Who’s Really Trying to be Green?

January 19, 2010 by

Over the last few years we have started to see companies advertising with green credentials, flexing their muscles against their competition as green helps them win their latest contract. But what does it really take to go green in a modern pre-media company? How do we measure what a company are does and to what degree to make them green?

One area that caught my eye was in the hard-copy proofing area of our industry. In going about my daily business I came cross Rick Colson of EcoVisual Communication who offers completely green photo printing. They provide a 10 point sustainability list for their production process that would fill me with confidence that they have taken measures to ensure photos are produced with the environment in mind. Here’s how they do it:

  1. They print on 100% cotton papers that is made from post-industrial cotton fibers – materials that might otherwise wind up in landfills. Their “most pure” and highest-grade papers are made with cotton “short-fibres” recovered from cotton-seed oil manufacturers.
  2. They source these papers locally (their business is in Massachusetts) to eliminate the greenhouse gas emissions associated with transporting bulk paper (very heavy).
  3. They use entirely VOC-free water based pigmented inks.
  4. They use biodegradable mounting adhesives.
  5. They mount to soy foam substrates or honeycomb substrates that are made from 100% post consumer recycled papers.
  6. On the rare occasion they need to print on fabric or canvas they only use 100% recycled cotton substrates. (They also have available a new cotton canvas that’s a blend with recycled plastics from soda bottles!).
  7. ALL their imaging papers are totally chlorine free, tree free and acid free.
  8. They softproof whenever possible which reduces paper proofs.
  9. They colour manage workflow to ensure accurate colour which also reduces proofing.
  10. Everything they produce is 100% recyclable.

Feeling that these guys have really gone to great lengths to provide an environmentally friendly solution for producing proofs/prints, I had to ask him a few questions to get his opinion on how the industry and customers saw what was happening.

Here’s what I asked with his responses:

1. In your experience, what is the key driver to companies using products like yours?
There are three: 1) A passion for green, 2) an uncompromising drive for museum/archive/collector quality and 3) the desire to work directly with a name and face, not just anonymous “customer service.” I work with every client we have, personally.

2. Given the complexities of running a modern business, are companies doing enough to make a difference?
I don’t fault any company at this point in time for not trying hard enough to make a difference, with a few exceptions. So many businesses, and chief among them photographers and artists, are simply doing their best to survive. There is also a mistaken belief among most that making a difference, being socially responsible, maximizing green efforts, etc.  will all cost more than the “simpler” ways of doing things. In my humble opinion, this is a misguided and short-sighted belief. However, when you’re struggling for survival you don’t often consider anything but the essentials. The exceptions I noted above include those companies that are thriving (insurance, financial services, petroleum) who don’t pay anything but lip service to green issues when they, above all, can afford to. Greed, I think, is blinding.

3. How to companies weigh up the cost of being green against customers’ demands for cheaper & faster?
If you look at our pricing you will see that we’re actually less expensive than many printers offering similar services who are far less green. On the other hand, there are a lot of “quick and dirty” ways to obtain prints that are much less expensive than custom labs and “giclee” printers (including us). There will always be those who want the best quality and are willing to pay for it… fine artists, professional image makers, museums, galleries, art buyers, collectors et. al. The trick for us is to be more cost effective than those who are printing less green while delivering an equal or superior product. Then it’s a “no brainer.” In fact, I’m literally banking on it. It’s also true that people in this country, as a whole, are willing to pay only a very slight premium for green. So while green is one of our essential ingredients, we would be lost without quality, timeliness and service.

