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How DPG Online Services makes ad sales convenient with CloudSense

DPG Online Services

DPG Online Services brings together all the online service brands of DPG Media.

Results at a glance

  • Product launch time cut from two weeks to an hour
  • Costs reduced by more than 25%
  • Self-service via eCommerce portal
  • Time-consuming manual invoicing replaced with automated process
  • From print, sign and scan – to digital sales order approvals

How CloudSense empowers DPG Online Services with friction-free ad sales on Salesforce

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    DPG Online Services is comprised of four business units, each addressing a specific market: labor, technology, finance and automotive. The websites attract a large, varied customer base and, combined with DPG Media’s extensive publishing titles, give DPG Online Service’s advertisers access to a unique cross-media portfolio.

    In 2016, DPG Online Services set out to replace its ad sales solution so it could continue to effectively engage these audiences across channels, while giving advertisers and employees a more convenient experience.

    DPG Online Services wanted a more flexible system, better suited to its evolving products and processes. The solution also needed to launch, sell and fulfill ad sales on Salesforce, while boosting efficiencies across the customer lifecycle. The CloudSense platform proved a perfect match.

    We spoke to Marvin Walstra, DPG Online Services’ Manager of Back Office Systems Support, about the project and the difference the company has seen since implementing CloudSense.

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    Why DPG Online Services needed a new ad sales platform

    Before the project, DPG Online Services had already invested in Salesforce for its CRM. But its previous ad sales solution had been heavily customized and couldn’t support subscriptions.

    Marvin explained this meant, “The system was becoming less useful year by year for the services and the products that we wanted to sell.” The heavy customization was also the source of a number of problems.

    Expensive upkeep  

    The high level of maintenance needed to keep its old solution working meant DPG Online Services had to outsource some of the work. “Next to that the license costs were already very high. Combined the cost was becoming prohibitive, without giving us the performance needed,” said Marvin.

    Couldn’t benefit from upgrades

     He continued, “We couldn’t benefit from platform upgrades because the custom software prevented us from using new feature tools that were becoming available via upgrades.”

    Slow product innovation

    On top of this, using an outsourced IT resource meant the business couldn’t add new products quickly. “It took two weeks in lead time to add products, because we were not able to do that ourselves, we had to do it via a third party. That was a complex process to go through.”

    These challenges led to a clear criteria

    Together, these challenges left DPG Online Services on the hunt for a Salesforce-native ad sales platform that was as close to out-of-the-box as possible. That way it could avoid over-customization and over-reliance on a partner, while also launching products faster and benefiting from upgrades.

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    Whittling down a shortlist of nearly 40 to one solution

    DPG Online Services left no stone unturned in its search for the right system. After its initial research, the company had a long list of almost 40 solutions, before cutting it down to eight vendors for an RFI.

    Following the RFI, DPG Online Services whittled the contenders down to a shortlist of three. In the end, as Marvin summarized, CloudSense came out on top due to our media knowledge, flexible platform and the promise of a genuine partnership.

    Looking for a partner, not just a vendor

    “Of the three shortlisted, CloudSense showed the best understanding of our business and the media processes in general. We wanted a partner that would work alongside us to advise how to best use and configure the system.”

    He continued, “From what we saw, CloudSense wouldn’t just be a vendor, but a partner. This, combined with the flexibility offered by the CloudSense platform, was the most important factor in us deciding to go for CloudSense.”

    And, today, happily DPG Online Services’ instincts proved correct:

    “It’s not like we bought a system, had it configured to our needs and we no longer see the vendor. Instead, it’s an ongoing partnership. One where both parties are doing their best to get more out of the system, year on year.”

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    A single hub for advertising

    With CloudSense and Salesforce, DPG Online Services has a single advertising sales hub for ad booking, sales and order management across its digital and print portfolio.

    Sales and account managers use the platform to make direct sales for DPG Online Service’s business units. Cross-media orders are completed using CloudSense’s bi-directional integration to Google Ad Manager, giving DPG Online Services auditable, automated and streamlined ad sales on Salesforce.

