News

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    The European Users Meeting Goes Virtual

    A few weeks ago, we talked about our amazing users and the U.S.-based Advantage Users Group. While all Advantage users are welcome to attend the U.S. conference, we typically hold a separate event---the European Users Meeting---for our users in Europe, the U.K., and Ireland. 

    As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to shape the “new normal” and make traveling more complicated, we’ve decided to shift this year’s European Users Meeting online. While we are disappointed that we will not have the opportunity to see so many of our European clients in person, we are optimistic that this will allow more users to attend---virtually, that is!

    This year's European Users Meeting is tentatively scheduled for September 28 - October 1, 2020 via Microsoft Teams (one ~2 hour session per day; exact …



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    Welcome Interns of Summer

    We are delighted to welcome our summer interns and look forward to meeting them face-to-face when the office fully opens.

       

    Margaret Ehinger

    Your hometown?

    Ypsilanti, MI

    College and major?

    Undergrad: University of Michigan – Mathematics. Masters (ongoing): Eastern Michigan University – Mathematics.

    What led you to choose your major?

    I always liked math and I liked the small class sizes at UM’s math department. 

    What are you working on at ACS?

    I’ll be helping out with the rewrite of the support page and switching Cider from Orchard to Orchard Core.

    What do you enjoy doing outside of work/school? 

    I enjoy gardening (let me know if you want any basil or oregano plants!), cooking, and hiking.

    What are you most looking forward to doing when the stay-at-home restrictions are …



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    JBJS Goes live on Advantage

    Congratulations to The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery (JBJS) who is now live on Advantage and Cider (https://storefront.jbjs.org/) after an implementation project spanning more than a year.

    The primary focus of the project was Cider as that is what most people at JBJS use with only a few users regularly accessing the Advantage desktop application. Another unique aspect is that print subscriptions sold by JBJS are fulfilled by another AdvantageCS client, Wolters Kluwer Health, and customer service is shared between Wolters Kluwer Health and JBJS.

    The company is headquartered in Needham, Massachusetts, and The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery has been a valued source of information for orthopaedic surgeons and researchers for over 125 years---their comprehensive archive dates back to 188 …



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    Making Merry in December

    Cookie Decorating Contest

     

    Holiday spirit was on display in abundance at AdvantageCS this December.

    The month kicked off with a cookie decorating contest. If it didn't turn out like you envisioned, you could just eat the evidence. There was cold milk and hot chocolate to enjoy along with the entries.

    Sock Exchange

    Ten women participated in a sock exchange with each one bringing a pair of holiday socks filled with little treats and goodies. 

     

    They were passed around the table either to the left or right by following directions from a special story. When they reached their final stopping place, everyone untied the ribbon and looked inside.  They found lots of candy and chocolate, ornaments, scented lotion, candles, nail polish, a manicure set and even a small bottle of …



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    Trends in the Publishing Industry - 2019, Part 3

    (This is a recap in three parts of the presentation made at the European Users Advantage meeting in Lisbon on 26-27 September 2019. Read Part 1 here and Part 2 here.)

    Part 3

    New momentum, new strategies

    2019 was the year of the podcast. Media coverage of this topic has been extensive. More and more publishers have launched podcasts but will this really save the sector? Alongside the well-known ones, such as the New York Times Daily or the Guardian, some Advantage clients have developed their own. Bayard Presse just launched its own for 7 to 11-year-olds, and De Telegraaf also has one.

    However, publishers are entering a competitive field where they are not necessarily in the best position. There are radio stations, especially public ones (Radio France, the BBC ...) whose programs …



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    Trends in the Publishing Industry - 2019

    (This is a recap in three parts of the presentation made at the European Users Advantage meeting in Lisbon on 26-27 September 2019)

    Part 1 (of 3)

    A year ago, at the  Advantage European User meeting  in Paris, I first presented  the major trends in the publishing industry, identified from various conferences, visits to prospects and customers and a close monitoring of the industry. I mentioned the rapid shift of subscriber portfolios to digital, new topics such as retention, print resistance, GAFA divorce and new tactical approaches to circulation and reader relationships. A year later, I wondered if I repeated the experience, could I hope for something new? To my surprise, the answer was yes. In less than a year, some themes have reached a new phase, others have accelerated their …



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    Plan to attend AUG February 26-28 in Austin, Texas

    Join your fellow Advantage users in Austin, TX next February for a fantastic time of learning, sharing, networking and fun! The conference will be at the Omni Austin Hotel Downtown and there are lots of fun things to do close by. You won’t want to miss it!

