Modern communication across the multitude of channels calls for new ways of thinking about content production.
”Media production” – this term described the production of printed content in marketing and publishing for a very long time. Meanwhile, those days are past and gone. Today, it’s all about holistic approaches – meaning content that can be created via processes that are automated as far as possible and media-neutral, and published in print as well as by way of any digital channels.
Years ago, the German Media Production Association described the change as follows: Drawing on their experience in print production, tomorrow‘s media producers will become “interpreters between the media worlds”.
This holds all the more true because print is very much alive and well, despite all the prophecies of gloom and doom, and new digital communication channels are constantly being added. Just think of the metaverse that is currently being developed, which once again offers entirely new possibilities for communication with the relevant target groups.
And all of not only requires new thinking, it also calls for innovative systems for the production and management of this content. Open environments that store data and files centrally, enable the creation of media and their publication across the entire range of channels are required – and should all be automated as far as possible and involving the technology- based, transparent involvement of partners.
In this whitepaper, we explain the “pain points” in media production while at the same time shedding a light on the available solutions.
Modern marketing thrives on content tailored to target groups and issued by way of a wide variety of channels – the spectrum ranges from print to digital media such as websites and apps, among others, and on to e-papers, newsletters and social media. In the future, moreover, presences in the metaverse will certainly have to be served with their very own requirements.
The necessary content must be created efficiently and reliably to the required quantity and quality. In view of the strong demand, this is a major challenge that cannot be mastered without powerful content and workflow management systems.
Nevertheless, companies still see a great deal of catching up to do in this regard, as is clearly stated in Adobe‘s latest “Digital Trends 2023” report.
Even among participants listed as “leaders” in the study, only 34 percent consider themselves to be in a good or very good position in terms of content production systems – solutions that can minimize proofreading, duplicate work and administrative overhead. Only 33 percent said they work with a personalized, user-friendly application that integrates smoothly with other commonly used tools.
The pain points of media production
This is painful, given that the production of content for the multitude of channels is a complex task that usually has to be wrapped up under high time pressure. Companies are therefore well advised to put their processes to the test, streamline them consistently and automate them extensively. In this context, they should pay particular attention to the following points.
Work organization with stumbling blocks Working in hierarchically defined work structures means that tasks are rigidly passed from A to B to C, both organizationally and often in physical terms. Such processes are laborious and time- consuming due to high friction losses – especially when communication within the internal team and with external partners still takes place via e-mail, for example.
Manual layout processes are time-consuming and error-prone The good old layout process: texts and images are manually placed on the digital page, then the page is “prettied up” and finally sent on to in-house departments for approval and, if required, also to the customer. This process is not only time-consuming, but also error-prone and cannot map and do justice to the flexibility demanded in today‘s media production.
Elaborate approval processes Speaking of approval – this issue is often still handled in the traditional way, in other words usually by e-mail. Particularly in complex projects with several correction runs, this is both a source of errors and a time-consuming process.
Processes lacking transparency impact on customer service The client wants to know about the status of the project? That‘s often difficult when the processes – from project management to editing to graphics and back – are not standardized. If everything is then handled by way of the notorious “sneaker network,” it often leaves the impression of sloppiness and sub-standard professionalism.
Publishing content across multiple channels is a complicated matter Print and the multitude of digital media, plus the wide range of social media channels and soon possibly even the Metaverse presence – serving this diversity with suitable content is a complicated and time-consuming affair, both technically and in terms of the mere “doing”. Not to mention the often missing overview of what, where, when and how the contents should be published.
Media production involving data-intensive assets Media files such as layouts, images, audio sequences or videos are usually very data- intensive. Sending such large files via FTP or even by way of e-mail to the people involved in the production is far too time-consuming in every respect and entails risks of errors.
Data silos The use of individual, more or less self-contained systems will inevitably lead to the creation of data silos – databases to which not everyone in the company will have access. Particularly in today‘s complex media production, this is a further stumbling block in the processes and presents security risks, for example, with regard to the up-to-dateness of content.
These hurdles can only be overcome with the implementation of a modular, integrated and yet open solution for the management of data and files – a solution providing a foundation on which all media can be produced and output
in a highly automated manner.
The core elements of a media production environment
Such a system should be able to manage the process over the entire lifecycle of the respective content and media
– from briefing to editing and design and on to production and publication by way of the desired channels.
A software environment for media production and content management consists of three essential subsystems – the central content management system (CMS), a product information management (PIM) system, and a digital asset management (DAM) solution for managing digital media files – text, images, graphics, video, and more.
The PIM and DAM solutions represent the “single source of truth” – as a central instance, they provide the information and materials used to create the content in the CMS.
The Content Management System
The CMS is the central system for the production, maintenance and administration as well as the publication of the most diverse and multifaceted contents. In this context, it should pursue the following essential approaches:
Media neutrality The content should not be geared to a specific output channel. Only at the time of output to print or delivery to digital media should the content is prepared accordingly, for example by converting it to the various resolutions or color spaces. For example, only one high-quality version of an image is created and stored in the DAM. The channel- specific variants are subsequently created on this basis – and as automatically as possible.
