The United Nations of Communications
Recently, as a guest of IDEAlliance, I attended the back-to-back seminars “Beyond Print: The Keys to Tablet Publishing” and “The Creative Workflow: How to Achieve the Best Color Result.” Both events, held at the Hearst Tower in New York City, were well managed and packed with information.
David Steinhardt, IDEAlliance’s President and CEO, along with his very professional team, provided fertile soil for planting, growing and harvesting the future of media convergence. The soil was the publication business, tablets are the seeds, and the harvest—future profits.
The main topic of “Beyond Print” was the future of the tablet. The diverse panel of presenters was knowledgeable, multi-talented and, much like tablets, interactive. Based on the panel discussions and the morning session alone, I would suggest to David that he change the name of his group from IDEAlliance to The United Nations of Communications, or UNC. Whether you like or dislike the United Nations (U.N.) is of no importance. It is the premise of the U.N. that works for communications.
Contained within David’s group is a body of intellectual thought, data and experience providing the link and proof to the theory that no media stands alone, at least not today or tomorrow—a theory that I fully support. I will say that this new world of UNC provides a nearly perfect converged marketing tool that has never before been seen.
If you are a follower of this blog, you know that I am a firm supporter of cooperation in media, of media, and for media, along with the the selection, use and integration of the same, hence my belief that media convergence is the future and a perfect—or near perfect—marketing tool. Th “Beyond Print” seminar proved this point time and time again.
As an example, what Sports Illustrated has done and will offer to please its media-converged readers is spectacular. Offering a multitude of products designed for readers—using, in part, HTML 5 as the compass for not repurposed, but redeveloped media—is one of the reasons publishing has recovered from the doldrums of the print/digital age. Through the use of media convergence, Hearst, Conde Nast, Time, and other giants have managed to beat the evil dragon of dying media. They are alive and getting better.
I, too, have been a strong and vocal supporter of the need for new information, and the consumer will no longer tolerate repurposed media, which is a the thing of the past. Think about yourself. Do you want the same data sent to you from a myriad of sources? Or, would you prefer to receive data that fits your lifestyle and lifecycle?
Like it or not, branded content is here to stay—and I like it. Not that you can’t access non-branded media—you can. It’s your choice, not that of the originator or distributor of the data.
Remember the fourth “C” in media convergence? The consumer—yes! That is you, and you are already a vested and voting member of the UNC. You have voted and continue to vote: “I WANT MY MEDIA THE WAY I WANT MY MEDIA AND I WANT IT NOW!”
Remember the advertising slogan, “Have it your way?” Well, forget about the burger. This trend toward convergence has entered the combined world of communications and marketing and will continue to “do it your way,” or better said, “HAVE IT YOUR WAY!”
Bob Kanell of Sports Illustrated discussed the media landscape and trends on the horizon for the current generation of tablets. In other words: media convergence. The panel, loaded with a diverse cross-section of talent, drove home the point that we are at the early stages of content consolidation, selected content, and online media expansions.
Everyone was clearly stunned to hear that National Geographic has more than 100,000 paid online subscribers. This raised the question: Which came first: the content or the subscribers?
I subscribe to the print edition of National Geographic. I love its images, content and nearly everything about the publication. So in my case, the switch to the digital version will happen soon.
My experience with other titles’ digital vs. print editions is in many ways positive on all fronts, with an A+ for image reproduction. I subscribe to Cruising World (CW) in both formats. And although the sailing images within the printed pages of CW are exceptional, those same images liven to a greater degree on the screen of my iPad 2. A limitation and a negative is spread or two-page advertising; broken/split images just don’t work for me. The need to present spread ads is addressed well by WIRED magazine, and this type of format needs to be adopted across the tablet landscape.
One of the elements I liked about printed magazines was the creative use of folds, inks and other techniques used to enhance the pages. My guess is that the tablet’s equivalent is the interaction offered. Yet, I miss the double-gate folds and center-spread images that—not only in composition but in scale—provided more eye candy. The panel did hint at a future of innovations. The rethinking of media and its use sounds exciting.
From the panel’s members and discussion tracks, I would say that publications are looking forward to a future of innovation on both the digital and print fronts, even perhaps a hybrid of these proven technologies.
A second panel discussed the role of an ad agency beyond tablets. Agencies need to change. Why? For one, content. The same creative ad on a printed page may not display as vividly or intensely in tablet format.
Consider screen formats and how they impact the data and information presented. Look to 4:3 and 10:9 formats, and keep in mind that more are coming. What roles will CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) play in the future? There will be a need to provide an ad that is not just resized or repurposed, but newly developed for the media and audience selected.
IDEAlliance set a new benchmark for publishing as well. NextPub, introduced by Dianne Kennedy, vice president of emerging technologies for IDEAlliance (aka The United Nations of Communications) is leading the movement. New media needs new standards. If anyone doubts that statement, look to SWOP, GRACoL, and other print-centric standards and examine what is replacing or supplementing these aging, but valid standards.
It was not enough to leave the world of publishing ablaze via this technology and trends event. David added more fuel to the media convergence fire during the second half of the show.
After a short lunch break, he introduced Don Hutcheson of Hutch Color. Don, using a 239 or 293-slide PowerPoint presentation (it was so much fun that the dazzling number of slides did not deflate the event), clearly conveyed his message. Color needs to be viewed as an integral part of the creative workflow and not as a by-product. On a correctly printed piece, color is special. It holds a defining and electric position that in nearly all instances enhances a story, ad or editorial by adding depth, interest, excitement and beauty.
On a tablet screen or mobile device, Don’s observations are drastically exaggerated, or as they say, “Color is now on steroids.” Don primarily focused on the print aspects of color, while explaining the need for calibration, RGB including creative color, printing variables, and the limitations of the process. He also offered the best explanation of the new G7 certification I have ever heard and accurately detailed the use of GRACoL and SWOP. Color is a signpost to the future of cross media and media convergence. Consistent brand color becomes critical across each new piece of media, and Don and his team have that goal under their microscope.
Was there a negative part of the day? Sure. There was a lack of interchange of the information being presented with the educational, design and creative communities. All these print standards are great, but there is a need to get the message out—a cross-media need to present the information to the bullpen of the industry.
The day invested was time well spent. I found the information provided throughout the seminars ahead of its time, and the overall event shed a bright light on the future of media and communications. Thank you, David Steinhardt and staff!
Thad Kubis is an unconventional storyteller, offering a confused marketplace a series of proven, valid, integrated marketing/communication solutions. He designs B2B or B2C experiential stories founded on Omni-Channel applications, featuring demographic/target audience relevance, integration, interaction, and performance analytics and program metrics.