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Archive for the ‘Print Buyer’ 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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2GoTools – Digital Print Aggregation Storefronts or D-PAS for short.

 

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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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Yes, China is becoming a big story in the printing industry just like it is in so many other primary industries. High quality and low production costs are the story as is the cost to ship product from China to the US and other global destinations. 2GoTools has already formed partnerships with several printing vendors based in China and is aggressively continuing to add more. The 2GoTools, Digital Print Aggregation Storefronts, are an ideal way to capitalize on the booming printing capabilities in China and all across Asia.

The following is an excerpt from an article on China’s growing printing industry:

“China has been experiencing a stable development even in the recent global economic downturn and is believed to be the first to recover. One year after the Expo 2010 Shanghai China, the 4th All in Print China, China International Exhibition for All Printing Technology and Equipment, will be held at the Shanghai New International Expo Center from November 14 – 17, 2011. All in Print China 2011 intends to highlight the recovery of both China’s economy in general and the printing industry in particular.

With the theme “Synergy of Print and Digital Era”, All in Print China 2011 will be jointly organized by Messe Düsseldorf China Ltd., the Printing Technology Association of China and the China Academy of Printing Technology – with the support of Keyin Print Media. Due to the concurrently held 2011 Asia-Pacific Web Printing Image Exhibition and the China International Network Printing & Digital Printing Exhibition, the range of products on display at All in Print China 2011 will expand and attract more visitors from diverse industry sectors to the event. The trade fair will showcase the latest printing technologies such as planographic processes, letterpress printing, gravure, screen printing and inkjet on about 861,000 square feet of exhibit space. More than 100,000 visits are expected.

The Chinese government has implemented positive measures to ease the global financial crisis and is confident that economic revival and long-term stable development will be achieved. All in Print China 2011 will highlight the strategic importance of innovation, integration and communication in the printing sector. Offering a global platform for trade visitors with strong purchase authority from around the world, All in Print China 2011 will explore new channels for printing industry developments.”

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10% represents a large number. The 2009 decline in printing has turned the industry upside down in many ways. And the economic downturn coming just as the industry is beginning to adopt the newest technology and web based business models, e.g. print aggregation, will mean the printing industry will never be the same again. And that is a good thing. The printing industry needed to catch up with the 21st century, and without these extreme conditions, it might have gone on for five maybe ten years still firmly rooted in the 20th century.

The following is an excerpt from an article updating the U.S. government’s figures:

“Recently updated U.S. government figures show an ongoing decline in the U.S. printing industry at a year-over year rate that InfoTrends expects to come in at around -10% by year’s end. The table below shows U.S. government data dating back to January of 2007. The source of the data is the U.S. Census Bureau’s Manufacturers’ Shipments, Inventories, and Orders (M3) report. This is a monthly report with the most recent available data coming from August 2009.

Looking over the data from the past two shows that the U.S. printing industry posted a -4% decline from 2007 to 2008. So far in 2009, the industry has declined over -10% (comparing the January – August period in 2009 to the same period in 2008). In addition, comparing the 12 month period from August 2007 through July 2008 to the same period from Aug. 2008 through July 2009, there is a -8.8% decline. The average month-to-month decline in 2009 is around -1%. Assuming, as some economists have, that the recession ended in September, it is likely that there will be  slightly smaller month-to-month declines for the remaining months of 2009. Even with that assumption of slower decline, this would result in about a -10% decline for printing industry shipments in 2009.

The decline is not only being felt in printing industry shipments. The U.S. printing industry has also been experiencing a decline in the number of establishments, which was occurring at about a -2% rate over the past few years, even at a time when the U.S. economy was growing. This is due to ongoing industry consolidation driven by changes in information delivery. As the economy has eroded, it is safe to assume that the decline in the number of establishments will accelerate as well.”

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