Monthly Archives: February 2011

Digital as the Future of Mass Print One-to-One Print

Earlier, John Mehl touted the future of print as just another arrow in the quiver of today’s ad executive. I could not agree more, but digital printing is not being used to its fullest potential to enhance one-to-one marketing. There are a few advertisers and marketers leveraging the advantages that digital printing has to offer, but by and large no one has really pushed the boundaries.

Let’s take an academic magazine first. Rochester Institute of Technology’s student publication, Reporter magazine, used digital printing to enhance its circulation by creating 10,000 unique issues. Each issue had over 20 separate images compiled from more than1,000 student portraits, making each of the 10,000 issues unique. The issue was designed around two 16-page static signatures and printed on the Goss Sunday 2000 web press (housed on campus at the RIT Printing Applications Laboratory and used for laboratory print testing and research) with two digital 4-page signatures, one inserted as the cover and the other as the center signature. A combination of traditional web offset printing and digital printing from the Xerox iGen made this possible. The architecture that was designed to orchestrate the project was the biggest hurdle, but a combination of traditional variable data–printing software and a good database made the system a success. The issue had one of the highest circulations in the title’s history.

In October 2008, Esquire published a cover for its 75th anniversary issue using integrated electronic ink that incorporated flashing text and images in monochromatic form. Yes, this was a cool use of “digital” and static print, but for the subscribers who received the issue in the mail, it could have been so much more. Hearst Magazines already knows a lot about the subscriber: his age, address, maybe even income. That data could have been used to deliver more specific and targeted messages to each subscriber via a cover wrap with a die-cut section matching the e-ink portion of the static issue cover. Esquire could have taken it to another level and made four variations, each targeted to a specific subscriber demographic and with a corresponding personalized cover wrap.

Now, one must acknowledge that an academic setting can be more accepting of the risks of a project like the special issue of Reporter, but beyond the novelty, the project proved that personalizing a traditionally static product can increase circulation and sell more ads. Could a model be developed to execute this task on a weekly or monthly basis? Sure, given the right system and database behind it. With the proliferation of access to the Internet, the right hook could be cast to catch the right audience and make the model profitable.

Author: John Carew

Note: The author served as the production manager and project lead for Reporter magazine’s “Me” issue.


How to reinvent your brand?

The challenges of the past few years have influenced many brands to make changes themselves. Smart move, as avoiding the much-needed change because of fear or laziness, could add to brands’ disaster.

Of course, change is always a risk; but aren’t many other things we go through in our lives also considered a risk? Moving to another city, choosing a career, finding a partner…rebranding falls just about in the same category.

If you really want to change your brand, make sure that you have a concept and strategy behind it, not to mention a reason, which could fall under:

  • Your values have changed.
  • You have a crisis.
  • You are the leader but you look like the underdog.
  • You’re looking old, not classic.

There are few steps a company should follow when considering re-branding:

  • Ban “design by committee.”
  • Do smart research.
  • Test new designs against new positioning.
  • Make sure that your product is good.
  • Anticipate roadblocks that can derail the process and deal with them ahead of time.
  • Measure success by measuring brand relevance and sales.

For more detailed explanation refer to the link below.

Author: Marina Kaljaj

HP unveils the TouchPad

HP TouchPad shown in stacked card view and exhibition mode

Since the debut of the iPad, tech companies have been racing to make a valid competitor to the wildly successful Apple product.  We saw this with the Blackberry Play Book, the Motorola Xoom, and now we’re seeing HP’s shot with the release of the TouchPad.  So one would ask, what is it that HP can bring to the tablet market that could possibly compete with the iPad?

WebOS: A powerful touch screen-based operating system developed by Palm that released with the first version of the Palm Pre over two years ago.  Many say this is the reason that HP acquired Palm—just to buy the rights to the OS.  WebOS has a unique way of dealing with multitasking through the use of “cards” or small active windows of each open program.  The user can flick through the cards to switch between the different open programs, and when they are done, a card can be easily flicked off screen to quit.  WebOS 3.0, which will debut on the new HP/Palm devices, will add “stacking” to the cards—grouping similar cards together to help the user stay organized.

Notifications: WebOS has always had a better notification system than iOS devices, and it has been improved for webOS 3.0.  Letting users see the notifications on the lock screen (coined “exhibition mode”), as well as letting them flick through notifications until they find the one they want to act on.

Adobe Flash Player 10.1.2 Beta: The first tablet with Adobe Flash compatibility, a huge step up from iOS devices.

Touchstone Technology: Allowing wireless charging of any webOS device with an additional HP stand or charging unit and no third party add on.  There is no need to take off the case to let Touchstone go to work.  But going further than just charging, you can now share information from one webOS device to another by simply tapping them together.  Share a URL, receive a TXT or MMS, and even answer phone calls on a different webOS device through Touchstone connectivity.

Synergy: Consolidating and organizing multiple calendars and contacts from all your outlets.  Facebook, Linkedin, gmail, exchange, etc. Constantly updating and consolidating when data changes to make sure you have the most up-to-date information.

All in all, the HP touchpad seems to be a very well thought-out and functional device.  WebOS will be an excellent platform for tablet computing, because it focuses on touch interface and multitasking from the ground up!  The success of this device depends on how well HP can pull together its community of developers and publishers in order to establish a wide array of apps like the iOS devices.  Look for this to hit shelves by summer 2011!

