How did one of the nation’s largest local TV broadcasters improve the accuracy and timeliness of its advertising campaigns? By using a template-based process and flexible integrations, powered by Jotform.
Founded in 1878, the E.W. Scripps Company is one of the oldest diversified media companies in the United States.
Scripps owns 60+ television stations in 41 markets across the U.S. In addition to the national news outlet Court TV, it operates popular entertainment brands like ION, Bounce, Grit, Laff, ION Mystery, Defy TV, and TrueReal. Obsessive logophiles tune into the Scripps National Spelling Bee every year.
That equates to a lot of quality journalism and entertainment that needs to be supported with advertising.
On that note, each station has an account executive who sells digital advertising packages that include everything from display ads to Meta (Facebook) ads to search engine marketing.
The director of ad operations at Scripps, Daniel Blackwell, oversees that advertising effort across every TV station, with the help of his team of over 50 people.
“In general, we have a two business day turnaround to get campaigns set up and launched,” says Blackwell. “As the director, it’s my job to ensure we’re hitting those turnaround times.”
When your needs exceed a spreadsheet management process
When Blackwell joined the Advertising Operations team, they were processing their insertion orders (IOs) through Excel sheets. The data needed to fully execute a digital campaign (i.e., various advertising products, flight dates, contact info, budget, etc.) was getting bogged down in a tool that’s known more for its calculation abilities.
As a result, the team was spending too much time parsing through open-ended fields in which customers tried to specify their own ad buys. Often, the information customers entered on their IOs didn’t match the ad information the team needed to create orders in their system.
According to Blackwell, “there are lots of moving pieces in digital advertising, so you have to be sure you understand exactly what the person is trying to order so the campaign is executed accurately.”
The workflow that was in place hampered his team’s productivity due to unclear data on a platform that wasn’t built to handle advertising buys at scale. This had a waterfall effect on backend communication and the ability to meet deadlines.
“There was a lot of tail chasing and piecing bits of information together over email strings. It ended up taking multiple days,” Blackwell says.
Prioritizing customized templates, connectivity, and usability
As more insertion orders came in, Blackwell and the team put together their wishlist for a new platform to collect orders.
The list consisted of everything they were missing from the Excel sheet process, plus the ability to scale orders.
They looked at form builders that were capable of building an online version of their insertion order. Additionally, since his team relies heavily on Slack for communication and Trello for project management, they wanted strong integration options.
The last key differentiator for Blackwell was the usability of the platform — an important factor with more than 100 stakeholders across sales and operations who needed to input, manage, and act on the order information.
“When you have a group of 60+ TV stations all following the same process, what you want is a way to templatize this and make order creation a lot more efficient and clear,” says Blackwell.
After giving Jotform a spin and seeing first hand the feature-rich form capabilities, all the connectivity options, and how effectively it guides you through the building process, he was ready to make the call.
“I remember telling my team: ‘Let’s go ahead and build a better template-based process through Jotform.’ ”
Unlocking successful results for Scripps Ad Operations group
Once the Ad Operations team was able to collect the necessary order details, including the client’s campaign goals (i.e., conversions, form fills, etc.) — information that was easy to specify in an online form — they could build and optimize the ad campaigns to ensure they met those criteria.
They started by moving their insertion order details, like the digital ad products offered, to an online form. For example, the team created radio buttons that corresponded to their ad packages, so a customer could order only what they offered.
Right off the bat, this simple change was a big improvement and benefitted the teams at Scripps in two important ways:
- It reduced the confusion that came with vague orders and eliminated the ad-hoc email follow-ups for information that was missing in the Excel fields.
- Aligning the proper ad package with Scripps’s internal system increased data accuracy. This streamlined other parts of their workflow, from order fulfillment, to execution, to post-campaign analysis of client goals.
Newly agile and more sustainable
In digital advertising, products are added or updated frequently. So it was important to Blackwell that the platform they chose could adapt to future needs.
For example, back when they used spreadsheets, they would have multiple versions of insertion orders floating around. When it came time for a product update, the upkeep across stakeholders would get chaotic. Therefore it was critical that the team could rely on Jotform to make product changes that fit their business.
“Using Jotform, you have the ability to make the change once for every user,” he added. “Jotform helps us be agile. If we need to introduce a new product, or make revisions to an existing one, we’re able to make changes, publish them, and boom, they’re updated.
“That’s the power of a cloud-based application. You don’t have disparate versions floating out there to worry about. There’s one main source of truth. I’ll pick that 10 out of 10 times versus the old way.”
Front-end connectivity leads to backend productivity
Blackwell’s team has seen a new level of productivity by integrating their IO submissions with the communication and project management hubs of their workflow.
Now, when they receive a new IO, it automatically pings a Slack channel alerting Ad Operations with real-time notifications. This communication is the first step in helping the team achieve their turnaround time, and it has the added benefit of creating a buzz of excitement when new orders flow in.
These critical integrations really help our workflow process. We were able to reduce delays for campaign setup and stay within the two-day turnaround time for campaign execution.Daniel Blackwell, Director of Ad Operations, E.W. Scripps
Simultaneously, when a new order comes in, a Trello card is automatically created, so the team can use Trello to track the life cycle of their campaigns.
When the order hits the submitted column in Trello, the Scripps fulfillment team is alerted. They act on it and subsequently move the order through its life cycle stages, such as “in progress,” “orders being built,” and so on.
In essence, the IO submission is the tipping point that unlocks the ad operations workflow, helping the Scripps sales, operations, and fulfillment teams stay aligned on the complete life cycle of a campaign, and get more done.
“I really like what Jotform has unlocked for my team,” remarked Blackwell. “If you saw all the submissions we have, there are a lot, so it’s been a great benefit to our workflow.”
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