4. What level of education on the wider ‘green’ issue does your company provide its customers?
I do a lot of public speaking on, among other things, the relationship between indoor air quality and art and the use of green technology in imaging. One of the key components of being green is health, a fact that many seem to ignore. A significant health issue pertains to the use of solvent inks with Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), which are known respiratory- and neuro-toxins. This is especially an issue for those who create prints with these materials as well as those who use the art. It’s a sad fact that no one knows what the combined effects of these VOCs and other toxins are when they mix with other potentially  toxic chemicals commonly found in household cleaners, carpets, paints, office products plus diesel particulates and other solid particulate pollutants. It’s these interactions which are the great unknown. Conventional chemical imaging involves dyes, pigments and silver, many of which are potentially toxic. In fact, elemental silver, used in conventional imaging, is a known heavy metal and carcinogen.  Many toxicologists link such symptoms as fatigue, inability to concentrate, respiratory problems such as asthma, depression, anxiety, and other neurological and psychological disorders with environmental toxins. That’s why every print we make is produced with 100% VOC-free inks on 100% cotton papers made from reclaimed cotton from cottonseed oil manufacturers (cottonseed oil is a food product).
In addition, I spend at least an hour a day on various online forums and blogs trying to provide useful information.

5. What are the 3 biggest selling points for green products in your opinion?
The first is health, the second is quality and the third is sustainability (not necessarily in that order). The globe is warming, resources are dwindling and there are far more health issues than ever before. To me, even in as “relatively insignificant” a field of endeavor as imaging, it simply makes sense to be as green as possible.. especially when there are virtually no compromises! Why would you do anything else?

How Much?

For some time now companies have switched their lighting consumption to low energy lighting, installed motion censors so the lights are only on when people are in the room and ensured that hardware is set to go into screen saver mode after only a short period of time. But is that really enough?
Having worked myself in a busy studio I can tell you that not many people are energy conscious when it comes to the hardware they use, they will happily go home at the end of the night leaving their Mac or PC on, sucking money straight out of the companies bottom line…. OK you may think this is a little excessive, but actually when you start adding it up it turns out to be a pretty juicy amount, doing some very simple maths here, using my standard consumer rate of electricity and one of my 24 inch Dell 2407 LCD screens I have calculated that having the screen running for 24 hours a day with a screen saver running would clock up a hefty £133 a year on my electricity bill. Luckily for me I don’t have it running 24 hours a day since I have 2 of them! I couldn’t face a bill of over £500 a year just to run my PC, but I’m sensible; my screens go to standby after 5 minutes, I shut my PC down at night and I have a energy saving peripheral multi-gang socket that switches off all of the additional plugged in equipment (mouse dock, printer, scanner and actually the screens!)

Now just multiply that against the number of screens in your creative studio, say 20? Left on for 24 hours a day 365 days a year – a company would spend around £2660 or through managing the staff’s shutdown process they could just be spending £900 – now £1760 might seem like a small amount of money in the grand scheme of what that creative studio might actually earn, but that £1760 is no different to simply burning it for no reason! Another way of looking at it is that £1760 is the cost of a new G5 Mac something all the staff would love to have every year, in fact it’s what they normally ask for every year as if they deserve it!

I’m the one paying my bill, so I am energy conscious. But on the whole employees aren’t and most really just don’t care. For me going green isn’t just about using sustainably sourced materials (although I’m not knocking anyone that does) it’s about changing the complete mindset of your business and it’s employees, it’s about promoting it across the company about how being green saves money, save the environment and makes for better business, we all know that better business means higher incomes and longer term survival.

What would I do?

There’s plenty of things that companies could be doing in order to be more thoughtful about the energy they use. Thinking about my top 10 company green points that I would promote to my clients, I’d have to have some sort of measurements to ensure that my employee’s are maintaining the standards my company has set. I mean what’s the point of having any type of policy if you don’t measure if it is being followed, anyway my list would look something like this:

