Digital Tear Sheets Revisited

I love lots of aspects of online marketing, especially the satisfaction that comes with showing a client a post report highlighting the direct correlation between my work and sales. But there are still too many details involving online ad implementation that drive me batty.

One especially frustrating issue is our inability to easily merchandise our work product among clients. I mean demonstrating online ad work in real time, in an online environment. This issue is rearing its ugly head again, as our shop recently implemented a number of geotargeted programs that are generating great results. Problem is, we can’t easily show off the work to the client. Its corporate office is in a market where there’s no current ad support.

I discussed tear sheets in early 2003. Quite frankly, I’m surprised it’s still an issue. Maybe it doesn’t show up as a major service issue among annual client satisfaction surveys administered by the major portals, but I have to think smart publishers would take the concept and run with it. It has the potential to become a huge service differentiator.

Sure, we can set up dummy pages on our servers, or grab static screen shots and throw them into a PowerPoint deck. Some publishers are even kind enough to offer access to their development environment to allow limited-time viewing of the work. But there’s a short window to get the link to the client and get it viewed when the publisher wants to quickly move on to the next campaign on its dev server.

Some publishers are trying to remedy the situation with end-user solutions, but it’s difficult to expect a client to set up a browser to view work. To show you just how crazy it is, here are the instructions we received to allow a client to view the creative as if the client was within the targeted market:

  1. Go to this link: http://adstest.publisher.com/RealMedia/ads/cookieset.html

  2. Copy and paste the cookie below:

    cookie: 7749_CLIENT_BHAM_TEST

  3. Click “update cookie,” then click “proceed to adstest”
  4. Once you get that page, type in “30307” in the zip code and that will pull up our website
  5. Then go to the web address area in your browser, remove “www” and replace it with “adstest” (so it should state “adstest.publisher.com…”)
  6. Refresh the page.

Yikes! Not too many clients I know would have the patience to follow this process for several sites. They certainly would not forward it to their bosses.

How We Can Easily Fix This

Wouldn’t it be great to know that once your campaign was implemented, you could count on the following from each site on the plan?

  • Your rep sends you a set of links to a secure server where your client and you could view a set of pages where the campaign appears.

  • The links stay active for 90 days, so the client has ample time to send them around internally.
  • A set of pages features each ad unit size and type of placement in 100 percent rotation.
  • The pages have real-time editorial content.
  • There’s a small nav bar at the top of the page with “forward” and “back” buttons so the client can easily navigate through the pages.
  • The publisher could even note “Brought to you as service from XYZ Publication” on the page to allow the publication a little merchandising opportunity in front of the client.

Am I crazy to think this is too difficult? I certainly appreciate this task isn’t a direct revenue-generating activity for the publisher. But the perception of added value would translate into happier clients. This is something we’ll be adding to our RFP process.

Let me know your opinion.

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