads themselves. Therefore, Banta believes that outsourcing may be the best decision an ad department could make for their newspaper.

The E.W. Scripps Company

Sherri Propis and Mike Johnson of The E.W. Scripps Company finished off the session by discussing their experiences as a company that manages 13 newspapers that outsource all of their ad production. In 2007, Scripps decided to do an evaluation of all of their departments in order to figure out where they could be more efficient. Ad production was one of the areas that were reviewed. They found that at the time, their newspapers were working with three different outsourcing partners, including some onshore and some off. Each used a different technology platform and implemented its own unique process. Scripps evaluated all of them and then chose the most efficient methods; the best outsource vendor and the best overall experience. They deduced that they received the best technology solution from xPance, while the best ad production partner was 2adpro.

After they decided what the best process and technology was, they implemented a three-tier organization to their ad production. The first is a prep station where the sales rep and customer decide upon a vision for their ads and pass it along to the ad production partner. Next is the traffic desk, which assigns ads and then monitors their progress during ad production. The third and final station is production, where the outsource partner goes through art direction and creative vision, and then creates the ad, and is responsible for proofing and correcting until the finished product is ready to be passed back to the publisher.

When choosing their production, The E.W. Scripps Company sets up an in-depth set of criteria in order to find the best-equipped partner and technology solution that can complete ad production efficiently, while remaining creative in the development of ads. When it comes to technology, Scripps insists the partner use Cloud software, track the progress, online proofing system as well as comprehensive metrics and analytics. As for the ad production partner, Scripps requires they create creative print and digital ads efficiently, offer a cost-effective solution, at least overnight production with 24/6 customer service and be a committed and accessible partner.

After successfully transitioning to xPance for their technology needs and sending all of their ad production to 2adpro, Scripps saw a 40 percent decrease in their ad production costs. They plan to continually evaluate their system in order to find new ways to become efficient and cost-effective while remaining innovative with the design of their ads.