  1. All employees would use public transport or bikes to get into work.
  2. All employees who have to drive car pole in some way and have low emission modes of transportation.
  3. Any company car would be energy efficient (i.e. not gas gussling tanks, and all the way up to chairman he gets a Smart just like his staff!)
  4. All computers and peripherals would be shut-down at the end of the day.
  5. Recycling bins and reported measured waste (anal I know, but how do you get people to care about recycling otherwise!)
  6. Sustainably source company products (i.e recycled loo roll, recycled photo copier paper, fairtrade tea & coffee etc etc)
  7. Low energy lighting with motion detection.
  8. Only company owned equipment plugged into the companies electricity (sorry all those personal mobile phone users who charge at work!)
  9. Solar heated buildings
  10. Thermally insulated buildings

Conclusion

That list is without looking at the material you use in the daily business you provide your clients. I know what your thinking “my God, you want a lot, do your clients really care?” Probably not, but much like Apple has wow’d us with how green the production process and material used is in the products they manufacture, so should we be wowing our clients by being environmentally responsible. As Rick pointed out above it can cost the same if not less to produce environmentally friendly proofs for your clients, as so it wouldn’t take a lot to implement policy throughout your business on energy consumption, educate your staff to be responsible for the environment, your clients and your bottom line.

Susrainability + Environmental Awareness can only equal good business, higher gross profit and better employee rewards? Or are you just playing lip service to the need of your clients?

Think about what more you could be doing in your pre-media supply chain to reduce your carbon footprint!

Author: Gary George

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Tunicca Offers CMS Watch Reports in Europe

January 12, 2010 by

Those of you who visit this blog often will know that we aren’t afraid to occasionally blow our own trumpet. It is therefore with much fanfare that we would like to announce a partnership with the highly regarded digital content technolgy researcher CMS Watch. It’s taken some time for us to sort out the paperwork and then Christmas and our busy schedules didn’t help, but at last we have finalised a deal that enables Tunicca to provide the revered CMS Watch reports and premium consultancy for DAM solutions. So naturally our first response to the news was to get an email out to all of our listed contacts, write this blog and of course draft a press release to complete the announcement!

So, what does all of this this mean exactly? Well primarily this enables Tunicca to provide the CMS Watch reports and consultancy service to pre-media companies in Europe that are looking at either expanding, changing or implementing a DAM solution. The reports complement Tunicca’s highly regarded business process analysis and enhances the reviews of DAM solutions that we carry out for customers. This in turn will help to ensure that we can assist customers in choosing a DAM system that can fit into the actual business requirements, objectives and strategy of a company.

From its inception we have insisted that our company Tunicca remains 100% independent in order to deliver truly impartial expertise to our the market. So it could seem that we are selling out and becoming just another technology reseller as we now have the ability to sell CMS Watch products. Well that is far from being the case as CMS Watch also prides itself on and fiercely protects its independence. All of their technology reports are written by chosen industry specialists and are completely objective, based on factual evidence garnered during their extensive research. So as you can see there is a very real and tangible complement between our two companies and we are looking forward very much to this partnership.

Our belief, much like CMS Watch, is that when it comes to technology there is a real need in the market for independent views, opinion and analysis based on facts and not vendor marketing spin and propaganda. So we will continue to build our company based on this principle and we are pleased to be partnering with a body such as CMS Watch that echoes this conviction.

About Tunicca
Tunicca is an independent, international supplier of Business Process Analysis solutions to the Pre-media industry. Headquartered in London, Tunicca utilises a number of carefully selected industry experts to deliver a variety of knowledge based solutions to the technology driven world of Pre-media.
With extensive experience in all areas of Pre-media Tunicca is able to advise and assist companies of all sizes in a variety of business issues and challenges. Tunicca operates in the entire value chain and can act across international borders to effectively assist its largest multinational customers with their supply chain challenges whether large or small.
About CMS Watch
CMS Watch™ evaluates content-oriented technologies, offering head-to-head comparative reviews of leading solutions. Through highly detailed technical evaluations and online education courses, CMS Watch helps sort out the complex landscape of potential solutions so that buyers can minimize the time and effort to identify technologies suited to their particular requirements. To retain its independence as a totally impartial analyst firm, CMS Watch works solely for solutions buyers and never for vendors.
About DAM
Short for digital asset management, a system that creates a centralized repository for digital files that allows the content to be archived, searched and retrieved. The digital content is stored in databases called asset repositories while metadata such as photo captions, article key words, advertiser names, contact names, file names or low-resolution thumbnail images are stored in separate databases called media catalogues and point to the original items.
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Premedia & Consumer White Goods?

