Bads Ads? No Excuse!
Too often, publishers coddle advertisers. We make excuses for them. "My advertising base just isn't knowledgeable about digital ads." Or, "They're not equipped to produce a digital ad." Sound painfully familiar? And so, we continue to accept film and the high price of copy-dot scans, despite our better judgment, trusting our advertisers to self-educate and get up to CTP speed as quickly as they can. But in doing so, are we perpetuating a vicious cycle?
It wouldn't be wise of me to suggest that any publication—no matter how fiscally strong—ever turn away an advertiser simply because it, or its agency, is incapable of supplying a preferred digital ad file, a TIFF/IT-P1 or PDF/X-1. We certainly wouldn't! Advertising is, after all, our bread, butter—and the jelly! Still, if a large percentage of your advertising colleagues insist on supplying film, and you're trying to work in a CTP environment, it behooves you to take some action. In certain cases, this action could be as simple as spending some time walking a few of your clients through file preparation based on your specs. Or you might go the face-to-face route, inviting your clients to visit, so you can explain the digital ad quality-control procedures you've put into place. In other cases, you may find it is best to refer your non-digital customers to reputable prepress suppliers. These days, you might even refer them to the Internet for help.
Long ago, prepress suppliers foretold that the wave of the future would lie in digital file transfer, and many quickly embraced technologies that would enable them to quickly and securely exchange digital files with clients and manufacturing partners. This very principle is now the advertising community's new best friend.
With an increasing number of publishers going CTP each year, advertisers must be prepared to replace their trusted film with files. Many do it well. Most of the big agency players have been digital for years, but for smaller agencies and companies with in-house prepress, the transition remains daunting. Recently, PrintMedia went in search of a few resources designed to help advertisers prepare quality and affordable print-ready TIFF/IT-P1 or PDF/X-1 files. We've also compiled a handy list of tools you may want to consider bringing in-house, so your advertisers will get the extra confidence boost they need.
As the name implies, Adfixer.com, Westlake Village, CA, has a simple promise. Upload virtually any file format—as long as it's complete with graphics and fonts—and Adfixer.com will return a clean PostScript, EPS, TIFF, PDF, PDF/X-1 or TIFF/IT-P1 file to you. Adfixer is equipped for FTP for file submissions; the site utilizes both Fetch and Interarchy solutions for uploading/ dowloading. All projects are estimated before work begins. Charges are simple and reasonably priced: final file preparation, $35; $25 1⁄4-hour charge for file intervention, which includes final file preparation (1⁄2 hour minimum).
MyAdServe.com is operated by R.E. May, Cleveland, OH. The Web site stemmed from the supplier's self-developed modular Internet Asset Manager solution, available through www.remay.com, which may also be customized for clients who wish to have its functionality available through corporate-branded sites of their own. One of the Internet Asset Manager's modules, Job Serve, enables the supplier to receive native files and convert them to clean TIFF/IT-P1, PDF or Digital Negative File (DNF), R.E. May's patent-pending DNF supported by a large number of prepress and pressroom technologies. DNF is a hybrid EPSF, which can be processed on a PostScript RIP. All CT image data is in one composite layer at 355.6 dpi. Continuous-tone images may be either EPS or JPEG. All text and LW graphics are held in another layer, in vector format and are resolution-independent. A DNF can be placed in any page layout program (as an EPS) and sized, rotated and cropped as needed; ditto for imposition programs. MyAdServe.com offers a two-to-six-hour turnaround for conversion; a complementary CD-ROM is burned and shipped to the customer. Digital halftone proofs may be generated on either a Kodak Approval or a CreoScitex Proofsetter Spectrum. The cost is $475.00 per page, including shipping and CD-ROM.
Also owned and operated by R.E. May, this easy-to-navigate site allows users to submit either PostScript or PDF files (there is a quick and easy tutorial for preparing either). The client receives a clean TIFF/IT-P1 file, with 18:1 compression for quick transfer, with a choice of proofs: contract halftone, contract ink-jet continuous tone (for publications), contract ink-jet (for newspapers) or soft proofs. TIFFIT-online.com promises a one-to-four-hour turnaround. The cost is $75 per page without proof, add another $75 for a proof.
Western Laser Graphics (WLG)
Western Laser Graphics is a bricks-and-clicks prepress company based in Valencia, CA. The supplier and its employees have been long-time proponents of industry standards and recognize the importance of good file preparation, especially for digital advertising. So much so, that WLG offers this guarantee: "We promise to take your [digital ad] file and create a standard TIFF/IT-P1 or PDF/X-1 file for less than it will cost you to output film or copy-dot ad film," explains Alan Darling, WLG's COO and DDAP chair (Digital Distribution of Advertising for Publications). WLG's WeLComm file exchange program enables the supplier to receive digital files in number of ways: FTP, ISDN, WAM!NET, etc.. WLG vows to take any Mac or Windows application file set and turn it into a platesetter-ready, industry standard digital file.
Pack Your Digital Ad Doctor Bag
Here's what you'll need to successfully process the barrage of digital ads you'll soon receive (see "Web Citings" on p. 36 for Web URLs):
1. Preflight/file checking (choose one or two complementary products): Adobe Acrobat Reader/Acrobat 4.0; DALiM SWiNG Normalizer, DDAP's PDF/X-1 Verifier or TIFF/IT-P1 Checker, Enfocus PitStop Server, Extensis PreflightPro, Lantana PDF ImageWorks, Lazer-fare Media Services FlowTools; Markzware FlightCheck; Rorke Data TIFF/ITeyes.
2. Hardware: Be sure that you make digital ad submissions easier than film submissions for your advertiser. Ramp up with an FTP site, T-1, plenty of removable media devices (CD-ROM, Zip, Jaz, etc.). Also, make sure your server is up to snuff, able to handle a larger numbers of processing tasks.
3. Proofs: Even though your suppliers may be able to generate high-end digital proofs for the ad pages you submit, you may desire in-house control, as well. Consider bringing in at least one digital proofer. Continuous-tone devices are certainly less expensive than halftone devices, but depending on volume and advertising base, you may want to wander down the digital halftone route. Finally, consider soft proofing, as well. You may find—as you guide your advertisers into foreign digital lands—that they need a little extra hand-holding. Soft proofing will enable you to communicate real-time with them—and more importantly, with your suppliers—about variances and edits, while you wait for hard-copy proofs to arrive. Soft-proofing technologies/services are readily available from: DGNonline, Digital Art Exchange (DAX), Group Logic, PROOFitONLINE.com, RealTimeImage, Same-Page.com and WAM!NET.
-Gretchen A. Kirby