Monday, January 19, 2009

Designers + Printers + Newspapers = new value?

Interesting conversation about newspapers breaking out at PrintCeoBlog. 28 comments as of this morning. It was started by BoSacks with a post called the Publishing Canary Theory Revisited. Most definitely worth the click.

Anyway after a while I said,
It’s not newspapers that are broken. It’s the idea that advertising will support anything with reach Here’s an excerpt from Seeking Alpha

“Pundits will argue that with increased ad targeting, profiling, and all sorts of other algorithmic alchemy, online ad revenues will be boosted. In my opinion, such talk is nonsense insofar as brand advertising (not direct response) is concerned. Rather, a seismic shift is underway – one that will not only change the nature of advertising, but will also show that the last century of offline advertising witnessed a tremendous amount of money being flushed down the toilet. We are a lot smarter than we were 50 years ago, and those analog dollars really should have been analog pennies all along.”

Now that the advertising game is coming to close, magazine publishers and newspaper publishers are going to have to invent stuff that people will willingly buy. Given how much people love Print, it shouldn’t be that hard, but it is a different way to think about it."

A little later Andy McCourt said.

. . Digital, multiple-site newspaper printing will alleviate much of the timeliness, environmental and delivery issues. Micro publishing, hyper-localisation and of course localised advertising, will provide the economic modelling. As with all targeted, ‘rifle’ media, as opposed to ’shotgun’ - we will see fewer copies printed because what you are eliminating is the wasted shots.
And then he said,
There are more horses in the USA today than at any time pre-automobile. It’s just they are not used for transport, unless you are Amish. Most are beautiful fine thoroughbreds or leisure animals. They are looked up to and respected, treated well and regarded often as ‘noble’ and ‘dependable.’. . . That could be print communications in the future…noble and respected, not used for the bulk of information/knowledge dissemination, but still widespread and powerful.
And then a little later, Andy continued
, ...Oz is Australia, where wizards live. Wizards in print anyway. We’re right next to the cheapest sources of printing (Asia) and still our industry manages to fight on, invest, survive although one could not say prosper right now. APN who I mentioned do a lot of magazine printing (heatset) both for their own (coldset)publications and contract work, but they do have a successful sheetfed operation too. . . .
Once a newspaper goes combination heatset/coldset and can switch between the 2, it should open up certain commercial opportunities but these are likely to be from their existing client base or for publications they control, such as tourist guide ‘newzines’ in areas where they also publish a daily/bi-weekly/weekly. Their sales people can then offer the new product to existing newspaper advertisers, with the added benefit of longevity, higher quality and broader distribution.

Main limitation is in the finishing - often plain vanilla, maybe with a ‘fudge’ topping, in newspapers.
Then I asked:
1. Does it make sense for newspapers to network with commerical printers. One to share sales people. Printer salespeople could cross sell advertising. Get a normal commission from the newspapers. And sell commercial print at their normal commissions from the Printer. The second would be for newspapers to act as Print brokers according to standard industry protocols.

2. I believe that if some creative design talent started from the “plain vanilla” finishing, they could innovate new products that are of same form, but meet the needs of new markets in education ,health and government with appropriate content and design.

The discussion continues at PrintCeoBlog among many other places on the web.

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