January 12, 2010 by

Almost every week  we hear or see something that we think is absolutely pointless – and then there’s some stuff that will revolutionise the way we use devices! So today I was challenged to ‘blog’ about two such devices and how they fit into our pre-media landscape.

Firstly let’s look at what I was directed to….. Yes you got it, a Microwave and a Washing Machine with a 7 inch touchscreen Android embedded system!!!

Seems pretty pointless right?

Well if your client is one of these manufacturers then definitely not, since you probably hold all of the company’s digital assets and brand material and therefore you are in a prime position to offer some sort of content management services and facilities for these devices. There is a whole supply chain process that would be involved in getting content fit for purpose on these new touch devices and sure, they may not hit mainstream consumer purchasing while the technology prices are still high for this type of implementation, but really when you think about it, is it no cheaper for manufacturers to reduce costs by providing less choice – i.e. not have to have so many parts to maintain?

Whilst pre-media companies need to diversify, are they really able to make a leap into consumer device application development? Or is it a step too far? We already see the big boys in the industry providing iPhone apps for their suites of applications to help their clients feel more in-touch with workflow. So they have huge technology & development departments dedicated to application development and who’s to say they won’t be able to transition their already gathered user interaction experience into the mainstream consumer device application market?

I don’t know about you, but I have a nice shiny new touch screen Samsung phone, the downside is the frustration of my fat fingers trying to get to the letters of applications I need instead of constantly selecting the option next to the one I want – so is touch just a storm in a tea cup? or will it be the next revolution of consumer products?

I won’t go into why you would ever want wireless networking, browsing, etc. on your washing machine because I always thought that the fridge that kept track for the contents and add depleted stocks to your shopping list was a great idea, but in practise would it really work? What about the fridge/freezer with an LCD TV embedded in the door? Well great, so you design your new kitchen around the fridge being in the optimal viewing position while you cook dinner!

The future is all touchy feely

With Apple supposedly releasing a tablet style touch screen device in the coming months it is clear that they would have done their research enough to know that the time is right for that style of device (let’s hope that they are not banking on the success for the iTouch/iPhone as a benchmark for people to spend 3 to 4 times as much on a tablet device!). We have also seen a number of conceptual designs for paper style digital magazines/newspapers – again odd since the Kindle/Irex/Sony ebook readers hardly made mass market! There are plenty of new opportunities for pre-media companies to get a handle on where their future profits come from and try and cash in on the new pre-media output channels that are constantly appearing.  All application, user interface and user help systems require assets, supply chains, workflows and content management so have you thought about what your customers are working on in their roadmap to ensure you are considering it in your strategic plans as well?

Author: Gary George

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Recession Bites Hard

January 8, 2010 by

Well what a depressing start to the year – first the UK gets hit by some of the worst temperatures we have ever had making getting to work near impossible for so many people (something I’ll come back to later in this blog) and then the news of more closures and liquidations in our industry that will send a few waves through our industry….

Closures

So this week we saw the announcement that Positive Focus will be closing their doors for business citing that the lack of investment from companies in the pre-media and print sectors that created extremely poor operating revenue which they cannot survive on. This type of news is of course sad as it removes competition from the integration market. Some people will benefit by picking up existing support contracts as the vultures sweep in to pick the bones out of carcasses, yet the sadness is with the family run business that operated for 32 years providing top quality services to our industry.

