Saying Goodbye to “Price Check, Register 7“

In many ways, the process of checking out in the television advertising business has been no different from a 1970s supermarket...until now.
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My station is now receiving orders via ePort, the electronic bridge created by the Television Bureau of Advertising to facilitate buyer/seller transactions. While the foundation for this program has been established, there is still tremendous upside for your station...if you make the effort.

Before I address the steps you need to take to maximize the long-term benefits of embracing ePort, let“s step back in time to a different decade, and another industry.

Think back to grocery shopping in the 1970s.

Back then, a trip to the supermarket consisted of two main elements: shopping and checking out. The first part hasn“t changed over the years; consumers still push wheeled carts throughout stores, selecting items that will grace the kitchen table at dinnertime.

However, the checkout element changed forever on June 26, 1974, at Marsh“s Supermarket in Troy, Ohio.

On that date, a clerk scanned a 10-pack of Wrigley“s Juicy Fruit chewing gum that contained the now-ubiquitous UPC bar code, and the rest was checkout history.



INEFFICIENCY ELIMINATED

Gone were the days of price checks, which sent Johnny the Bag Boy scurrying back to the soup aisle to look up the price of Campbell“s Cream of Mushroom, all because the little price sticker fell off the can somewhere on its way to the register. Retailers recognized the inefficiency of such efforts as customers and clerks stood silently, waiting for Johnny to eventually run back to the register to announce the product“s cost.

The widespread adoption of Universal Product Codes and scanners solved the problem of missing price stickers.

In the process, it eliminated the process of manually entering those prices into the cash register itself.

Inefficiencies were eliminated by technology, allowing for faster transactions and greater human productivity.

In many ways, the process of checking out in the television advertising business has been no different from a 1970s supermarket...until now. When you consider how much time the typical TV salesperson spends on paperrelated transaction activities (printing, filing, faxing, etc.), in some ways they“re no different than the Johnny described above.

Can“t read the faxed order? Better call the buyer, and have them resend it. Makegood proposals are handwritten onto agency forms and manually faxed, a process that is followed by voicemails, e-mails, and a new round of data entry by your salespeople.

Is this the best we can do?



INTERFACING WITH EPORT

That“s why ePort is a better solution. To completely understand its role, you have to look at its development as two separate projects“with the first one having been executed over the past year. ePort“s open standards design means it can work with any buying or selling software system.


The second project was the creation of the electronic transport system. By facilitating the transport of standard documents online between trading partners, ePort becomes the interface as well as the archive. You just need a Web browser to access ePort at www.tvbeport.net. Anyone can register to use the system“from global mega-agencies, to solo media buying shops. In fact, widespread acceptance has already been achieved from the agency and media buying community. Users of Strata, Mediaplex, One Domain, and Donovan are among those offering support for this initiative.



FUTURE FUNCTIONALITY

While orders, revisions, and makegoods are among the existing capabilities of ePort, I“m excited by what“s on the horizon. Testing is under way to allow for multiplatform orders, including the sale of digital subchannel, Web and mobile orders, and other non-airtime assets.

Other enhancements include avail requests, log times and discrepancy reports.

New revenue streams are critical to the growth of our industry. We“ve got to make it easier for the buying community to embrace our new media assets, and ePort can serve as a conduit to make it happen. It“s human nature“buyers are going to lean towards media that are easy to buy! We need to find ways to free our salespeople from the proverbial shackles of paper shuffling. The successful adoption of ePort into the buying and selling process will give both parties more time to do what they do best.

Do that, and the revenue will follow.

What you need to do at your station:

  • Establish an Organization Administrator
  • Create user names and passwords for all managers, sellers, and sales assistants
  • Set up training!


Your station will be receiving promotional materials from the Television Bureau of Advertising this month that explains the newest enhancements to the service in greater detail. In the meantime, it“s easy to review the Web site and watch the online video tutorials.

It took about 20 years for the combination of UPC symbols and bar code scanners to become ubiquitous in every grocery store checkout in America. We don“t have that luxury. Make the time to learn about ePort, and then show an agency buyer why it“s good for them, too.

In the end, your bottom line (and your salespeople) will thank you.