Archive for the ‘print broker’ Category

The print aggregation models of today and tomorrow are by nature both digital and virtual. And the rise of “Augmented Reality” in print is a natural evolution for gaining more benefits from print aggregation. As evidence of this new reality in print, the CBS broadcast network advertised its fall TV season with a video-chip ad embedded in an issue of Entertainment Weekly. The September 18 issue of the Time Inc. owned magazine featured the first video ad to appear in print and it certainly will not be the last. The print aggregation model is ideally suited to integrate these interactive technologies and print production by putting all the relevant vendors into a single database. While the exact details of the future of Augmented Reality are not clearly known today, print aggregation assures that wherever the technological breakthroughs are, they will be visible and accessible through print aggregation software.

The following excerpts are from an article on augmented reality and include many good examples:

“As we look back at 2009, a technology milestone for the printing industry, marketing communications, education, and the media world may be the rise of augmented reality. Augmented reality (AR) is a field of computer science that involves combining the physical world with an interactive, three-dimensional virtual world. This term might be new to some of you, but augmented reality makes print the ultimate in interactive media. Engaging customers with print is sometimes difficult, but augmented reality is popping up everywhere to drive product sales, get people to open magazines, and enhance the educational experience associated with books.

LEGO: Boosting Retail Sales with Augmented Reality
In November, Danish toy manufacturer LEGO launched its “DIGITAL BOX” in selected toyshops and LEGO stores worldwide. This interactive terminal utilizes innovative technology supplied by Munich-based augmented reality expert Metaio in the form of a software program specially developed for the LEGO Group. Together with a camera and display screen, the software enables a LEGO package to reveal its contents fully assembled within live 3-D animated scenes.
In today’s buyers’ market, purchasing decisions are often driven by consumer excitement about a product. This certainly applies to the toy market. Ideally, consumers will want to hold a potential purchase in their hands and look at it closely from all angles, but this can be difficult when the product is composed of individual pieces. For example, consider construction toys—even if you opened the box right away, it would take hours to find out what the toy looked like when it was assembled. The DIGITAL BOX from LEGO provides a solution. Parents and children can hold special LEGO boxes (containing a hydraulic digger or police station, for example) up to an interactive kiosk to see a 3-D animation of the assembled product superimposed on the box.
[See Lego Example, plus others]

Augmented reality may seem like science fiction or a reaction to today’s constant barrage of digital content, but it represents an important step on the road to making technology more understandable and useful. While some of the examples of augmented reality may appear gimmicky, my personal belief is that there is huge potential for AR across all industries. For example, an assembly line worker might be able to view step-by-step instructions within his field of vision while assembling a part, a surgeon could overlay an X-ray of a patient while operating to ensure a more precise incision, an architect could preview various prototypes of a building on-site before starting, or a clothing designer might visualize how an outfit will appear on different body types. Augmented reality will foster better ways to acquire, develop, and retain customers in a personalized, differentiated manner; better equip employees to ensure the maximum use of skills; and better educate students. Stay tuned for other new and visionary applications that will evolve as the virtual and physical worlds collide.”



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While digital printing is currently exploding in the print industry trade press and the general business press, there is another significant trend taking place – print aggregation.

Print aggregation is the exact innovation needed to fully maximize the potential for the digital printing revolution. The following excerpt from an article provides some additional insights:

“The advent of digital technology into printing resulted in the opening up of new avenues for the industry. The printing industry is very competitive with customers demanding shorter run lengths, personalization, and faster turnarounds. In order to capitalize on these demands new operational ways are needed, which would translate into innovative means to enhance productivity and return on investment.

Printing is rapidly shifting towards digitization primarily due to a multitude of advantages the technology offers. Advancements in the digital arena have further largely expanded its capabilities. Digital technology aids workflow logistics, enhances efficiency and effectively utilizes resources. Printing workflow when integrated with digital technologies significantly minimizes plate setting as well as press down time and thus cuts down set-up and batch changeover costs.”


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2GoTools – Digital Print Aggregation Storefronts or D-PAS for short.


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Customized or template business cards?
There is a third and more flexible option. 2GoTools provides Digital Print Aggregation Storefronts that will allow users to quickly upload any artwork they desire in creating business cards.  And at prices that remain below wholesale prices on the typically less costly template business card solutions. Why pay more to get what you really want to stand out from the crowd?

The following is an article that describes template verses custom business cards:

“Using templates for business card printing is what most businesspersons use nowadays for a quick and hassle free way to print. Meanwhile, some more creative entrepreneurs use customized designs.

However, hardly anyone takes the risk to be wild and creative about their designs, hence the use of templates. There are advantages and disadvantages in customizing and in using templates and the question of which design philosophy to use is a big one.

If you are confused yourself as to what to do with the design, here are the pros and cons of template based and custom business cards:

• Custom business card pros – The obvious advantage of is that your design can be original and distinct from others. You can be your own businessperson. You can place your own custom images, use custom fonts and add in other unusual business card details such as slogans or quotations. You have full control over how your output works and you can even adapt it so that you can look better and more professional than others can. This is perfect for businesspersons who really want to be remembered and distinguished from the rest of the people in their industry.