Author: T. John Mehl

Vanguard Direct In the Top Ten Nationwide

Print Services and Distribution Association (PSDA) released their 2010 annual list of the top distributors in America. Vanguard Direct is ranked 8th nationwide. This puts us at the top in the Northeast and the New York City area.
In a sign that Vanguard Direct is leading the new direction of our industry, we are listed #2 in the Top Marketing Service Sellers and #2 in the Top Tech Service Sellers. With validated expertise in areas that can affect your bottom line, Vanguard Direct stands ready to Take Charge and provide solutions for you.
The Print Services & Distribution Association is an international organization of print distributors, trade printers and suppliers working together to ensure that end users receive the products and services they need to succeed. It is the mission of both Vanguard Direct and PSDA to stay ahead of relevant industry trends to better provide our members with the resources they need to thrive in
the changing marketplace.

What industry trends are you paying attention to to stay ahead of the
curve in 2011?

Google Art Project – Why fly to Paris when you can visit the Louvre from home?

Jonathan Jones wrote in his article Google Art Project: Almost as good as the real thing that “The Google Art Project offers a glorious and exhilarating answer: in this century, it seems, high art will be more accessible and more beautifully available to more people than ever before.”

The Google Art Project is what I’ll call an enhanced version of the “Street-view” on Google Maps. That is, it gives the viewer a virtual tour of what a person standing on a street would see. However, instead of neighborhood blocks, the Google Art Project allows viewers to observe actual art from the inside of museums.

At first glance this seems ingenious. Users now have the ability to view some of the most beautiful art in the world all from the comforts of their computer. Selected masterpieces can be viewed as macroscopic HD reproductions.  Or, more loosely translated as really, really close up and really, really high def. So close, in fact, that you’re able to see the individual brush strokes used by the artist himself.

I recognize that not all of us have the means to travel. 95% of us will never have the opportunity to see Cezanne’s Mont Sainte-Victoire or Picasso’s Guernica. And while that’s a tragedy in itself, will seeing these paintings via Google images satisfy that desire? Even if we can see them really, really closely? Is there more to art than just seeing it on your screen or is there something to be said by viewing the art live and in person?

Author: Eric Swenson

Is Print Dead? NO! Changing…YES!

If you are a part of the graphic communications industry or better yet, the printing industry, you probably hear daily that print is dying.  Year after year analysts predict that print is declining at such a rate that it will become extinct in our lifetime.  Coming from someone that grew up in the industry and is still heavily involved in it, I call their bluff.

Innovation of print over the last 30 years has been a game changer.  With mainstream adoption of digital print in the early 90’s, traditional printers had to change fast or face dwindling profits on shorter runs. You may think that this is bad news, but you, my friend, would be wrong.  Traditional printers who stood around and did nothing but tell their clients that digital print would never match up to the quality of offset, are most likely extinct or soon to be. The fact is, digital print is taking over, and we should embrace it.  It has opened up a can of worms in terms of making our messaging more effective. No longer are we shouting down an empty hallway with a catch-all phrase, rather, we are speaking to our peers in an educated manner with relevant information.

Today the happy marriage of traditional print, digital print, and digital media is the perfect trifecta to any ad execs quiver. This artillery is not going anywhere. The impact of a good cross-media campaign compared to a traditional mass mailing is astounding. It makes one think, why does anyone do it the old way?

So what is next? Do we have to change yet again? Yes, of course we do! This is assuming that we want to stay in business. It is imperative that everyone in the graphic communication industry stays abreast of the latest and greatest feats in technology.  If we fail as companies to teach your clients about the newest, most innovative and effective ways of communicating with their customers, we have wasted their time.  You may ask why, and that’s because if you don’t, someone else will!

I leave you with the next best thing in our industry, 3D printing, and no I am not talking about TV’s.  3D printing which started to take off in 2003 has become more highly published by main stream media this past year. Right now architects, engineers, and hobbyists are adopting this technology, but, I believe that there is a far broader reach of its capabilities. Being able to custom manufacture or prototype a tangible object, directly from a 3D file has already astounded many. This process, while not cheap, is only a fraction of the time and cost when comparing it to the traditional prototyping or custom manufacturing process. I encourage you to get out there and learn more about this, because I guarantee you, this will be the next piece of technology that sits on our desk next to your inkjet or laser printer!

Author: John Mehl

Can first time Super Bowl advertisers compete effectively?

Super Bowl ads usually resonate brands with broad appeal and long histories, to better connect with the large audiences that watch the game each year. This years Super Bowl XLV will include ads from brands that have been in the industry for over 125 years: Chevrolet, Coca-Cola, Mercedes-Benz, and Stella Artois.

That doesn’t mean that you should be afraid to promote your brand whether it is a startup or not. This year, Groupon–the seller of digital coupons that started in November 2008–will be holding a spot as well. They hope that this will help build awareness for the brand.

Exposing a brand is very important; the more exposure, the better. If you aspire to be one of these companies, don’t be afraid to give it a shot. What do you think – can first time advertisers compete effectively?

To learn more, click here.

Author: Marina Kaljaj and Eric Swenson