The point is though that this is not the first time that an integrator has come up short in sales and had the bones picked out of them. In previous situations private investors have jumped in to save the companies, but what value has that ever bought? Integrators like other companies need to continually reinvent their service offerings, it’s not enough in today’s markets to only supply the same software and services you established your company on. We only need to look at how the pre-media landscape has dramatically changed in the last 24 months with mobile media and personalisation becoming more and more prominent with mobile devices and digital print being the fastest expanding markets.

Brand Director Workflow Management DAM

We also have seen a massive upraise in Digital Asset Management with business process & workflow at the heart of the service offering and so for integrators is it enough to only focus on a single solution when smaller and individual consultants can offer services across multiple software offerings without the need to increase the costs of the software solutions to cover their own operational cost (since they are being paid as consultants anyway!)?

The next 6 months in this industry will definitely see more casualties of the recession and my concern is that, while everyone is holding onto their purse strings, the industry will diminish into a barren landscape of little choice as to who you use. On the upside, the integrators that are left to compete will take their pick of the best talent across the market at pay levels that are unrealistic to UK living!

Contingency plans?

eavy snowfall in much of Britain caused widespread travel problems throughout the country Monday morning, causing hundreds of flight cancellations and rush hour chaos in London

AP Photo/Joel Ryan

Whilst we are suffering the effects of this recession and many families struggle with the continuing fuel costs, the snow in the UK has rendered so many people incapacitated when it comes to travelling into work. This is a serious problem for the pre-media and print companies as many of them have had to reduce their costs to the bare minimum to remain competitive and therefore are unable to have contingency plans in place for staff not turning up for work. Even though the clients are in the same situation as their suppliers there is little sympathy for their inability to produce the work and this is leaving more clients looking at how they can offshore their work to countries that can cope regardless of the weather conditions which in turn strengthens the effects of this recession (the “who is to blame” question is a much more political discussion that I won’t get into – but I hope the industrial sector put pressure on the UK government for poor preparation, again, of the weather we are having here.

Most companies never plan for ‘staff’ outages let alone any diaster recovery plans when serious problems occur (building fire, hardware failures, hardware theft or internet outages for example). Yet to me, contingency plans should form part of any contract when a continueous supply of work is provided and the assets of the clients are stored on the companies servers. Staff contingency is difficult to manage as companies should have suffient workflow & job management in place to be able to prioitise work for the clients that have a high demand, they should also have the ability to work with business partners in order to provide a continuation of services. Yet this is always an ‘after the event’ type of reaction which gets spoken about, then as soon as cost becomes involved normally gets shelved as something to do another day.

The future is bright

Being the harbinger of doom is never nice so I’m going to try and put a positive spin, regardless of the amount doom and gloom there is so far in 2010. The work still needs to be distributed between the companies that survive the recession, there will also be new births coming out of the woodwork that have fresh perspectives on the way to do business, pre-media will be a primary focus of these new businesses with the new technology and new workstreams paving the way to the next generation of business models. There will still be room for the traditional businesses, but the truly award winning companies will have the ability to react to the changing technolgy landscape and market their changes in ways that ensure they are on the summit looking down heir competition.

I also predict that there will be no room for fat cats in these new business models! Corporations that once hoped to increase their profit income from design and reproduction companies will shed their interests as quickly as they were snapping them up and we all know that there is no creatvity around the corporate board room table, only balance sheets, paperwork and endless justifications for stuff they simply don’t understand!

Author: Gary George

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Food for Thought

January 5, 2010 by

A Happy New Year to all of our readers. I hope that we provided you with some interesting topics during 2009 and to continue into 2010 I want to touch upon one today that puzzled me a little over the festive season.

The story starts like this; My daughter is just about to turn 6 months old and in the last month she has become  very aware of her surroundings – all normal development I guess. So we decided to stimulate her senses by taking her to London Zoo and so, rather crazily, we headed out in the miserable drizzle on the Wednesday between Christmas and New Year, both of us with horrible colds but determined to show our little bundle of joy the animals that she has only seen on the TV so far.