    Mark your calendar now---details of the conference will be coming soon.



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    Addressing Expanding Regulations for Auto-Renewal Consent

    Automatic renewal arrangements are popular and beneficial for both companies and consumers. Customers are saved the trouble of having to continually take actions to keep their subscription active, while companies improve their retention rates and forecasting abilities.

    However, in the last few years, the legal environment has become more restrictive on automatic renewal arrangements. There’s been a push at national and state levels (Vermont being the most recent state) to better inform and protect customers from accidentally entering into long-term subscription service agreements, as well as enabling them to cancel out. It’s important for companies to be aware of, and plan for, complying with these regulations.

    Fortunately, we have experience handling auto-renewal features, having …



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    Conversations with Clients

    Last year, we launched a blog post series called “Conversations with Clients,” a way for us to get to know our partners at client companies a little better. We were delighted to have a conversation with Steve Searle at Air Business Subscriptions.  

    Based in Haywards Heath, UK, Air Business Subscriptions is a leading service bureau for both B2C and B2B publishers, and has been in business for 40 years. They began implementing Advantage in 2016, and the team at Air Business is now in the process of moving additional existing publishers from their legacy system onto Advantage. They are also working on an exciting piece of new business, a scholarly publisher for whom they will be completing a two-phase migration through 2019.

     

    (Steve Searle is pictured (on the left) alongside AdvantageCS’ …



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    Stephanie Widrig: Responsive, Resourceful, and Reliable

    Now in her seventh year at AdvantageCS, Stephanie Widrig is a member of the Program Services team. She began her AdvantageCS career in the implementations group and had a brief stint in support before joining Program Services over 4 years ago. Everyone who works with Stephanie comments on how speedily she responds, how well she communicates, and how she always knows the right answer or else finds it. These qualities make her a sought-after manager of upgrade---and other---projects.

    “I enjoyed working with Stephanie on our latest upgrade,” says Christy Westcott of Unity World Headquarters. “She was consistently prompt in replying to any of our needs during the process. Her communication is always clear and concise. I look forward to working with her again.”

    Although upgrades and …



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    Welcome New Employee Curt Silverthorn

    We are pleased to welcome Curt Silverthorn, the newest member of the Product Development group led by Paul Sauter.

    A recent graduate of the University of Michigan, Curt earned a Bachelor of Science degree in computer science from the school of engineering. Curt intended to major in mechanical engineering, but when he took his first computer programming class, he was hooked. One aspect of programming he enjoys is putting together small pieces into a larger whole.

    Curt grew up in Yale, a small town in the “thumb” area of Michigan. His parents and younger sister, Kristine—now a junior in high school—still live there. Curt currently shares an apartment with a roommate in Whitmore Lake.

    Outside of work, Curt likes being outdoors, especially hiking, hunting and camping. Just before …



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    Is Advantage right for you?

    Ten ways to tell if Advantage is right for you

    You are a publisher of one or more of the following: magazines, journals, digital content, newsletters, newspapers, data, eBooks, or print books.

    You need your system to manage one or more of the following: subscriptions, membership, donations, consortia sales, entitlements, packages and bundles, conferences and events, book clubs, standing orders, commissions, royalties, or telesales.

    You market multiple offerings to the same audience and building customer loyalty is crucial for you.

    Your marketers need immmediate execution of their eCommerce promotions.

    Your business rules are unique and perhaps complex.

    The lifetime value of your average customer is high.

    You need to integrate with other applications seamlessly and are looking …



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    “Think Scholarly, Act Like a Shoemaker”

    How’s that for an intriguing title? That was the name of our Executive Director of Clients & Products, Mona Hidayet’s presentation at The Magazine Innovation Center's ACT (Amplify, Clarify and Testify) 8 conference in Oxford, Mississippi. This year's conference was themed "Print Proud, Digital Smart," was led by Mr. Magazine himself, Dr. Samir Husni. The audience comprised thought leaders in publishing, marketing, printing, advertising, and distribution, and Mona encouraged them to look to the Scientific, Technical and Medical (STM) sector for inspiration. She asserted that STM publishers are more effective than non-scholarly publishers when it comes to balancing their print and digital portfolios for three key reasons:

    1) Digital Content — STM content is time---not issue---based. …



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    Congratulations to Bob Gray: Soon-to-Be-Retiree

        

    Bob Gray has the distinction of having more years of seniority at AdvantageCS than the company has been in business. That’s because Bob was working at one of the firms that merged to become T & B Computing (the original name of AdvantageCS) and was able to count his years of service there when T & B Computing was formed.

