Digital Advertising-A Dream for Some, A Nightmare for Others
The digital computer-to-plate workflow would seem to be a dream come true. After all, it promises faster, easier and, for some, cheaper. So why is it that the industry is nowhere near a completely digital workflow, specifically with regard to shipping digital advertisements? And why is it that certain industry segments (some publishers) seem to be moving at a snail's pace when it comes to accepting digital ads? I believe the answer is basically a lack of understanding that underlines a communication problem in the industry.
The larger publication printers have been riding the digital highway for some time, and are getting tired of singing the "computer-to-plate is here—and it works" song. Not only are they hoarse from singing, which is a good thing, but these digital movers and shakers have already implemented the CTP workflow successfully, using copydot scanning to convert any ads they receive conventionally, and begun the necessary ROI. In addition, most larger advertising agencies are now shipping digital ads to publications that request digital material. They are able to do this at no additional cost and, if volume is a factor, they should be seeing savings.
Meanwhile, the publication camp is divided. Some publications have implemented a completely digital workflow, while other publications are, apparently, doing nothing at all. The end result is an enormous gap between those that can, and those that cannot. The biggest challenge is when a publication's advertising base is the smaller ad agency, design studio, or mom-and-pop shop. In this case, asking for a TIFF-IT/P1 file is an unrealistic request, as it will cost more to produce than film.
It is also highly likely that, due to the potential savings, these advertisers would prefer to cut out the middleman, prepress vendor or service bureau completely and create the final digital ad material themselves. This means that the publication has to be prepared to accept a wide variety of file formats, or select a few and educate.