DAM in Advertising: An Interview with David Plavin of Publicis
Our very own Joscelyn Zell sat down with David Plavin from Publicis Groupe to talk about how Digital Asset Management helps one of the world’s largest advertising firms streamline workflow.
Joscelyn Zell: Hi, David!
David Plavin: Hello!
JZ: What is your current role is at Publicis?
DP: I’m considered a global architect for creative, but I’m really a creative solutions service manager. I basically work with creative departments to provide solutions for anything that will help them be more efficient in getting their work done.
JZ: And how long have you been with the organization?
DP: 21 years.
JZ: Can you talk about how Publicis uses digital assets?
DP: Digital assets are an integral part of everything we do, whether it’s a print piece, a website, or a TV ad—digital assets are everywhere. Digital assets are the cornerstone of creative, and creative is the cornerstone of the entire company.
JZ: Are there solutions for the individual teams, or across divisions, or a little bit of both?
DP: It’s a little bit of both.
JZ: How many users do you have on your digital asset management solution (Extensis Portfolio)?
DP: Probably a couple hundred. I have eight servers for now.
JZ: How many assets you have?
DP: The average server has 100,000 or more.
JZ: What are the driving factors in terms of needing a DAM solution?
DP: We need a library for assets. And we need a centralized repository. We use DAM for both of those.
JZ: I understand you recently did some work with the API. What systems are you integrating with?
DP: We built a system that utilizes Portfolio. It utilizes a FileMaker Pro application. We also use a pre-production DAM GlobalEDIT. And we built and published a website out of it. When we designed it, it was meant to be consumer-friendly. We had all these different people in different roles that were going to be looking for assets. We gave them a much simpler view in either a website or a database. It was all built on integration. Most of the data came out of Portfolio. We had the API to help us with rights management. We have a system now that when images are about to expire, an email goes out. So everybody that’s involved—whether it’s an account manager or art director or whatever—can see what images are expiring and when. That was built from the API. The other API piece was getting data out of Portfolio and into FileMaker Pro, so we used it in two different ways.
JZ: If somebody else was doing a similar API integration, would you pass on any words of wisdom?
DP: Everything’s heading toward integration—but you can’t do it with just one tool. We have metadata that’s entered into GlobalEDIT, and then once those images are moved into Portfolio, that metadata comes with them. We had 35 metadata fields in one of them, and we built out the same metadata structure in both. When we moved the images back and forth between the two, the metadata was there, so we only had to enter it once.
JZ: Any benefits you’ve seen as a result of integration?
DP: The database handles things that Portfolio doesn’t. For example, we used the FileMaker Pro database to attach paperwork like contracts and invoices—things I don’t want to see in a DAM system when I’m searching for images. I don’t want to be sifting through documents. So, if we had an image that, for example, had a talent release and contract that went with it, it’s a lot easier to view it in the database than it would be to search for all that stuff in Portfolio.
JZ: Anything else on the API that you think is important to share?
DP: There’s a ton of potential. If you want to do more customized websites, you could use the API to do that. A DAM system is a great back end for a lot of websites, especially if you want to make assets available over the internet, obviously.
JZ: Any last advice for companies looking to implement a solution?
DP: 5, 10, 15 years ago, DAM was considered like a luxury item. Now it’s a necessity. Especially if you’re working in the creative content world.
JZ: With the explosion of assets in the past 10 years, you mean?
DP: Yes. If you had a photo shoot 10 years ago, they would come back with 10 or 12 contact sheets with 12 frames on each one. Now they come back with 10,000 images.
JZ: Any best practices you think are critical to success?
DP: You need a digital librarian and an evangelist—you need a lot of people that are supporting the solution. Adoption still is a big thing, and I would say success is only possible if you have people that really want to make it work.
JZ: How do you get adoption? It sounds like you’ve got a librarian and people who are really dedicated to this system.
DP: Asset handling is changing very rapidly, and I think that companies that succeed are going to adopt it, and companies that don’t will suffer through the same inefficiency.
JZ: What have been the biggest benefits of Digital Asset Management have been for your organization?
DP: It makes us more productive and saves a ton of time. Basically, that’s the ROI that we look for—efficiency, time-saving, shorter production cycles, no reshoots of images, no images being used that rights have expired. Just one misused image can pay for the cost of a pretty effective DAM system.
Want to know how Digital Asset Management can streamline your organization’s workflow? Download our free DAM Best Practices Guide. You’ll learn how DAM can increase efficiency along with advice on how to choose the right system for your needs.