Posts Tagged ‘Google’

Jack of all trades?

December 23, 2009

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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Helios is like an old Volkswagen

December 22, 2009

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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The Demographical Difference

December 18, 2009

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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Cloud computing with a DAM

December 18, 2009

After Sean’s interesting little entry on whether more companies are going to move their application offering into the cloud, I had the pleasure of spending a lengthy amount of time Murray Oles of Chalex. They have taken a rather different approach to providing Digital Asset Management as a service and not as the key application driver. Workflow orchestration is their approach and storing assets is just a process that happens during our working day, and lets face it in our pre-media environments we are all about getting our jobs out and the assets are attached to our jobs, so this is a refreshing approach from a DAM vendor.

There are two things that make this system stand apart from the other; the first one which isn’tunique to what I have seen, but is unique in their implementation to it is the ability to build workflows to manage the process flow of your jobs, now this could be anything from the automation of tasks, to the people that need to review and approve something and right down to the assigning of tasks to people, studios or outsource partners. Now I said it wasn’t completely unique and that was because we have seen workflow in systems offered by Artesia and ADAM, but the workflow is all based around the assests and not the business processes.

The second thing that is pretty unique is that the system is offered completely in the cloud… yes completely – assets and all…. It all sits up there on the Amazon servers, this provides them with the ability to deploy an instance of the basic setup in a matter of hours, for more advanced configurations where the processes need to be mapped and custom panels need creating then these can be developed after the process has been worked out.

The system is using some great technology under the bonnet, such as Cozimo the collaborative, review and presentation system for online digital content in real-time, this is similar to other systems out there from Kodak, Dalim, and ProofHQ but also allows you to annotate video!

On top of these they are able to integrate additional services into the system such as:

  • Google integration –iGoogle “Gadgets” –Google Apps
  • Collaboration services
  • Video previews
  • FLASH previews
  • Web to print services
  • Promo planning
  • Adobe In Design Server engine
  • Translation services
  • On-line page building

Naturally there are the normal features such as published workflow models, resource groups, workflow teams and roles & permission setting along with a dashboard that allows you to keep track of your work assignments. They have also started developing smart forms based in Flex allowing for the information to be dynamically generated.

On top of all this they have an Adobe Air application that allows the users to connect and interact with the assets connected with a specific task. All for either an annual subscription fee or an outright price with annual maintenance fee that is very very competitive against other offerings on the market.

So with the prediction for 2010 being the year of the DAM Cloud Explosion, these guys are well positioned to get ahead of the race with a concept that doesn’t put the digital asset management as the key driver, but rather the business process is the heart of the solution.

We look forward to seeing how this system develops over the next 6 to 12 months as they find more integrators around the world to help them get a better saturation in the market.

My only closing comments would be that you shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover, unfortunately their main website for the products http://www.pakzar.biz does need a bit of a marketeers touch.

Author: Gary George

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