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Thaddeus B. Kubis

Converging Technologies and Print

By Thaddeus B. Kubis

About Thaddeus B.

Thad has developed The Institute For Media Convergence (www.tifmc.org), into a leading Media Convergence research group and NAK Integrated Marketing Inc., (www.nakinc.com) an internationally known, integrated marketing resource utilizing emerging technologies linked to print.
 

It Was a Good Week for Print

 
Yes, last week started off really well if you’re a printhead like me.

It all began, like so many stories do, with an e-mail notice from one of the 16 newsletter sites that I monitor. The link caught my attention—“highlights, four key points, drives magazines”—and the added term of “circulation” in the headline forced my finger to send the cursor over and click on the link. 

The importance of this article (“Hearst’s John Loughlin Highlights Four Key Drivers for Magazines at DMA Circ Marketing Day”) was strengthened since I am participating on a panel at America East, which is considered the largest regional conference for the newspaper industry and its suppliers. So you can understand why the term “circulation” hit home.

The above link is to a story quoting John P. Loughlin, EVP and general manager of Hearst Magazines. Now I don’t know John, but I hope I will get to know him because he made my day—not in the Dirty Harry sense of course, but in a more positive way.

Loughlin called attention to four drivers vital for magazine companies to focus on: traditional direct marketing techniques; tablets and other technologies; databases and data mining; and e-commerce. He also closed the debate on “print vs. digital,” noting for magazine publishing, “The only way it works is to embrace the possibility of ‘and.’” The “and” signifying a digital and print co-existence, as opposed to the digital only vs. print only mentality.

I added the bold face to the direct mail line, but direct mail is print and that to me is a very good thing. I had read that a number of newspapers and magazines have seen an increase in subscriptions via personalized direct mail programs, perhaps the most recent being the Arkansas Democrat-Gazzette, which brings customers back using personalized direct mail. That was not the direct mail job I was referring to.

Loughlin was saying that magazines can no longer expect 70 to 80 percent of their income to come from advertisements being placed. He stated that the four dynamics listed would drive the future, and I agree.

But this was different, Loughlin was using some key words such as database, data mining and e-commerce, all topics that I have included in my “Print is Not Dead” presentation. For years I have felt that publications, newspapers and magazines needed to engage the customer by offering as many exit ramps from the communication highway as they had offered entrance ramps. Bingo cards—if you have not heard—are long gone, well in most cases.

For the past three or four years, I have been a very vocal proponent of getting rid of the “vs.” in print vs. digital and change it to “and.” In fact, I stated that very point in a blog on PIworld just a few weeks back, here is what I said:

“If you have never read the 1995 book ‘Being Digital’ by Nicholas Negroponte, you should. This book details what some have described as the first shot across the bow in the battle to win market share between the old world of print and the new world of digital media.

“I see—and have always seen—the book as diplomatic document of peaceful coexistence and cooperation between what Mr. Negroponte calls Atoms and Bits. In short, items that are made up of atoms—take paper, for example—are old; things that are made up of digits—such as e-mails—are new. (My confusion is that I always thought that everything was made of atoms, a small but unimportant point.)

“Peaceful coexistence you say? Yes in fact this cooperation could be called Bitoms or Atots, (forgive me Mr. Negroponte) since recent trends and data indicate that to get the best of any delivery program, you need to link atoms and bits into an integrated, combined force.”

In my excitement, I sent a letter to John and told him that I felt vindicated in part since a real “Captain of Industry, a true print personality” was on my side.

Yes, print had a very good start to the week.

Just when I was thinking that my week was over, additional good news came across my desk. I clicked on the latest link from The Print Council and the lead story states, “Consumers most prefer print for advertisements.” This AdAge/Ipsos Observer study indicated that most U.S. consumers like ads appearing in newspapers and magazine more then any other source.

They say good things come in threes, and last week was no different. On Friday, just before I began writing this blog, a third and very impressive article—titled “Print Stages Comeback”—is contained in the actual printed March 2011 issue of Direct Marketing News. The article is also available on line.

Although not as direct as my new friend John, this article provides positive results and insight into the process and tools used, and that atoms and bits/print and digital actually work together. When used correctly, they work in a very powerful way. The subhead even uses the word creativity; some consider that to be a word that cannot be mentioned when speaking of marketing.

I will be the first to say I told you so, and be the first to say that print is not dead, but I will also say that print and printers have a long way to go before—if ever—we can again say print is back!

All in all, I think that these three acts of faith that crossed my desktop and my desk are all part of what I call the move to customer-centric communications. Read John’s article, look through the Print in the Mix site, check out the Direct Marketing News article and I am sure you will agree, it was a good week for print.

Now, where is that lottery ticket I bought on Monday?

Want to get some more great news yourself? Contact me and we can look for good news together: thad@nakinc.com or (917) 597-1891.
 

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