• Cons – The big con for custom business cards is the price. Customization does not come cheap. The use of exotic inks, non-standard shapes and even non-standard materials like plastic and metal can double the price of a business card quotation. In addition, with all the things you can do with designs, there is a risk of getting overboard with the layout. Heavily detailed can actually backfire on you and some people will not really take you seriously for overly wild or loud designs. Therefore, care must be taken to avoid too much customization. It may become expensive and a risk to your reputation.

• Template based business cards pros – The great thing about template-based is that everybody has a chance to create them. Most word processing programs and design applications have wizards that let experts and beginners design quite easily. One can even have a template-based output ready for printing within 10-15 minutes if you know what you are doing. Therefore, if you want an uncomplicated time in printing and designing, using template layouts are the best choice.

Cons – The bad thing about using templates though is that they can get boring or common. Since many people use it because it is fast and convenient, there will be little originality. It will be hard to stand out against other business contacts since your output may look almost the same as with the others. You pay that price though for convenience.”


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The Digital Printing Council’s goal is to build awareness of the opportunities existing for commercial printers to move some percentage of their business to “the cloud”. This is also a goal of 2GoTools. And with 2GoTools the opportunities are multiplied by incorporating a print aggregation model.

The following press release provides some additional detail:

“CRW Graphics won an Exceptional Website Award in the Printing Industries of America Web2awards contest for its customized Saks Fifth Avenue Invitations on Demand web-to-print site. CRW was one of only 16 companies to win an Exceptional Website Award.

“These awards highlight the role the Internet has come to play in the printing industry. By recognizing excellence in print-related websites, the Digital Printing Council helps to encourage each printer’s advancement in doing some portion of their business in the ‘cloud,” said Julie Shaffer, vice president, digital technologies for Printing Industries of America.

An independent panel of undisclosed judges deliberated over dozens of web-to -print websites. They evaluated each website’s experience based on six scoring criteria. “I was impressed with the quality and diversity of the entries. Obviously some are better than others, but overall they all demonstrated how they are embracing the Web and using it as a tool to advance their print-related business,” commented one of this year’s judges.”


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September 2009 – Commercial printing shipments drop by 10.8% compared to September of last year. And it’s refreshing to read somebody stating that the printing industry has been in a paradigm shift for more than a decade before the current recession. It turns out that new media is pulling plenty of advertising dollars away from traditional advertising formats, e.g. printed marketing materials.

Today web technology that has taken a bite out of print is beginning to put the profitability back into commercial printing via print aggregation storefronts (PAS). This new technology comes just in time to match the dynamic changes that are occurring in the commercial printing industry in late 2009.

The following article provides some additional details:

“September commercial printing shipments were nearly $7.5 billion, down -10.8% compared to September of last year. September is the first of what are commercial printing’s biggest three-month period, with catalog, retail, and advertising printing boosted by the holiday shopping season,” said Dr. Webb, director of WhatTheyThink’s Economics and Research Center. “There are many reasons for the change in print’s seasonality, but this one has been evolving for years, and can’t be attributed to recessionary forces, no matter how tempting that might be,” he noted. Shipments had not been below $8 billion in a September since 1994.

Forecasts of corporate advertising spending for the next few years indicate little change from current levels, but a massive re-allocation of the dollars in those spending plans. Traditional advertising formats have been giving way to public relations, social media, and many other media that have lower production cost, and often have greater reach.

Dr. Webb portrayed the commercial printing industry situation as follows: “The communications market is so dynamic, that the guidelines for media selection and deployment are being revised every day. We know that, in most cases, print can work alongside the newest communications media to make strategies more effective and efficient. It’s up to each printing business to join in this communications chaos with new ideas, compelling services, and creative approaches directed to individual client objectives. Printers must demonstrate their competence in new media by using these media in their own businesses.”


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It’s interesting that this version of the right size for a printing company is based on data that is prior to 2008. With the printing industries’ adoption of print aggregation models, the right size becomes highly dynamic and should be answered with “it depends”. It depends on how effectively a printing company can integrate print aggregation technology into their business model. Suffice to say, the right size has little to do with the number of employees and everything to do with the amount of sales revenue generated for the business.

The following is an excerpt from an article about the the optimum size for printing companies:

“It was started by George Alexander, a veteran print industry journalist, and because it’s so relevant to the industry segments served by A Printing Office, we’re quoting it in full here:

“A recent study by the German consulting company Pier 18 suggests that medium-sized printing companies (100-500 employees) are surviving the best in these difficult times. The report looked at the period between 2004 and 2008, a period when the number of German printing companies decreased by 10%. Most of the troubled companies were very large or very small. The only size group that increased was the 100-500 employee group. The report concludes that this is the best size for a printing company. (From: What’s the ideal size for a printing company?)

“On the other hand, Heidelberg’s second-in-command, Jürgen Rautert, thinks many medium-sized firms are doomed to disappear. He says: ‘There will be a structural change in the direction that the medium-sized printers will form a substantially smaller percentage of the industry in two or three year’s time. The big ones will grow and the small ones will maintain profitable niches, offering special services or servicing local business mostly. The medium-sized printers, I think, will either shrink or grow by consolidation. So this hourglass effect will happen: the industry will no longer be a pyramid – it will be an hourglass, more larger printers and smaller printers and the medium-sized printers will thin out.”


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