Admation In Depth

A guide to online proofing

If you’re not familiar with online proofing, then it’s likely you’re spending too much time and energy on manually managing your approval process. Online proofing is a fast and fail-safe way to get your marketing content approved, helping you to meet deadlines, stay within budget and produce high quality work.

Let’s take a closer look at online proofing.

What is online proofing?

Online proofing is the process by which marketing teams and ad agencies manage their approval workflow online. Everything from project brief and documents, artwork creation through to final artwork is managed and approved through a central platform that allows users to:

  • Mark up and request changes online
  • Collate and send stakeholder feedback
  • Proof and revise artwork
  • Compare artwork versions
  • Set unique approval pathways to ensure all stakeholders sign off on collateral.

If your approval workflow is getting bogged down in manual administration, then perhaps it’s time for online proofing software to streamline the process.

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What is online proofing software?

An online proofing solution provides a central hub for approving marketing collateral. This means all artwork, feedback and approvals are saved in the one location so that stakeholders have access to this content at all times. An online proofing solution dispenses with the manual administration of approval workflow; so finding the right feedback, locating a final approval or knowing the status of your project in an instance is a simple task.

Online Proofing Tools
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Why do you need an online proofing solution?

Anyone working in marketing would agree that today they are required to produce and deliver more marketing collateral than ever before. Gone are the days where a campaign simply involved producing print collateral such as flyers, press ads and banners.

Nowadays, a marketing campaign needs to be delivered in multiple formats, and distributed across a broad range of platforms to reach a wider, global market. On top of that, legal compliance is more complex, a greater number of stakeholders are involved in the approval process, and this all needs to happen in shorter timeframes.

The truth is, traditional proofing methods are no longer able to keep up with the industry requirements. Even companies that have had some advancement in their approval work practices by introducing desktop tools such as Adobe or Microsoft mark up or delivery tools such as drop box and ftp servers, would be finding that their processes are still very manual, time consuming, and do not provide a cohesive or collaborative approval workflow.

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Is your Marketing team ready for online proofing software?

  • Is your marketing team or ad agency experiencing high revisions counts on artwork?
  • Do you feel like you don’t have transparency across your project at all times?
  • Is feedback from stakeholders ambiguous or lacks the required detail?
  • Are you going over budget more times than not?
  • Are you struggling to meet your marketing compliance requirements or are stakeholders reviewing artwork at the wrong time in the process?
If you’ve answered yes to any of these questions then it’s probably time to consider implementing an online proofing solution. Finally you can know where your project is at anytime, from anywhere. Stay on deadline and on budget. And most importantly, feel confident that what is going to market is 100% correct and compliant.

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The benefits of online proofing far outweigh traditional methods for managing approval workflow

Online Proofing Software delivers a range of great benefits to your ad agency or marketing team:

1. Eliminate email approvals: If you’ve ever found yourself trawling through emails searching for feedback, artwork changes or an approval, then you know how frustrating and time consuming this can be. Online proofing software provides a central online platform where all feedback and approvals are saved and easily located. Some software will enable you to collate and batch feedback, and then automatically generate one change request summary report for your studio or creative team. This has to be better than sending innumerable emails, which are difficult to track and time consuming to decipher.

2. Eliminate the need to manually update spreadsheets to track projects: Not only is it tedious having to manually update Word documents and Excel spreadsheets, it eats into your work day. With online proofing, once you’ve created your project the software automatically tracks all work in progress. This means stakeholders can log in at any time to see the project status. Some proofing software enables you to generate a WIP report at the click of a button for your weekly progress meetings.

3. Eliminate excessive artwork revisions: Dispense with handwritten mark ups that are illegible or email correspondences that don’t visually show you what needs to be changed. Online proofing software provides easy to use mark up and compare revision tools, so that artwork changes are easy to decipher. Zoom in and circle the area that needs to be amended and then add a comment detailing the change. Confusion over artwork versions is a thing of the past because now you can easily compare the previous version with the current one side-by-side on your screen.

4. Increased accountability and transparency: Online proofing software provides a record of all feedback and changes so that stakeholders are accountable for their work. Additionally, some solutions will send alerts to remind stakeholders when feedback or approvals are due or outstanding. Stakeholders from different departments or external agencies can log in at any time and see how the project is tracking as the software can be accessed remotely.

5. Improve the overall delivery and quality of your project: With a seamless approval workflow, online proofing enables projects to get approved faster with the ability to set your own approval paths so that stakeholders are involved in the process at the correct time and no stakeholder is overlooked. With its transparent feedback system, online proofing proves to be less error-prone which means that what goes to market is what should go to market. An effective approval workflow process means that you’re likely to stay on budget.

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What kind of features will an online proofing solution offer?

If you’re going to upgrade to an online proofing solution, these are the kinds of features to look out for:

Approval Lists

Approval lists is a handy feature that will allow users to track approvals. By simply viewing the list, you can ascertain which items have been approved. This feature might also provide fixed approval paths to ensure that the required stakeholders always approve content prior to it going to market.

Project Overview

A project overview allows users to ascertain the status of the overall project is at in an instance. Designated icons usually indicate whether a milestone or project is new, in progress, completed.

Request Notifications

Request notifications is a feature that can help stakeholders stay in the loop by sending a message that artwork is pending approval.

Forward for feedback

A Forward for Feedback feature will allow you to forward any deliverable onto selected team members or stakeholders for feedback. It also lets you set deadlines for feedback, attach files and add comments.

Compare versions

A feature enabling you to compare one version of artwork alongside a previous version can be a huge benefit to stakeholders, including a studio operator or someone in account services. This makes is really simply to compare revisions and check that all changes have been made before sending it on for approval.

Mark up changes

Another great asset to an online proofing solution is being able to mark up changes onscreen on any type of media file (print, video, fl ash and websites). Simply highlight the area that needs to be amended and then add a comment outlining the change.

Automated reminders

Automated reminders keep your stakeholders on their toes. If the solution has it, this is a great little tool which sends a reminder to stakeholders that approval is pending.

Email delays

Don’t get bogged down in emails again. This feature will prevent users from being overwhelmed with more emails by sending them in batches. Usually you can choose to have email delays set to anywhere between 5 minutes to 24 hours.

Reserve button

If your online proofing solution includes a reserve button, it’ll be really useful for your legal department. A team member can reserve a job for review so that everyone else in the team knows this job will be attended to, which means no doubling up.


Reporting tools is a feature that will allow you to measure the activity and effectiveness of each project.