She also adds that agencies must understand the importance of shaping digital relationships with publishers' regulations in mind. In the interim, regular phone calls, periodic visits and technical communications will initiate dialogue and good digital practices. And while most successful agencies excel in client relationships, they do not always recognize the value of building relationships with publishers. Because this is a high-tech age, it is increasingly important to outline transactional prerogatives among a wider variety of partners, be it agencies, publishers and even those fading prepress houses.
A group effort
Digital Ad Lab (DAL) promotes standardization in cooperation with agencies, including Saatchi and Saatchi and McCann Erikson; publishers Time, The Hearst Corporation, Hachette Filipacchi and Forbes; prepress suppliers NEC, AGT and Image Axis; and printers Quebecor, World Color and Quad. The independent group is responsible for the initial digital ad case studies published as early as 1997. Since then, DAL pursues digital proofing improvement projects, standardizes digital ad workflows and benchmarks PDF-X file formats. At www.digitaladlab.com, free downloads are available for TIFF/IT-PI viewer from Rorke and CreoScitex's Synapse demo, a PDF workflow automation tool that has been widely implemented between publishers and agencies.
Barbara Mathieson, production director at Hammock Publishing, says laying down digital ad rules saves money and time. "The TIFF-ITs that we have received from agencies—though few—have worked perfectly at the printer," she notes. "Our second choice is preflighted native files in Mac format with all the supporting images and fonts. The files we get from major agencies are usually correct."
Even though Hammock has set file standards, compromise is key. Mathieson admits, "We will take any format for an ad, including PC format or film. We have rebuilt ads for some of our trucking industry clients. Ads are coming to us better prepared. Agencies especially are flightchecking their ads to insure that the fonts and images are complete." But Mathieson notes, "We did get a low-res image on an ad for our last issue of MyBusiness, which we had to run. The ad will repeat in the next issue and I've asked the advertiser to supply a new image, as I've seen it run hi-res in other magazines."