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January 21, 2021

Consulting in Media: Our Journey

John Tanner

Over a decade ago, we witnessed a surge in digital media early adopters, especially publisher networks, who wanted to leverage Salesforce to manage both sides of their business–the traditional ad sales side focused on insertion orders and the publisher network side whose mission was to build revenue-share relationships. Given the generally tech savvy user base in digital media, we were able invest a majority of our energy on creating sound architecture and UX, knowing that adoption would not be an uphill battle. For that reason, Salesforce for digital networks was a great place for us to start before taking on the more complex nature of traditional print publishers.

Having completed many projects with a number of digital networks, our clients began facilitating conversations with executives at more traditional print organizations and sharing their success stories. At that time, display was becoming more prominent but print was still the clear cash cow–and marketers were still trying to figure out the long-term play for mobile. Referrals and endorsements led us to win business with a handful of very well known print publishers, including a project to deploy an end-to-end Salesforce architecture and design across 20+ distinct print titles and digital properties for one of the world's largest publishers of magazine media.

What we quickly learned was that in comparison to pure play digital networks, mixed media publishers posed an exciting challenge: how to architect Salesforce in a manner that simultaneously worked well for both print and digital sales and integrated logically with oftentimes disparate order management systems. In working with larger, more complex organizations, we also discovered that more formal management consulting with a focus on process improvement and change management was critical, and welcomed, and upfront, deep consulting workshops were highly effective prior to finalizing designs and building prototypes. 

In addition to embracing our management consulting approach, these larger media clients operated with a refreshingly firm commitment to corporate governance, providing our team with consistent access to formal and informal executive steering committees. The result was that our teams, in close collaboration with talented client-side counterparts, were able to tackle large-scale deployments involving multiple integrations, large data sets, multiple code bases, hundreds or even thousands of users, prospect-to-cash flow improvements, extensive testing, multi-regional end user training, and consistent change management activities. In an industry where projects are most often under-scoped, we were able to prove that it was possible to deliver CRM for ad sales not only on-time and within budget, but also without business disruption. 

After setting a high watermark for success with some of the larger print organizations, we took on additional segments: agencies, ad tech, sports, television, out-of-home, radio, streaming, content acquisition and rights management, business information providers, among others. Salesforce had now become mainstream for most ad sales organizations regardless of size. In the past few years, Media has continued to prove to be extremely complex and nuanced in comparison to other industries looking to leverage a platform like Salesforce for ad sales and we have enjoyed the challenge in developing designs to apply to different industry segments and revenue models.

Who were the first ad sales customers to get on the Salesforce platform? While we cannot say definitively, we can assert that V2 was at the forefront of working with some of those companies, designing and deploying some of the most complex and successful ad sales CRM platforms to date, spanning a range of sectors in media. Many years into our consulting work for well-known global brands, we are still growing and learning through interactions with new and existing clients. We believe at this juncture of our firm’s evolution, we bring a reasonably well-informed and proven perspective on the topic of Salesforce for ad sales. Unfortunately, we have observed in recent years a wave of poorly launched deployments which, in our opinion, are largely due to media organizations choosing to invest too few internal resources or electing to partner with consulting organizations who lack proven experience in media. In the world of complex media process flows, data and integrated platforms, cutting corners is oftentimes a recipe for failure and frustration. Our perspective is that Salesforce can be an end-to-end solution for media organizations but it’s important to invest the proper time, money, and resources if you want to build a world-class, Salesforce-centric cloud architecture.

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John Tanner

John Tanner

John Tanner is a physics major turned technologist and entrepreneur with more than 20,000 hours of consulting in the Salesforce marketplace. He’s founded three Salesforce companies in the United States, Europe, and Latin America and has architected solutions for clients spanning more than 20 industry segments. He currently serves as CEO of V2.

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