    In his 40+ years here, Bob has witnessed remarkable changes in operating systems, programming languages and software technology. When he first began his career in computing, he programmed in Fortran for a mainframe computer, even using card decks on occasion, and had to debug using core dumps (or hex dumps). Access to the computer was through shared terminals in a terminal room, where they were connected via phone modems running 300 baud. Reports and data were …



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    Congratulations to Karl Davis: Soon-to-Be Retiree

    Karl Davis started at AdvantageCS nearly 34 years ago, as a programmer/analyst assigned to what was then called the CIR development team. He spent 20 years on that team, 15 or so as its leader, until he was named to head up the newly-formed Engineering Consulting and Implementations team. That has been Karl’s home for the past 14 years.

    Dan Heffernan knew Karl before he joined AdvantageCS. “I was a housemate of Karl’s in 1983. Karl has always been meticulous, as well as precise, neat and tidy. So, when another housemate changed his oil in Karl’s garage and then proceeded to spill some on the floor and back the car out leaving dark, oily tire marks down the driveway--- well, it was all Karl could do to keep from destroying the driveway and re-paving it! Only the cost stopped him. Our …



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    The Advantage Support Center: Always At Your Service

    This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Advantage Support Center as it exists today. Prior to 1998, support was handled by the analyst teams, who also managed implementation projects and software upgrades, plus account management and training. With that model, however, team members often found themselves juggling conflicting priorities between their various roles. The solution was to form a team of analysts and engineers entirely devoted to support.

    The center now has a full-time staff of four, plus a manager, and analysts from other teams help on occasion. Depending on the client and the issue, any one of half-dozen engineering teams provides technical assistance. Twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year, the Advantage Support Center is available and its staff is eager to help. …



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    Conversations with Clients

    A team from Mediahuis (based in Antwerp, Belgium) recently visited AdvantageCS to work on integration requirements and specs. You can't have first-time visitors to Ann Arbor without sampling some Zingermans! Here, (L to R) Jurgen Van den Broeck, Johan Thijsen, our own Mike Hasey and Jo Samyn enjoy the renowned pimento cheese and bacon macaroni and cheese at Zingerman's Roadhouse.  

    Jo was kind enough to answer some questions so that we could get to know her better. 

    Jo Samyn, Mediahuis

    What is your name and current title?

    My name is Jo Samyn, I am Application Manager, Media Services Readers Market.

    Where in the world do you call home?

    I live in Haacht, a tiny village near Louvain, Belgium, at about 30 kilometers from the capital.

    What led you to your current position at …



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    A Sure Sign of Spring: Trade Show Fever

     

    It’s as reliable as seeing the first robins and crocuses---when the schedule starts filling up with trade shows (some on the same dates), you know Spring is almost here. The AdvantageCS team will be attending, sponsoring, and exhibiting this Spring at conferences in the US, the UK and Europe.

    First up is Digital Innovators Summit, March 18-20, in Berlin. DIS has the goal of helping legacy magazine publishers adapt to the digital era. Over the years, DIS has evolved to consider innovations across a range of content-driven media and related industries. Today, DIS attracts some 600+ delegates from over 35 countries. Come visit with Dan Heffernan and Philippe van Mastrigt at Stand 2h.

    Next, is the UKSG (United Kingdom Serials Group) Annual Conference, April 9-11 in Glasgow. This annual …



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    Extensibility Services in Advantage

    Advantage offers many integration options within a technical ecosystem. One of those is done through Advantage’s Extensibility Services framework. This framework allows our clients to create custom implementations of standard interfaces (e.g., address hygiene). This approach is an integral part of AdvantageCS’s open system strategy.

    The mechanics of the framework are straightforward: Advantage provides the extensibility service contract and interface files while the developer provides the implementation of the service. The service itself could be local to the Advantage software, distributed on a network, or web-based. In contrast, Advantage also supports many out-of-the-box point-to-point integrations to specific vendor packages (e.g., CyberSource for credit card transactions).

    The …



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