The Boston Globe is a leading American newspaper and recipient of more than 25 Pulitzer Prizes. With several hundred thousand readers across their digital and print properties, The Globe offers high-quality inventory for advertisers, especially in the Greater Boston area. As part of the publisher’s digital transformation strategy, The Globe knew that they wanted to find a streamlined and cost-effective way to serve small-to-medium sized businesses (SMBs) in an automated, brand-safe environment.
Hi Andrew – great to have you. Could you tell us a little about how The Boston Globe decided to invest in self-serve as an advertising strategy?
Sure! Really we arrived at this conclusion by looking at trends in the SMB advertising
market and observing the migration of SMBs to self-service advertising via “The
Platforms” like Google, Facebook, and Amazon. We believe publishers of all sizes can
adopt similar strategies to attract self-service media buys within their brand-safe
environments across a host of differentiated products.
What were you looking to achieve with a self-serve platform?
We wanted to both provide a streamlined experience for our existing ad buyers looking
to expedite ad buys on their own timelines and schedules and also to reach new and lapsed customers. The sheer accessibility and simplicity of the self-serve platform open
up our Inventory and potential new products to a much broader range of buyers.
How easy was it to implement this new technology?
Like any new tool, change doesn’t happen overnight. It’s not simply about plugging in a new technology; we also had to rethink how we sell advertising inventory across the board. But with that said, it’s been a relatively smooth process, and that’s thanks to incredible support we’ve had from all our various internal departments. Tech, finance, sales, marketing, ad ops, legal, and senior management – getting everyone aligned was a huge win that really allowed us to drive the project forward.
What were the biggest challenges you faced?
Throughout the self-service evaluation process, there were many business
considerations to evaluate during the sign-off process. Our first biggest consideration
was an investigation into the profitability and revenue expectations of the platform.
Crucial to getting that internal buy-in was creating a business case that demonstrated
the efficiency gains, and new business potential, of an automated ad-buying system.
From there, we built a thoughtful business development plan that our sales team was
aligned on– it’s critical that self-serve acts as a tool to help our sales team and clients.
And the last main conversation was around resourcing– you can have a vision, but most
importantly, you need to have a team that can build and rolls out the product. We have
a lot of different exciting projects going on at Boston Globe Media, and we are really
excited that self-service is now one of them.
What is the status of your self-serve business today?
Right now we’re still in beta testing, and we’ve received some really great feedback. Account setup has been super easy, and now we’re making small tweaks to product wording and creative options to really make for a straightforward checkout experience. Our projections are looking positive and we expect this project to have a meaningful impact on revenue and allow our sales representatives more time to focus on larger, integrated accounts.
What advice would you give a media owner considering self-serve?
Self-serve is a long road that will have lots of trials and learnings. As a company you have to be comfortable skating to where the puck is going, investing in a system that provides efficiency, new business opportunities, and rigorously trying and testing techniques of growing adoption.
Thanks for your time, Andrew!
Looking for a more comprehensive breakdown of The Boston Globe’s self-serve business? You’re in luck – download the full case study here.