What is Online Proofing?

What is Online Proofing?

What is Online Proofing?

Online proofing software, often synonymous with “review and approval software” allows marketers to more easily share and collect feedback. It is positioned as an improvement over traditional ad-hoc methods such as email, printouts, or hallway conversations.

The primary advantage that online proofing has over those traditional methods is centralized feedback which makes the collaboration on projects much more effective and precise. 

What is Online Proofing?
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Who Uses Online Proofing?

Marketing teams - within both agencies and brands - use online proofing applications to streamline the review and approval process for creative content. In many cases, agencies and their brand clients use the system collaboratively, sharing and collecting feedback in real-time. Attempting to do this over email could quickly lead to miscommunication and missed feedback, which contributes directly to missed deadlines.

From small, specialized teams to the largest global organizations, marketing companies of all sizes benefit from online proofing. The higher volume of content being produced, the increased number of people involved in the review/approval process and the more compliance in place, the greater the benefits of online marketing. 

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Key benefits are:

Streamlined review and approval processes

Streamlined review processes

Faster project delivery

Faster project delivery

Reduced cost through fewer revisions and rework

Reduced cost through fewer revisions and rework

Greater job satisfaction

Greater job satisfaction through the elimination of repetitive administrative tasks

How Does Online Proofing Work?

It all starts with a piece of content

It all starts with a piece of content - a design file, PDF, web page, image, etc. Files are uploaded to a secure server and then shared with a specific set of individuals. Settings can be leveraged to secure the proof to only known and authenticated reviewers. When setting up the review group, the proof owner can identify those team members with decision-making roles so that decisions can be documented - a fundamental requirement for pushing projects to next steps.

It all starts with a piece of content
Once a proof has been created

Once a proof has been created and the reviewers identified, team members are notified via email and are able to access the proof. This ensures that all team members are reviewing the same content in the same context. It also eliminates the risk of file types not being compatible, resolutions causing issues or file access excluding team members.

Once a proof has been created
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From there, reviewers can collaborate within the content itself providing comments, replies to comments and marking up specific areas of the content for precise and actionable feedback. It’s this precision of feedback which helps cut down on miscommunication, time loss and even rework due to missed feedback.

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Notifications can be set to alert team members

Notifications can be set to alert team members of new comments being made, as well as any decisions made on a proof. From there, a new version can be created and compared - down to the pixel level - to previous versions, so that team members can verify the required changes were made.

Notifications can be set to alert team members

Why Online Proofing is Superior to Email as a Feedback Tool

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Online proofing applications are more advantageous than email, as they allow for feedback to be provided directly on the content being reviewed. This contributes to:

  • Greater clarity and visibility into the review and approval process
  • Improved status tracking
  • Better collection of feedback and collaboration
  • Stronger version control and version comparisons
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Online Proofing Can Help Organizations Save Money

Online Proofing Can Help Organizations Save Money

A significant portion of any creative organization's budget is typically personnel - full-time, salaried employees, part-time employees and contractors. According to the recent In House Creative Industry Report, 86% of creative leaders planned to at least maintain, if not grow, their freelance hiring plans. 60% indicated that there were no term limits in place for freelancers.

Online proofing can demonstrate, almost immediately, tangible cost savings. This is true as it relates to the reduction of contract personnel, but also to the avoidance of unnecessary costs such as rework that may arise due to errors and poor quality control, and/or tactical costs such as printing.

Online Proofing Can Help Organizations Save Money
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Online Proofing Can Help Organizations Prove Marketing Compliance

Within the marketing resource management landscape, Gartner attributes the majority of their client inquiries to requests for creative production management. This is mainly due to interest in the compliance review process; managing and tracking collaborative reviews and approvals with annotations in one system. This is often driven by compliance requirements, both externally and internally.

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For many industries, marketing content needs to meet strict compliance requirements and can include, but is not limited to the following:

  • Brand compliance
  • Disclosures
  • Comparative claims
  • Special offers
  • Substantiation
  • Sweepstakes and contests
  • Marketing to children
  • Collection and use of marketing data

The risks of noncompliance can be significant - financial penalties, legal liabilities and customer confidence lost, to name a few. This is all before any re-work, often an unrecoverable cost in the agency world, is required.

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Key benefits are:

Commenting and markup capabilities in online proofing
Commenting and markup capabilities: the ability to make comments and perform markups to pieces of content is an absolute requirement for an online proofing solution. Comments and replies should be easy to make and markups should be as simple and straightforward as using PowerPoint or Google Sheets.
Version comparison and control in online proofing
Version comparison and control: An online proofing system should make it easy to create new versions of existing proofs, while at the same time, facilitating the comparison of versions on a single screen. This helps to verify requested changes were made, as well as see progress made across versions. Another requirement is that the comments of each version be maintained for informational and audit purposes.
Comprehensive File Support
Comprehensive File Support: Given the explosion of marketing channels, your online proofing system should support the review of a wide range of file types across design files, static content, website pages and rich media such as audio and visual files. This allows for multi-channel campaigns to be reviewed simultaneously within the same system, avoiding time-sinking context switching between apps.
Integration Capabilities
Integration Capabilities: An online proofing system should work with your existing and planned technologies, such as project management, DAM, and chat. This will not only increase overall productivity, but also allow for faster internal adoption of the online proofing system.
Security and Continuity

Security and Continuity: rigorous security standards, both in terms of content accessibility, as well as the infrastructure of the web-based technologies being utilized. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Review group member authentication
  • Proof download administration
  • Encryption at rest
  • Disaster recovery
  • Support and up-time SLAs
Ziflow’s approach to online proofing

Conclusion

When considering the core benefits of implementing an online proofing solution, it’s important to also factor in the impact of the status quo. The impact of leaving inefficient processes unchecked can have significant opportunity costs associated with them, which could potentially stunt long term growth.

Online proofing has been called “the quickest win in marketing technology”, mainly due to the ease of implementation and internal adoption of focused, best-of-breed offerings. As discussed herein, there are long-term, tangible benefits to driving greater efficiency in marketing organizations. For more information on Ziflow’s approach to online proofing, you can visit our product page or contact a product specialist to get further information.

Online Proofing Resources:

Ziflow’s approach to online proofing

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