Whilst there, we stopped at the completely over priced Oasis Cafe in the center of the Zoo for a quick snack – two sandwiches and 2 bottles of pop at £18 (and strangely my partner didn’t tell me the price at the time knowing what my reaction would have been!). Anyway the pop she purchased was Pepsi and a very good proportion of the bottle’s label was covered by a QR Code. OK, nothing new since Nick Butcher wrote about the QR Codes hitting the mainstream back in Feb of 2009 on his blog here (oh and I nicked his images since I forgot to snap one myself!).

Now, two things here got me thinking about the use of QR Codes, Microsoft Tags, Datamatrix Codes etc., etc. 1) Considering this is  in the mainstream consumer arena the god damn things are ugly and any designer would struggle to add them to packaging or promotional material without them being an eyesore and 2) What exactly does the consumer get out of it anyway? Read the rest of this entry »

Jack of all trades?

December 23, 2009 by

You know what, with all this talk about pre-media and the diverse channels of media that need to be addressed that fall into it’s scope, I thought we ought to look at the types of skills a ‘pre-media specialist’ should hold… This has really come about after a discussion and then one of those lovely google alerts coming in for a ‘pre-media specialist’ job in London.

Firstly lets take a quick look at what this job wanted the candidates to be able to do:

To be considered for this role, you will ideally have:
Commercial experience in professional graphics software applications including Adobe Photoshop, Adobe InDesign, Adobe Illustrator, QuarkXpress and Dreamweaver
Sound working knowledge of HTML and CSS
Data processing experience, preferably gained in MS Excel or Access
A demonstrable track record of working to client briefs and interpreting requirements.
Knowledge of variable data mark-up for digital print and knowledge of digital workflow in a print or online production environment
Any experience gained in XMPie, DirectSmile or Yours Truly designer VDP extensions is highly desirable, but not strictly essential as full training can be provided.

My god they should have thrown in Video Editing in Final Cut Pro just for good measure!… I’ve just exaggerated the keywords there for them to jump out at you, this is a pretty good job spec and to be honest if anyone could demonstrate commercial experience in just Photoshop they would probably be in for a 25k a year job, but these guys seem to want you to be a jack of all trades here, and to top that their owning willing to pay between 20-30k a year… Now hold on, I know we’re living in desperate times, but to me there is 4 distinct jobs outlined in this spec…. An Artworker capable of page markup and image composition. A web designer building pages in HTML and CSS. A data processing/VDP person and last but not least a workflow guy. Now, I’ve been around for some 20 years in this trade and met some pretty clever people, but none of them have that sort of diversity and if they did know a little of each, they were by no means a specialist.

So are we now expecting too much for our money?

http://www.sillydaddy.net

Cartoon by Joe Chiapetta http://www.sillydaddy.net

I know so many companies that struggle to get good Quark, Indesign & Photoshop operators and the good ones they do get are paid over 35k, the to add Illustrator to that, good Illustrator people are worth their weight in gold. As the cartoon displays the skills gap that UPS identified in Illinois, we tend to hire just on the basis that the potential employee writes it on their CV.

(thanks to Joe Chiappetta for allowing the use of this cartoon picture, check out all his great work at http://www.sillydaddy.net)

But if you were a brand owner and knew your pre-media company employed pre-media specialists who, well, specialized in everything rather than any one of the given disciplines of pre-media, how confident would you be in the specialist services you were getting?

In fact each of the Adobe application have a certified expert program were a user can take an exam based on one of the applications (in the UK they are provided through a series of authorized training centers) if you pass you are provided a certificate to say you are a certified expert in that version of the application…. Have you ever even asked your pre-media supplier if they have any certified experts employed and if so what versions of the applications they are experts in…. Or in fact if you are an employee have you asked your company to sponsor you to become an expert? I mean it would benefit them as much as it benefits your own career, and lastly as an employer do you encourage and support your staff to become experts?

