Digital Brands Have New Compliance Challenges – The Right Tools Can Help

By Anthony Welgemoed, CEO, Ziflow

In today’s digital world, new compliance demands for brand and regulatory requirements present a huge hurdle for marketing and creative teams to overcome. Here’s how teams can address these challenges with the proper tools.

Every marketer has been there; a client (internal or external) just moved up the deadline for an urgent social ad placement, the team is now working double-time to push through edits to v7, and there’s still additional signoffs needed. These types of situations are becoming more frequent for many creative teams and marketers that are being asked to deliver more content, for more channels, than ever before. By placing such an emphasis on volume and frequency of delivery, brand and regulatory compliance often get overlooked or are seen as just one more roadblock in the constant battle to launch marketing campaigns on time.

Marketing compliance is a huge hurdle for marketing and creative teams to overcome in today’s digital world, and its complexity has moved far beyond trademark attribution and copyright designations. In fact, nearly 80% of marketing teams that our company surveyed recently said their work was subject to at least one type of brand or industry compliance requirement such as FINRA, ADA, FDA, SEC, or GDPR regulations. Especially for highly regulated industries like healthcare, finance and legal, there may be specific regulatory laws, policies or brand guidelines that companies must adhere to.

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Defining Challenges for Marketing Compliance

Marketing compliance encompasses the full internal requirements that a marketing or creative team has to address in order to comply with brand guidelines for public-facing content or, in terms of regulatory compliance, the law. With so much at stake, the way that content flows between collaborator and approval decisions is now just as scrutinized as the language and visuals contained in content itself. That means that the systems, processes and tools used during the planning, content production, and distribution and content delivery steps of a marketing campaign are all fair game for compliance oversight. Just as importantly, this capacity also extends to the actions of any brand or advertising partners coordinating campaign promotions.

Despite being architects of complex digital advertising campaigns, many marketing and creative teams still put up with project feedback methods that are typically problematic for auditing and communication, such as email, hard copy printouts, sticky notes, and other non-digital methods. Here are some of the major challenges that teams run into when creating and adhering to a compliant creative production processes:

  1. Unclear Regulations for New Media Formats – Marketing departments are producing huge amounts of content at a faster rate than ever before, and the regulatory guidelines for advertising and distributing content on many of the new platforms and channels, such as social media, haven’t yet caught up with their popularity.
  2. Interconnected Content Formats with Disconnected Approval Workflows – With so many mediums, marketing assets created for one campaign or channel are now repurposed and reformatted for omnichannel use. Although these assets are often related, each new format means they might be subject to completely different production and approval workflows with teams that are disconnected from each other.
  3. More Collaborators & More Reviewers – Given the breadth and reach of today’s multi-channel campaigns, the number of stakeholders involved in sign off has the potential to increase complexity. Not only do more reviewers need access and markup abilities on content in native formats while still seeing all campaign elements in one place, they need to ensure it moves up the “chain of command” properly. Security, storage space, workflow, and access policies must change in response to these needs without hampering campaign delivery timelines.
  4. Version Sprawl Across Systems – Even when verbal or email feedback is transformed into digital assets, a versioning problem across content systems and teams can quickly present itself. Controlling content versions across systems, file formats, and collaborators makes marketing compliance a particularly challenging task.
  5. Poor Project Archival – Having an auditable record of marketing activities is simple with print production; digital and omnichannel marketing is another story. Maintaining a clear history of who created, accessed, and approved specific assets and systems, and which audiences saw those assets on which channels is a complex web of compliance monitoring.

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Revamping Marketing Compliance Processes

So how do marketing and creative professionals overcome these compliance-related challenges, and how do they know what they truly need to refine internal processes?

When evaluating how to best establish content management functionalities that address compliance, teams must have the right processes in place to ensure the right people are reviewing the accurate version at the right time in the workflow order. Whether building internally or integrating third party tools, these features allow work to pass quickly up the chain, and leave behind a clear, concise record for compliance and regulatory needs, including:

  • Audit Trails – Digital breadcrumbs are critical for teams to show who accessed, commented and provided decisions on a proof. If or when a company is asked to show proof of compliance for regulatory statutes, it’s important to ensure those running records are easily accessible and entirely accurate.
  • Logged Comments and Annotation – Tracking and timestamping every comment, annotation or reply made on a proof is key when determining why a new version was created.
  • Version Control – To ensure all work is being done on the most current version, it’s important that teams have the ability to “lock” a proof and then save and store source files and final versions in an acceptable format and location.
  • Confidentiality and Review Automation – Controlling who has access to what, when and where is a tall order when you don’t have the proper systems in place. Workflows that are automated can ensure the right people get the right content at the right time, while providing confidentiality at any point in the review process.
  • Security – In turn, review automation and confidentiality support security efforts as well, both internally and externally. Teams benefit when added layers of security are in place before a proof is accessed for review, and implementing authorization practices is critical.

New Needs for a Changing Industry

When your workflow depends on scattered check-ins, phone calls, emails, and reminders, it leaves the door open for brand and regulatory compliance issues. Likewise, remote work has only drawn more attention to weaknesses in older processes, such as email, for supporting geographically disparate teams. To make the approval process for marketing content easier, and to reduce the need for manual review, implementing an automated workflow is key to keeping things running smoothly and ensuring compliance. No matter the regulations your brand must adhere to, building a strong marketing compliance program with the right tools, workflows, and automation will support your business in operating as efficiently as possible.

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