If you work with ads in your publication, you know how difficult it is to manage them. Even if you don’t work with ads, you can imagine the complexity of keeping track of their status and location, as well as positioning them in the publication. It’s a live-action dance that doesn’t end until publication deadline.
One of the most successful solutions to this challenge is MEI’s Ad Layout System. Their description does better justice to it than I can, so here it is:
You have complete control and can automate as much or as little of the layout process as you require. ALS builds runsheets and dummies, creates ad stacks according to specific page gravity and generates reports based on cost and issue information. You can manage ad placement by advertising ratios and color press configuration while monitoring placement of ads that require special consideration (such as coupon ads or ads that must run in specific sections).
ALS supports unlimited ad types and as many import maps as necessary, including bringing over late inserts, updates and kills from your order-entry system. Information such as ad name, number, size, color, coupon status, market, advertiser, requested section or page and pickup instructions are poured directly into a the runsheet. And with the new Innovative Ads module, you can even incorporate ads with unique, polygonal shapes or multiple layers directly into the ALS runsheet and workflow.
Once the issue is set and the ads are imported, you can automatically flow them all at once, letting ALS choose the spots based on your rules. You can also drag ads out of the runsheet individually, or use the Layout palette to direct them in specific ways, such as a group of ads to be distributed evenly throughout a section.
It can be tough to determine how many pages are required to satisfy advertising and editorial goals, particularly when some of the ads aren’t in yet. ALS streamlines that task even before ad layout begins. The Pagination Manager can calculate optimal issue size based on criteria you set, such as existing and projected ad linage, minimum page count, budgeted editorial-only pages and target ad ratios. The powerful Color Configuration Manager lets you define and store unlimited press configurations, complete with setup and runtime costs, so you can quickly determine the impact of any color request. With ALS, you make intelligent pagination decisions that cover all the “what-ifs.”
MEI’s FiFi XT has also been updated for QuarkXPress 9. FiFi quickly restores file path information for graphic and ad files after the ad map has been opened in QuarkXPress, eliminating the need to manually link any remaining empty ad boxes to their appropriate digital files.
Arthur C. Clarke famously wrote: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” To me, MEI’s Ad Layout System looks like magic…
Jay Nelson is the editorial director of PlanetQuark.com, and the editor and publisher of Design Tools Monthly. He’s also the author of the QuarkXPress 8 and QuarkXPress 7 training titles at Lynda.com, as well as the training videos Quark includes in the box with QuarkXPress 7 . In addition, Jay writes regularly for Macworld and Photoshop User magazines and speaks at industry events.