New Hampshire publisher reaping bene ts of real-time business apps
It’s been nearly two years since The Keene Publishing Co. in western New Hampshire upgraded all of its business software to an integrated platform, and the publisher said it is seeing big benefits from having done so.
Keene — which produces its flagship, The Keene Sentinel as well as a handful of commercial jobs — is now using software from Vision Data. The new software replaced a number of disparate systems it had implemented over the years, and moved Keene to a centralized platform to manage advertising ad circulation, sales, CRM, pagination, layout, ad tracking and Web-enabled self service functionality.
The transition was the culmination of a thorough evaluation of software providers that led the publisher to Vision Data.
“We went through a number of changes with our legacy systems, which were made up of a mix of digital and analog applications that had become very expensive to maintain,” Chris Carreira, director of information services and support for Keene Publishing told News & Tech. “Some of the customer service pieces were upgraded to Windows GUI-based systems, and on the other end financial systems were still analog-based. When we began looking at new systems, my biggest concern was finding a single database on the back end that could consolidate all of that.”
That search led Carreira to Vision Data, which offered integrated back-end business software.
He visited newspapers in New Hampshire and Michigan that were using the software to evaluate various pieces of the vendor’s offerings.
“At the time, Vision Data was upgrading to a brand new GUI, Windows-based interface and it was a very attractive software package that tied all of their applications together,” Carreira recalled. “We then became the first site to install all of it.”
The publisher opted for a hosted installation with redundancy via two offsite servers and a fiber-optic connection to Vision Data servers.
The applications installed include Vision Total Advertising, Vision Total Circulation, Vision Web Classified and Commercial Account Management, Vision Web-Sales CRM, and Vision Total Layout.
Real-time functionality key
Keene has realized tremendous advantages, according to Carreira, which he credits to the fact that all of the newspaper’s business operations are now taking place in real time.
“Newspapers typically process all transactions during the day and then run batches for jobs at night to update all of their financials,” he said. “With Vision Data this all happens in real time, so any ad sale or other
transaction is available and can be seen immediately. The real-time aspect is really key.”
The classified app allows 24/7 self-service options for advertisers to place ads, rerun ads, view statements and electronic tearsheets, and pay their bills online.
The sales and CRM app, meanwhile, allows outside sales staff to immediately place ads via browser tools. It integrates with Vision Ad Tracking to streamline production and allow sales reps and advertisers to monitor the entire ad-creation process.
Keene’s circulation app also provides self-service functionality via the Web, allowing readers to access and manage their own subscriptions, and newspaper carriers to manage deliveries.
Rounding out the package, the layout application provides final automated output design with an Adobe InDesign plug-in for layout and pagination, Vision Data said.
New savings, new products
With its soup-to-nuts solution in place, Keene Publishing has realized significant savings.
“It’s half of what we were paying for all of our other disparate systems,” Carreira said. “From a real-time point of view, ad revenue is up 9 percent.”
The new software also laid the groundwork to launch several new revenue-generating products that cater to new audiences. Tuning into its social channels has helped the publisher attract reader segments that haven’t been traditional newspaper customers and create products to serve them.
Among the products that are attracting new customers are three new print magazines. Elf Magazine, is a weekly based on regional activities; Fiddlehead, is a monthly dedicated to natural and sustainable living; and Monadnock Table, a bi-monthly that focuses on local farming and growing your own food.
Keene has outsourced printing of Elf, which produces 40,000 copies per week. It has also outsourced printing of monthly magazines Fiddlehead and Monadnock Table, with circulations of 30,000 and 10,000 copies, respectively.
With the insights afforded by the Vision Data software, Carreira said the publisher can better target potential advertisers and better serve those advertisers by anticipating which weeks will be the most beneficial ad buys.
“For us, an integrated software package for all aspects of our core business is working,” Carreira said. “We are now concentrating on the social aspects of our business. We’ve changed the technology and culture to think in real time, and we’re integrating the business aspects to social diversity and what people want to read, day to day.”