On the whole most of you will answer no to the above, yet if we are to really and truly benchmark the skills and salaries of the people we employ we need to start encouraging accreditation in the applications we employ them to use, unfortunately for me, years of experience doesn’t mean the person is actually any good in the applications, and I can tell you from experience I’ve employed some youngsters in my time that are worth 10 times their peers.

While I understand that there is a need to employ people with multiple skills, companies are constantly running the risk employing people who aren’t particularly skilled in anything, I mean, I could say that I am fluent in CorelDRAW Graphics Suite, yet I only really know 5% of what Corel is capable of doing and that’s where the problem is when a person states they can use a graphic application.

So where does this leave our modern pre-media companies who need to deliver services across multiple disciplines and deliver those services at rates that are competitive against the other pre-media companies in the market. Well better pre-employment screening can only help you employ the right people, there’s plenty of great people out there, I hope you can find them and have a good performance rating program to assist the weaker ones in becoming a true asset to the company.

Author: Gary George

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A Very Merry Christmas

December 22, 2009 by

For all our readers, and the people we couldn’t send this to personally, we here at Tunicca would like to wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Prosperous Pre-media New Year!

Helios is like an old Volkswagen

December 22, 2009 by

I’ve just been delighted when I received a google alert on my old favorite term Pre-media only get get whisked away to the Helios website…. Upon arriving I have to say I was pleasantly surprised, I mean the last time I was here is was pretty awful looking, so I have no idea when they had a face lift, but it is pretty refreshing…

What I liked most was their text within the Ad Agengy/Pre-media section of the site…:

The way that Volkswagen promoted the VW Beetle in the nineteen-sixties greatly changed the advertising world – just like that car moved the audience. If the agency copywriter had known then that this claim would prove right, he certainly would have gone to bed deeply satisfied that night. The VW Beetle assembly line kept running from 1946 until 2003.

Of course, we cannot tell if our “Unbreakable” server solutions will keep running just as long. But we are confident that they will. This confidence is based on the feedback we receive from our customers who have worked with our server software for more than a decade, day by day, and without any downtime. It could run likewise for you.

I like the way they are admitting they are not perfect (but then what product is) but the would like to pitch themselves up there with the reliability of a Volkswagen car…. neat.

Maybe I’ll take a closer look at their product offering for this new Pre-media could and report back, hopefully their grant me a demo licences for a little while to truly have a play.

Author: Gary George

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Is your asset manager generating you income?

December 21, 2009 by

Over the past year you’ve heard me ramble, get confused and talk out of my backside, but everything we have brought to you has been about possibilities and the business process thought behind driving your pre-media operations, in a forthcoming post I’m going to touch upon the staffing requirements (or the perceived staffing requirements) for the next generation of pre-media operations.

So today’s subject is about the asset manager you have; ask yourself this question:

Do we use our asset management system today the same way as we did when it was installed?

 Invariably the answer to this will be no, why? well it’s a relatively simple answer, very few companies actually know want they want when they invest in a DAM system, so few perform a needs analysis and produce a future requirements document. Every company has a strategic direction, whether that filters down to the staff or not, it is always a consideration when the CEO sign’s off on a major purchase, it’s part of his preflight check of releasing the funds; but it doesn’t necessarily mean that the DAM systems roadmap fits with your own strategic direction.

On a whole most companies will have growth, flexibility and diversity in their own roadmap knowing that they won’t be doing the same thing in 5 years as they are today, so does the digital asset management system you invested in all those years back provide you with the framework to generate that future income?

We have seen companies suffer through poor or nonexistent taxonomies, through poor file management and through poor management in general, companies have looked at the cost of asset librarians and felt they can cut down or do without, but is that at the cost of securing more income through the reuse of those assets they look after. Today more than ever with the explosion of media output channels digital asset management should play a pivitol roll in any companies strategy for multi channel, multi tenanted environments.

