Classified secrets

May 18, 2012 By Steven R. Peck

Our internal system changeover for the 'want ads' is more or less complete

Readers are noticing a new look to the Ranger classified advertising pages this week.

We're in our first days going "live" with an updated classified ad management and production system. The change has become necessary as older computer hardware and classified advertising programming have become out of date. The old system served us well, but outside support for it had all but disappeared. It was time for an upgrade.

The word "upgrade" is relative, of course. Many people who have undergone a wholesale computer and software changeover would dispute whether much of anything has been upgraded, especially at the beginning, when the learning curve is steep. In the early stages of this process, the word "up" applies more to the blood pressure of the affected Ranger staff than it does to the "grade" of the system.

We've been entering and re-entering the ads, testing the software and adjusting the technical specifications.

Classifieds are simple advertisements, but they pose a challenge to newspapers that other ads don't. Because some ads run just once and others run for days or weeks at a time, often under the same classification, entering, scheduling and billing can be more complicated for the $2 "for sale" ad than for the full-page retail business ad with color. Computerized classified systems help streamline the process.

The goal in publication is for the readers and advertisers to enjoy a seamless transition in which the only apparent change is the somewhat different appearance of the classified pages. "Seamless transition" hardly has been the case in internally, however. We make a point today of noting the very demanding process endured by the advertising and production staffs and note with particular gratitude the above-and-beyond effort of Luanne Luther and Ruth Urbigkeit in plowing through the many difficulties as we got this up and -- albeit a bit slowly -- running.

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