    Easy self-service and centralized product & pricing

    As well as direct sales, DPG Online Services uses the CloudSense platform to give its customers the option to self-serve online through an eCommerce portal.

    “Our portal lets B2B customers create an account, log on to the system and buy products online. The whole engine behind that product catalog and the pricing is the same CloudSense catalog that we use for direct sales.”

    “So now we have two different sales channels making use of the same underlying media platform and product catalog and prices,” commented Marvin.

    Fulfilling the end-to-end ad sales cycle with CloudSense

    The CloudSense platform runs right through the ad sales lifecycle. This gives DPG Online Services accurate, automated processes – from orders through to invoicing.

    “We not only use the CloudSense platform for the creation of sales orders and booking of orders, we use it for creating invoices. The invoicing details are then sent across to our finance system – closing the end to end loop.”

    Making life more convenient for customers

    After a sales order is created its then automatically booked using customer approval, which only takes a few clicks with CloudSense eSignature. From the confirmed booking, invoices are created and sent to customers automatically.

    Marvin told us this hasn’t just sped up the ad sales lifecycle, but made life easier for customers. “Our customers can now approve sales orders online with eSignature. Customers can directly approve sales orders, without the hassle of printing something, signing it, making a scan and sending it back via email, which they had to do in the past.”

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    The results so far

    So far, CloudSense and DPG Online Services have achieved remarkable results. Right from reducing costs and effort for users, to innovating fast and giving customers a more convenient experience.

    Costs reduced by at least 25%

    “There’s been an extensive reduction in costs, by at least 25%, due to a more efficient platform,” explained Marvin.

    Product launch cut from two weeks, to an hour

    With the previous system, adding new products used to take two weeks, now with CloudSense it takes an hour. “In that sense, our users really benefited from the introduction of the CloudSense platform. Because now, if you have the product defined, within an hour it’s ready to go, so that’s a big plus,” said Marvin.

    Reducing friction for customers and employees with self-service

    Online self-service and digital sales order approvals have increased convenience for DPG Online Services’ employees and customers alike.

    Marvin expanded, “Before the CloudSense integration with the eCommerce portal, all web shop orders had to be processed manually. Now, with that integration with the CloudSense media platform that’s no longer necessary. It has saved a lot of time.”

    From print, sign and scan – to digital sales order approvals

    As well as being able to self-serve, customers can approve orders digitally, Marvin explained how much easier this process has become for customers.

    “In the previous solution, we had to send customers the PDF document via email that they had to print to sign it, scan it again and send it back. Now, with CloudSense eSignature, the process is fully digital. It makes for a much faster sales order approval process and a much simpler experience for customers.”

    “When we went live, within the hour we had the first sales order signed back electronically. That really proved the point of how much we had improved.” 

    Saving time and effort with automated invoicing

    The benefits of automation aren’t just felt in the eCommerce portal and order approval. It’s also saved DPG Online Services time and effort in invoicing.

     Marvin commented, “We offer customers the option to pay via installments. And with the old system, we had to do that manually. If the customer wanted to pay via 12 installments on a monthly basis, per year, there was a manual action. So there had to be 12 invoices created manually. That whole process is now automated. And that’s seen an extensive reduction in manual labor needed for the enforcement part.”

    He continued, “In this area the CloudSense platform has saved us a lot of work and time. The same goes for the crediting with invoices, in particular installment invoices. This again was a manual process that is now fully automated.”

    What’s next?

    To finish, Marvin gave us some insight into how DPG Online Services plan to use CloudSense in the future.

    “One key area we’ll look to continue developing with CloudSense is the self-service side of the platform. We know as an online business this is vital to meet our customers’ expectations.”

    He concluded, “We’ve been impressed by how CloudSense works with us as a partner to see how we can make better use of the media platform. We will continue to do this in all areas as we expand the platform to new users and continue to develop functionality.”

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“CloudSense showed the best understanding of our business and the media processes in general. We wanted a partner that would work alongside us.”

Marvin Walstra, Manager of Back Office Systems Support at DPG Online Services