Automation in marketing, product communication and publishing

Ira Melaschuk

Automation in marketing and publishing refers to the reduction or replacement of manual activities through the use of various technologies and software to perform tasks and processes.

Artificial intelligence

Artificial intelligence is a technology that belongs to automation. AI enables the analysis, evaluation of large amounts of data and solution finding. For this purpose, human, intelligent abilities are simulated, such as pattern recognition, language processing, decision-making ability, learning ability or creativity. This is where the term “machine learning” comes in. Based on a sufficient amount of training data, results can be output, these can be evaluated and future processes can be corrected, “taught” so to speak.

Content-first and standardization

Content-first means creating a central content management system - as a starting point for the automated output of publications to the various media channels. In the area of product communication, there are examples where uniform product structures are applied in retail companies for web stores and print catalogs. Different content structures for the output channels are more frequently used in publishing and marketing.

Regardless of content structuring, it makes sense in terms of automation to largely finalize content within content management. All reconciliation processes should be predominantly completed before being routed out to a media channel to ensure that corrections are always executed in the data source. This can result in unfamiliar ways of working for clerks or editors, the benefits of which must be communicated.

Database / Dynamic publishing

Database publishing refers to the automated creation of publications by linking database content with publishing tools. Dynamic publishing focuses on adapting the publication to the content in accordance with the format and layout. Therefore, the size of a publication is determined by the amount of content. Three production paths are described below:

Publishing with layout plug-in

The publications are created in a layout program, usually InDesign. A plug-in enables the partially or fully automated transfer of database content. The layout is enriched with rules to control layout creation and formatting, and after automated layout creation, the publication can be further edited directly in the layout.

Publishing with templates

When publishing with templates, standardized templates are supplemented with sets of rules, then linked with database content and the publication, for example, generating a PDF. These templates can be created by technically-oriented graphic artists or media designers.

Publishing with guidelines

Publishing with a set of rules involves merging database content with a set of rules, for example based on XML, without the use of templates. This approach enables fully automated publication creation.

Workflow automation

To realize workflow automation, BPMN and no/low code solutions are presented here.

BPMN (Business Process Model and Notation) is a process modeling standard used to describe, visually represent and document business processes in companies in an understandable way. In software development, BPMN is used to model processes that are to be automated in an application.

No- or low-code platforms are development environments that enable IT laypersons to create software solutions using prefabricated modular function or application modules and drag-and-drop functionalities. Low-code means that little or no programming is required.

Real-time interface

Interfaces that enable data transfer between systems in real time are implemented using APIs (Application Programming Interfaces).  

An API can be programmed with programming languages, such as C+ or Java, or based on web technologies, such as the query languages REST (Representational State Transfer) and GraphQL. Software developers can provide documented APIs for their applications that make it easy for other system providers to develop data access through this interface.

Data hubs and headless systems

data sources, systems and media channels that need to be controlled with the appropriate data. For this purpose, information from multiple data sources is merged, profiled, segmented and used as a basis. As each interface is now developed for communication between two defined applications, the number of interfaces that need to be configured and maintained increases.

To reduce the effort of managing many individual interfaces, an API management layer can help, where access management, rights and roles management, authentification and monitoring are performed centrally for all interfaces.

The data from the various data sources can be managed in a further level, a so-called data hub. If recipient and target group data is also used for the personalization of media channels, this is referred to as a customer data platform (CDP).

Ideally, the media channels are based on such a uniform database. If the frontend development takes place independently of the system functions in the backend, it is a headless system.


Save time and costs

The use of technology for automation requires that time and costs can be saved.

Reduce complexity

In data management, content structures for print and digital output channels can be standardized. Further complexity reduction results from the standardization of layout structures. The more standardized layout structures are, the easier it is to implement rules for publication creation.

Need for automation

In marketing and communications, certain tasks can no longer be managed without automation, such as controlling the growing number of media channels and personalized addressing of users, prospects and customers in real time.

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