The Time's Are A-Changing
In this age of media conglomerates, corporate mergers and vertical integration, Time Inc. (www.timeinc.com) is nothing less than a heavyweight in its class. Owned by parent company AOL Time Warner, the company has 57 magazines under its umbrella, which in total have more than 268 million readers. Popular titles such as Time, Sports Illustrated, People and Entertainment Weekly satiate America's appetite for news, sports reports and celebrity gossip. With the aforementioned magazines, Time Inc. is the only U.S. company to publish four national consumer weeklies. In the past 10 years, the publisher has undertaken nine major magazine launches. Finally, it also has its hand in the direct marketing of music and video products.
So, much like the E.F. Hutton of old, when Time Inc. talks, people listen. And the company's recent announcement that it would only accept digital ads as PDF/X-1a files beginning June 1 is not without significance. The decision is laudable in that it endeavors to impose a unilateral standard that will benefit publishers, advertising agencies, prepress suppliers and printers. It also signals that the company is readying itself to take advantage of the many cross-media opportunities that are currently being cultivated. But if advertisers are going to adhere to the standard, Time Inc. must implement an effective communication strategy.
Several factors contributed to Time Inc.'s decision to adopt PDF/X-1a as the file format of choice. Explains Erik Cullins, associate director of digital development: "PDF is not a new technology; it was originally developed ten years ago. Many others in the industry have been building and printing with PDF workflows for years. PDF/X-1a is the print-ready version of the file format. In addition to our internal PDF workflow, PDF/X-1a is recognized as an international standard. ISO, ANSI, CGATS and SWOP all support PDF/X-1a for digital file exchange."