Starting with accepting digital material ‘online’ for advertisements, Times of India is getting ready to lead the next change – digitalization of complete media processes, including advertising sales, production planning and later full scale CRM. It expects ‘complete transparency’ and better relationship with business associates in times to come. And as this broad agenda gets implemented, it is ready to execute something that it got a little behind – Going ‘narrow.’
Like some of its the key competitors, Times of India publication will be slimmer from 16th May. The narrower version of Times of India and other group publications will maintain the 8 column format but the column size would reduce to 38.5 mm from the current 45.5 mm. The gutter space of 3 mm will, however, remain the same. The height of the paper will remain 52.5 mm.
This though is a mandatory change. The more profound agenda at Times is to drive digitalization of workflow both internal and external and thereby move ahead. As reported by exchange4media on 8th April, Times group introduced RESPNET 2.0 on 5th April, to drive this change. RESPNET 2.0 allows an agency to log in (thru passwords) to the Times system, access information related to ad inventory - the availability, the positioning, the ad package etc., and then issue RO, instantly online. This, though, is a little away. For now, it is cajoling agencies to start ‘online’ digital delivery of material.
In a presentation titled ‘The Prepress movement: Digitalization, Product enhancement and RESPNET 2.0’ to media fraternity in Delhi, Debashish Ghosh, Chief Manager looking after IT & Operations of Response highlighted the benefits and simple operations it takes to send digital materials. Agency personnel need to register at www.response4u.com to assign username and unique password. This password would then allow user to upload ad material but only against a specific release order number. This digital material would instantly be available to all group office to be published when required.
But is the system foolproof? How does one ensure accurate reproduction of ads? “Well, if you follow a few simple steps, 99% of times your material will be accepted and reproduced properly,” says Ghosh. He highlights the system of ‘Pre-flight checking’ to reduce glitches. Pre-flight checking is essentially a through scan and checking of digital ad material to ensure its validity. Once approved, agencies can be reasonably certain of their material. “To be very sure, especially in case of colour ads, agencies can follow up with physical material, only to local office. Our office would then ensure the rest,” comments a guarded Ghosh.
How comfortable would the media operations executives be with handling online interfaces? Our quick check with a few key media people revealed that they indeed find this service implementable and beneficial. “While it would be some time before we get used to it, this can reduce cost and our reponse time significantly,” said a senior media manager.
So the Times races ahead, again. Are others working to catching up?