Tools: to buy, build or go without

I’d like a tool that lets us track the lifecycle of an advertisement that appears in the paper or online.

Ideally it would come into use when we first receive the ad request, and track the gathering of information needed to create a design, the creation of the design(s), the process of getting advertiser approval, and then tracking that the ad has actually run. It would need to have a great advertiser-facing interface, but the reality is that we’d probably just use it internally most of the time.

There are lots of tools like this out there, but they all seem aimed at larger agencies and publications and are typically out of our price range. My inclination is to create something custom, but that has its own costs.

As a small publisher, I feel like we end up in that position a lot. There’s a purpose-built tool out there aimed at larger organizations and that would cost us too much, but we’re ready to be a little more sophisticated than what can be strung together with free or low-cost options.

I suppose it puts us in a good position to innovate/create new solutions and maybe even share those with others in the same situation. But all of that takes time, something we don’t have nearly enough of.

Chris Hardie is a journalist, newspaper publisher, software developer and entrepreneur based in Indiana, USA. Read more from Chris on this site, learn more on his personal website, subscribe for updates or follow Chris on Mastodon.

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