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Searching for answers to digital glut

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Digital media files—the Web-ready versions of photos, videos, sound bites and documents—have become increasingly important raw ingredients behind a modern, integrated marketing plan. But companies are inundated with these files, and when they’re routed through so many corporate departments and pored over by so many eyeballs, managing them becomes a near-impossible chore.

Having a central clearinghouse for all their digital media files, accessible to everyone in the brand management food chain, is crucial for marketers such as San Francisco-based ad agency Publicis & Hal Riney. "It’s a huge need," said Bethanne Makohin, senior VP-print production director at Publicis & Hal Riney. "It saves time in terms of the workflow process. It’s all about getting your assets deployed in a proper fashion."

Managing brand content

Artmachine Inc., which launched in May 2000, is one of the companies addressing such concerns through its content management software tool. Other key players in this space include Artesia Technologies Inc. and Emperative Inc. Artmachine’s technology seeks to speed the process of going to market by helping companies instantly move brand content—digitized marketing collateral, press releases, print ads and video testimonials—to the "customer-facing" personnel who drive sales.

The service is customized and built to client specifications. In addition to Publicis & Hal Riney, Artmachine’s clients include Applied Materials Inc. and Wells Fargo & Co. "If you talk to VPs of marketing, this is one of the points of pain," said Bret Waters, founder and CEO of Palo Alto, Calif.-based Artmachine. "They’re up to their ears in digital media files."

Artmachine’s technology is threefold and includes: the Refinery, which intelligently processes brand content; the Repository, which organizes content for easy retrieval; and the Factory, which enables online content to be deployed in a variety of digital and physical formats.

Customizing clients

Makohin said Artmachine is able to distinguish itself from other software providers through its customization. "Each of our clients has different needs. [Artmachine] enables us to retrieve quickly all the images needed for [each client’s] products," she said, adding that Artmachine helps the company that uses the software, as well its clients and partners.

The level of customization determines Artmachine’s fees for site creation, which range from $25,000 to $75,000. Follow-up costs depend on how much support the customer requires from the vendor.

An independent study conducted by NextQuarter L.L.C., and commissioned by Artmachine, found that an enterprisewide deployment of Artmachine’s brand content management services can provide a return of up to $4 million annually. "Some of our clients using Artmachine are looking at a 50% return on investment in the first year and then a good 75% in the following years," Makohin said.

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