Collaboration All the individuals involved in production, whether internal or external, should be able to work in this one system. Whether entire pages or individual assets – communication on any element as well as its status such as “created”, “corrected”, “released”, “published” should be consistently carried along. Only in this way will all employees have an overview of the status at all times. Predefined workflows, automated processes, notifications and graded user rights ensure the necessary efficiency and security.
Openness In the past, programs were usually developed into jack-of-all-trades. Consequently, they were not only difficult to use, but also self-contained. Today, there is a demand for applications that are focused on a specific purpose and, thanks to their technological openness, can be smoothly integrated with other systems – whether ERP systems, CRM solutions, applications for content translation or ad booking and management. Solutions specializing in prepress can also be integrated in this way.
Automation In a database-supported approach, the system should enable the automation of complex layout processes, for example – without limiting creative scope. Content changes should flow from the CMS, the PIM and/or the DAM directly into the print layouts or digital media. Not only does this ensure maximum efficiency, it also guarantees that content is always consistent and up-to-date. Updating
the status of an asset should trigger the next, automated step in the workflow.
The Product Information Management System
In marketing communications the management of product information such as prices, specifications, variants, compatibility with other products is a challenging task. Moreover, this information is subject to frequent changes.
The matter becomes even more complex when the information has to be provided in several different languages, for different regions and according to local legal regulations.
A PIM system manages all product information and links it to product groups, families and variants as well as media such as images, videos, descriptions and manuals.
Integrated functions for validating data, for example with regard to completeness and versioning, minimize erroneous data records and thereby ensure efficiency and security. With regard to efficiency – options for the mass processing of product data and process- related automation are very helpful, especially in connection with the usually high data volumes.
A modern PIM system offers the opportunity to transfer “legacy data”, which has often been in place for many years, into the world of modern multichannel marketing.
The Digital Asset Management System
Images, videos, audio files, layouts, PDFs, texts and much more – these are the digital assets of a company. All too often, however, they are still scattered on various PCs or servers in the company. Moreover, it is often not clear which is the latest version, and even more often the rights of use are not known. The latter factor also harbors high legal risks.
The result: teams waste a lot of time trying to find the right files. Various studies have looked at the issue, and their results are stated as “three weeks per year” or even “a good 6.5 percent of working time” – in any case, a tremendous amount of time is wasted.
A DAM solution manages these “digital assets” securely. The solution should accommodate files of all formats, store the associated metadata and rights information, as well as keeping a record of the versioning and usage of each asset in the various communications mediums.
censhare provides a modular system for integrated media production consisting of a CMS, a PIM and a DAM. Thanks to its openness, it can be integrated into virtually any other application and thereby implemented smoothly in existing IT environments. The system meets the requirements described above while also offering a number of key advantages:
The system takes a holistic approach to media production and communications management. As a content hub and for brand management, its functions cater to print production management, variant management, database publishing, translation and localization, as well as marketing project management.
High degree of automation
Regardless of the type – all media assets pass through a special, highly automated production workflow with messages indicating the workflow status, which can be linked to additional automatic processes. The database publishing module can be used, for example, to automatically create entire catalogs and price lists based on logics. The content can be automatically output in print and via XML format, as to a web CMS and other systems, for example.
High savings potentials
The combination of professional production management, a collaborative production system and the integration of external partners results in enormous savings potential in media production.
Building up communication platforms
Thanks to its technical openness and programmability, censhare allows communication platforms to be set up for corporate printing applications, for example, or for supplying branch networks with marketing materials. Apart from further efficiency gains, such platforms also support brand management.
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Modern media production makes high demands on companies due to the multitude of today’s communication channels. This complexity will continue to increase in the future.
According to studies, however, the majority of companies perceive themselves as inadequately positioned to meet these requirements. What is called for is a holistic approach that allows all departments, people and external partners involved in media production to work collaboratively in a workflow and production system. Another essential prerequisite is the technical openness of the systems so that they can be integrated with other solutions and consequently be prepared for future requirements.
The Dalim Connector by w&co
The censhare2Dalim Connector developed by w&co connects the Dalim soft proofing solution with censhare and ensures the complete integration of both systems. Images and pages are exchanged between the two systems by way of the interface, while the production and release status are synchronized, and event- based automatisms in further processing are triggered, controlled and steered.
Comprehensive, digital, system-oriented. w&co - founded in 1954 - is one of the most innovative full-service media service providers in Germany. As a specialist in print and online marketing, w&co draw on more than 18 years of experience in work-sharing, the system-controlled processes of content creation and media production with censhare.
This includes comprehensive consulting at every stage as well as inspired design and the implementation and support of individually devised system solutions.
Right since the outset of the intensive cooperation between w&co and censhare in 2007, numerous projects have proven the company’s expertise as one of the leading implementation partners. Today, w&co features a censhare Platinum Partner.