Print buying for the 21st century

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Publisher’s Internationalé has developed Buy on Platform to modernise the transaction of print media, bringing with it programmatic capabilities never seen before. Here the company outlines how it has served local publishers and media agencies, and how it will transform to embrace other media and international territories.

In today’s technology-driven, globally connected environment, modernisation is the key which has to be adopted by media in transactions involving print advertising, and Buy on Platform (BOP) has been designed specifically to serve this requirement.

BOP stakes a claim to be the world’s first full-function programmatic platform for print. BOP is wholly an Australian creation and developed in a country that is justifiably home to some of the world’s most recognised media houses.

If we take a step back to view the bigger media picture over a longer time span, it is evident that print media has lost significant market share both in terms of value and volume. The fundamental reason for this loss is attributable to the high friction and multi-tiered transacting model employed in several countries, including Australia.

This has led to higher cost-to-revenue ratios for agencies and publishers, with this trend accelerating significantly over the past 20 years. Reduction in revenues implies that a high-touch business model is no longer viable for the organisation.

Hence, in order to improve productivity, resources that were primarily used for operational tasks require deployment to augment client management and sales, and operations in turn, demand greater automation.

The enabling solution provided by BOP is the industry’s answer during this much-needed transition. BOP standardises and harmonises the multiplicity of processes, ad sizes, and terms used by the various participants in the industry, bringing a much greater simplicity in transacting, and improved accuracy of financial reporting, while maintaining the strict commercial confidentiality required.

The platform maintains a comprehensive database of rates, sizes, deadlines and specs, covering over 1,000 individual publications, and multiple publisher bundles.

BOP was built painstakingly over six years, after thousands of man-hours of meetings, conducted in leading media markets, in addition to detailed scoping studies with various publishers and agencies. This exercise also encompassed working with The Media Federation of Australia and members of NewsMediaWorks.

Going forward, media owners would be compelled to present their analogue audiences through modes that are easily understood by the modern media buyer, i.e., at comparative CPMs with inventory availability and data matching, all on one platform. In this regard, the trading platforms used for digital inventory trading would fittingly serve as a beacon for the owners as well as buyers.

While most media owners definitely comprehend bundling and PMP (Private Marketplace) deals, they continue to deal with the issue of the method by which to monetise the entire audience generated by their papers every day. BOP is already structured for the purpose of audience buying, and the capability is available to the industry, whenever participants are ready to exploit the system.

Peter Miller, CEO of NewsMediaWorks opines, “The team behind BOP has developed an intimate understanding of the complexities of print media transaction. It has been demonstrated that these processes at the buying end of the process, primarily within media agencies, can be streamlined by the platform. Our member publishers are in turn actively trialling BOP in order to understand how the platform impacts, and might streamline, publisher workflows as well”.

In addition, BOP has investigated and examined the requirements of large as well as small publishers from North Queensland to Southern Hobart. This covers regional and rural publications and includes ethnic media and representative companies.

The platform most recently completed a full trial with Universal McCann. Simon Grace, UM’s Head of Government partnerships adds, “We see that the trial has been extremely successful and we see BOP as a great tool for transacting in the purchase of print media for the Australian Government and potentially other clients.

Key benefits of BOP include:

  • Complete confidence in the financial matching process.
  • Servicing and training from the BOP team and instant response to all questions/queries for UM users.
  • Ingestion of booking data automatically into our financial system (SMD) with accuracy and time saving.
  • Transparency of all transaction records between agency and publisher for auditing and accuracy purposes.

"We believe that BOP would save a minimum of 50% in time required to book, confirm, check and load a campaign in SMD (Spectra MD). And with more bookings and our templates developed within BOP, we see this saving growing over time,” he adds.

Charlton D’Silva, BOP CEO explains, “While the operating benefits of the platform performing the important tasks of the complete booking process with available links to accounting systems and ensuring zero account queries are immense, when used at full tilt, the system offers media owners the full range of battleware of a complete trading platform with quality metrics and bespoke reporting to different levels within an organisation”.

Ganesh Prasad, BOP’s Chief Technology Officer, describes the platform as the “stock exchange” for print advertising, where all publishers are able to plug in their inventory and buyers are able to log in and make purchases. “All buyers and sellers come to this common platform where everybody can trade with each other in a unique way, be it private contracts, fixed-price sales, auctions of distress and/or premium positions, CPM-based deals or deals through personal account management models,” he affirms.

Prasad further elaborates, “This is a huge change. It has never happened before because everybody is still booking print ads individually. Now with BOP, an agency can say, ‘I’m going to buy 500 publications from 12 publishers’, put it all together in one schedule, click one button, send it off and it goes to all those publishers, instantly and confidentially”.

In its early years of development, BOP worked with The Media Store and Toyota along with The West Australian.

More recent trials have been with Dentsu Aegis Network, and with Universal McCann on the Federal Government account. While working with these large agencies, over a thousand bespoke changes were carried out on the platform in order to conform to the industry’s requirements. Moreover, BOP has undergone stringent compliance tests, as may be mandated by a government or a large global corporation.

The system is in its second trial with The Media Store. The Media Store group head David Lodge states that, “the promise of BOP is to deliver greater efficiencies, not only for agencies but also for our publisher partners. At The Media Store, we’re excited to trial BOP and to understand first-hand if it truly improves the print buying process”.

Prasad affirms that a platform similar to BOP has not been developed previously, because in addition to the technology being difficult and expensive to develop, print has increasingly been perceived as a “dying market”.

However, he perceives print as a starting point for BOP. Prasad disclosed: “We have had diligence meetings with several TV, radio and outdoor companies, internationally. BOP can be adapted to meet their needs. For TV and radio, the major additional element is the holdings module while for outdoor, a Geo-locator module needs to be added. We will enhance the platform in tune with market demand.”

“I am a personal believer in print. It is tangible, talks to the mind and holds great creative value as a canvas for fine design and great copy. It also delivers huge audiences every day, in every corner of the world. It will morph, not die. It needs to be positioned, equipped and presented correctly. And the cost model must adapt to a new reality,” declares D’Silva.

While its approvals for print speak volumes of its overall performance and efficiency, D’Silva asserts that BOP is a foot in the door for other media plays, including international, over the next 12 months. With this in mind, the company has already developed its own DSP (Demand Side Platform), trading desk and content platforms for digital media.

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