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Here's how one company is using business rules to manage advertising pricing

One of the challenges for a newspaper, magazine or TV channel is how to generate precise ad prices quickly in high volume and extremely complex situations. In many of these situations the volume and contractual complexity makes it hard, if not impossible, to provide customers with immediate price quotes. A magazine or newspaper must consider many factors such as placement, color usage, geographic coverage, creative, size,
frequency, space availability, time of year and so on. A TV channel must consider a similar set of factors. The magazine in question found that its advertising managers were not spending their time on overall management of the advertising business but were spending 100% calculating prices for their sales team.

What they wanted as a system that let the sales team enter information about an ad request and then get a quote that met the guidelines and pricing rules so they could confidently present it to the customer. To do this they used Blaze Advisor to create a pricing service that allowed the sales team to fill out a form and get either a quote or a referral to one of the managers. The service used rules that were developed by the advertising managers using a rule maintenance application. This allowed them to manage the rules in the service without having to get IT involved in each change (because the pricing rules change quickly and because the ad managers get asked for new combinations for which new rules are required). Not only did this allow sales people to deal with more customers (thanks to more rapid price quotes) it also allowed them to deal with the customers more directly and to do what-if discussions with the customer to find the ideal ad package for them. Meanwhile the ad managers were able to free up 30% of their time to manage the overall ad portfolio/performance across the magazine.

These benefits are pretty typical:

  • Front-line staff get automated decisions that reflect the best know-how of internal experts (precision)
  • All quotes for the same kinds of ads are the same preventing bad feeling/confusion between agents and customers (consistency)
  • The pricing model can be changed and evolved rapidly by the experts themselves (agility)
  • Customers and front-line staff get more of a self-service experience, improving turnaround time and empowering both parties (speed)
  • Managers/experts get to spend more time on analysis and planning and less on mechanical decision-making (cost)

There's a complete case study on the Fair Isaac website. At least one newspaper has done something very similar.

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