Is the Printing Industry Devolving or Evolving? – March 2013 M&A Activity
Is the printing industry devolving? A colleague of mine recently suggested, only half kidding, that given all the negative news that we often report and comment on, it might be more appropriate to change our tagline to “The Target Report - The deal log for the devolving printing, packaging, paper, and related industries."
Based on the deals over the past month, I must emphatically stick with my tagline, the “evolving” printing industry. Mobile-interactive services have come of age, and it’s the printers who are doing the buying and/or organically growing services that link printed images to smart phones, pads, and PC’s. Quad Graphics made a splash in the industry with its front cover position on industry trade magazine, Printing Impressions – not for its recent acquisition of Vertis, but rather for its aggressive positioning to offer augmented reality applications, linking printed images to electronic versions of the message and to other “user experiences.”
In a signature deal following right on the tails of Quad Graphics’ cover article, Brown Printing acquired Nellymoser, a Boston-based mobile marketing and technology company. According to Brown Printing’s press release, Nellymoser “deployed over 800 print-to-digital campaigns in 2012. Campaigns typically include one or more brand activation points such as invisible watermarks, images, NFC and QR codes that are placed in magazines, catalogs, or on product packaging. Consumers scan the printed material with their mobile smartphones, thereby activating additional interactive content or digital direct response mobile marketing.” Brown printing now offers these cutting edge services - that’s evolution!
Lexmark, the manufacturer of printing devices that helped fuel the “distribute-then-print” model, announced back-to-back transactions that continue its evolution (there’s that word again!) from a hardware manufacturer to content delivery solutions provider. In the first deal, the company acquired Twistage, a cloud-based digital asset management solution for video, audio and image content. In its second deal of the month, Lexmark acquired AccessVia. The company’s software delivers in-store signage content to big box retailers, which is then printed in the stores on local print devices, or printed centrally in print production centers, or displayed digitally on devices throughout the stores.