Claire Stetten

Spotlight on Annual Advantage Users Group 2024

The Advantage Users Group (AUG) met in St. Petersburg, Florida, for 3 days of software learning, sharing best business practices, and networking among leading publishing companies. 

Prior to the main conference, a Management Roundtable involving leaders and executives took place. The roundtable is designed to foster discussions around high-level business trends and allows us to gain in-depth understanding of our clients’ strategies and challenges. Bryan Varblow, Executive VP of Operations, notes that, “it's vital we see and anticipate trends so that our software meets those client needs when they get there.”

Day 1

Philippe van Mastrigt, Director of European Operations, and Dan Heffernan, VP and Chief Product Manager, provided updates on company news, industry trends, strategy, and direction. Philippe's research showed that industry trends are showing a slowdown in digital subscriptions and podcast growth while paper and distribution costs continue to impact traditional publishers. More than ever, finding a viable model (or models) remains challenging. Dan described the future strategy of AdvantageCS, which includes increased payment processor support, a continued partnership with sub(x)-- a next-gen platform offering an AI-based platform to eliminate A/B testing for customer acquisition, renewals, and retention. Our exciting new partnership with CDS Global in the U.S. was also discussed.

Client-led discussion about financial forecasting was led by Informa, who uses advanced analytic reporting techniques based on Advantage data. Representatives from The Agora led a discussion about Single Sign-On (SSO) techniques and challenges from both an internal business perspective and a customer-based one (e.g., Advantage’s single sign-on (SSO) integration).

Day 2

John Sheehy, Chief Solutions Architect, began the second conference day by talking about product news. The discussion covered Advantage's internal development allocation across various platform areas, while highlighting new features from the last 12 months. Those include enhancements to the overall UI/UX of the software, enhancing the digital subscription framework for greater efficiencies and performance, and enhancements to Advantage's open system strategy. John also discussed the release of Cider Plus, which is the next generation of Advantage's eCommerce platform, initially launched in 2023.

Two more client discussions occurred: one led by Wolters Kluwer discussing EU VAT challenges and one by Mary Ann Liebert’s discussing the ever-changing open access and read-and-publish models.

Day 3

Matt Varblow, Executive VP of Engineering, opened the third day by providing key technology updates. Those included the ongoing efforts to expand Advantage's REST API, new email service provider (ESP) integrations, and increased integration support with Microsoft's PowerBI platform. Matt also highlighted important security and performance improvements that AdvantageCS is committed to, ensuring our platforms are safe and stable.

Tim Dodge from The Agora wrapped up the conference leading a workshop on multitude capabilities of workflow events--Advantage's real-time eventing feature. Tim shared incredibly useful real-world examples of how this powerful framework can be used to automate many operational tasks as well as ensure Advantage is connected to other systems in a complex environment.

The AUG chair responsibilities are transferring from Vince Yesenosky (Mary Ann Liebert) to co-chairs Kate Zamonsky (The Agora) and Erin Westergaard (CDS Global). We look forward to seeing you at the next Advantage Users Group conference!

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