a360media – Magazine Giant Deploys Content Store in the Cloud
A platform that can handle tens of millions of assets, easily integrates with our workflow, and enables image recognition and visual search
a360media owns and operates the leading celebrity and health & fitness media brands in the USA. Previously known as American Media, Inc. (AMI), a360media pioneered both the celebrity and health & fitness categories. During the 1960s, the National Enquirer was the first magazine to begin publishing celebrity news and gossip on a weekly basis. Weider Publications (acquired by a360media in 2003) launched the very first health & fitness magazine, Your Physique, in 1940. a360media created the concept of 360º marketing programs by being the first company to integrate editorial, print, digital, mobile, and events into one package for its advertisers. Today, a360media’s celebrity titles have the #1 market share in total newsstand circulation in the celebrity category and are the fastest-growing brands online. a360media’s health & fitness titles command the #1 market share of national magazine ad pages in their competitive set.
Situation- a360media Needed To Replace Their Image Repository
As part of a long-term vision to migrate IT Systems and Services to the cloud, when a360media chose to replace its internal image repository, they wanted to be sure its replacement could provide the level of service and support they required and could be accessed from any of its offices or by any personnel, regardless of where they were based. That’s when a360media turned to London-based IDS, a FADEL company.
a360media’s brief was simple in concept: give us a fast, easy-to-use system that will handle tens of millions of assets and can process 100,000 images on Oscar night. Keep the hi-res files away from our network until we need them, deal with all agency feeds, and easily integrate with our workflow.
An industry veteran with more than 25 years’ experience, a360media’s Executive Vice President Chief Information Officer, Dave Thompson, has seen dramatic changes during his career in publishing.
Having worked with newspaper and magazine publishers for 20 years, IDS, a FADEL company, was familiar with the pressures picture editors face when a story breaks as they are going to press. Thompson appointed a360media’s Senior IT Operations Director, Peter Brennan, to liaise with IDS, who provided a360media with a custom SaaS solution based on its flagship image portal, PictureDesk.
a360media’s archive of 5 million images and PDFs was ingested by PictureDesk and 50 photo agencies were set up to supply to a360media’s titles. The custom solution was then integrated into the workflow. Using PictureDesk, a360media users can publish images directly from PictureDesk to its DALIM workflow with the touch of a button. Within a matter of weeks, the company developed and delivered a bespoke SaaS solution that met all the requirements of the original brief.
Historically, IDS’ business has been in creating very fast, large databases using text to find images. The newer range of services is based on its proprietary visual search algorithm which uses images to match images and retrieve relevant metadata. This allows PictureDesk to automatically match images based on visual characteristics alone. Integrating this software to a360media’s system unlocks additional value for the publisher.
a360media uploads each issue of its publications to PictureDesk as a PDF. The system then identifies the images and, using its image discovery algorithm, extracts thousands of features to create a unique visual fingerprint. The fingerprint is used to query the image database and identify which images have been used in each page of a magazine. The image discovery identifies images even where they have been significantly altered, as demonstrated below:
Innovative Image Discovery : Deconstructing Composites
Single composite image as it appeared on the client’s website
The image discovery identifies the three images that were cropped, cut out, and composited
By applying the image discovery algorithm to its PDF library, a360media can determine the origination of any image and accurately quantify page costs and settle licensing fees. Gone are the days when editors need to mark up hard copies with Sharpies and Post-It notes for reconciliation.
a360media’s use of image discovery represents the tip of the iceberg in terms of what publishers could do with the service. Whether it’s a ‘pre-flight’ check before publication to confirm rights or identify legal warnings, or tracking usage of its own images across a portfolio of titles, image discovery has the power to unlock value with every publisher.
The solution has been a great success for a360media, Peter Brennan explains, “Working with IDS, a FADEL company, has been very rewarding. They understand our needs and are highly responsive when we require changes or customisation. The migration to the new system has been very positively received. The integration to our workflow is slick, and the ability to match images in PDFs through the overlay of image discovery is truly unique.”
Mathew Carse, IDS’ Founder, echoes the sentiment, “It’s a real pleasure to work with a company like a360media that knows exactly what it wants. They have high standards and demand them of others. This can be challenging but it has meant that we have been able to supply a first-class system to meet their needs.”