So before you work out how much potential cash has already gone in the bin, evaluate if the DAM infrastructure you have is inline with the companies strategic direction and make sure that you invest in the right people to meet those targets, although you may see this as a short term overhead you can do without, the long term gain will pay dividends that you can not yet realize.

Author: Gary George

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The Demographical Difference

December 18, 2009 by

As 2009 draws to a close perhaps we can start looking for some solace in 2010 in a hope that our economic downturns in the UK & US will start lifting and maybe give a lift to our pre-media industry that was hit hard by the downturn. Technology has always been a key driver in our market and it’s being driven further with consumer data mining speeding up the fast lane to support our desire to target individuals with marketing information. Some companies like the Car Phone Warehouse have used their customers’ data very well in producing tailor made, specifically targeted campaigns that are focussed around their knowledge of customers’ preferences. But what about the everyday online profiles that we generate; what about the subscriptions we pay to newspapers and magazines that collect all of that demographic information….

Yes it’s great that Joe Bloggs publishing can tell their readers and the publishing industry that 53% are male readers between the ages of 18 and 25 who earn on average £23,568 a year, yet they still send the same magazine to all of their readers! Why do that when they actually hold so much information about their subscribed users? OK, I can suffer the fact that a generic magazine needs to hit the news-stand as they will have no idea who is going to buy it, but their subscriber base could certainly be benefiting from a more focused magazine.

Are you getting my drift here? The consumer will benefit as the advertising content would be tailored to their demographic profile, the advertisers will benefit as they have a target audience for their products that actually matches who they want to sell to and the consumer reads adverts that will actually engage them rather than skip to the next article. Also media booking could be streamlined to remove the huge amount of human work and administration that goes into it. Lets take an example; for some reason we subscribe to Ideal Home, I actually love looking and reading all of the editorial about what’s available and how these average people have transformed their homes. But the advertising content is way off the mark – our family income is pretty average (well, I think it’s pretty average as we don’t live a lavish life and have very little disposable income, I know our Chancellor thinks 20k is enough for a family to live on but we who live in the real world know it isn’t) and the magazine is targeted at us average people. Yet the advertising is targeted at people who have bucket loads of cash, you know the people that can afford handmade kitchens rather than a Wickes flat pack! Yet the magazine know our demographic profile and it’s not like the technology is not available to produce these with our profiles in mind.

By Industry

Image based Ad Impressions Oct 09 By Industry - marketingcharts.com

 

Now thinking about what’s happening online – again demographics seem to have been left out of the advertising equation. I login to my Yahoo or Google account and I get content-aware advertising, not consumer aware advertising. If I go to a site that is plastered with advertising (and sorry, if it’s a professional site that has had adverts added for them to gain some extra revenue then I feel it cheapens what they have on offer) the advertising is targeted on the content and not the vistors demographics…..and that’s without going into the magazines and newspapers that are now delivering digital editions.

If I took this one step further and looked at broadcast, the like of Sky & Virgin in the UK and the cable networks in the US hold so much demographic data about their viewers they could cash in with the advertising community by broadcasting adverts specific to demographic bands. They say that the adverts during the superbowl are the most expensive in the world! Now imagine the revenue the advertising companies could gain if they had adverts had a better demographic hit rate! Just think the first commercial of the first quarter this year was for Bud Light, that was aired to 114,500,000 households in the US, what percentage of those households was it actually relevant to based on their demographic profile? It could just be that a different Bud Light advert could be used for different demographics to help get the brand across, or a completely different advert say for Pepsi could be used that would  more relevant to a percentage of households. Either way, again the technology is there to do this, so when will broadcasters start getting clever and cashing in?

Missed opportunities or is it what we have to look forward to?

My prediction is that in 2010 will see the start of the advertising market becoming demographically aware as they start to try and find out why their huge advertising budgets don’t bring in the sales in the volumes they used to.

Author: Gary George

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