In the magazine sector, a mobile innovation milestone was achieved this spring as Quad partnered with Wired to produce America’s first microchip-laden magazine advertisement, powered by near-field communication (NFC) technology. The April 2012 print issue featured an ad with an NFC tag that launched a mobile site when tapped by an NFC-enabled Android smartphone. Appearing in 500,000 subscriber copies, this marked the first time the fast-emerging chip technology has been used in an American magazine on a mass scale. “This is a landmark development in the continued redefinition of print and the ways print can be married to innovative technologies to drive greater reader engagement and response,” Quadracci notes.
Chris Pryor, executive director of Quad/Graphics Media Solutions, says applications of the new technology should ramp up quickly as more NFC-enabled smartphones come onto the market and as advertisers discover how to leverage the unique characteristics of NFC. “We now have the ability to help publishers and their advertisers create interactive and highly personalized campaigns that simply require a reader or recipient to place their smartphone on or near the ad to activate,” Pryor adds. “Other applications will involve having the reader take a NFC-enabled advertisement or promotion into a store or dealership, where NFC readers and point-of-sale terminals can activate personalized discounts and other offers.”
Plum of an Idea
A year older than Quad/Graphics, Valassis Communications, with headquarters in Livonia, MI, is a media and marketing services company with 2011 sales of $2.2 billion and some 7,000 “associates” in 28 states and eight countries. Valassis offers unparalleled reach and scale to more than 15,000 advertisers. Its RedPlum newspaper advertising brand delivers value on a weekly basis to more than 100 million shoppers across a multi-media platform—in-home, in-store, and in-motion. Through its digital offering, including redplum.com and save.com, consumers can find compelling national and local deals online.
Earlier this summer, the firm enhanced its digital display network (the Valassis Audience Network) with the acquisition of Brand.net, an online display, video, and mobile advertising platform. With Brand.net, Valassis now enables advertisers to reach and influence consumers on their journey from awareness to action with greater relevance, impact, and results, the company said. Combined with its Audience Network, the components of an expansive network of online and offline data, state-of-the-art ad serving and targeting technology, all come together. “Re-Imagining Reach,” as Valassis calls it, reaches today’s diverse consumers at a scale and accuracy unmatched by others, getting the right message to the right consumer in the right medium at the right time.
“The traditional path to purchase was linear and brought the consumer from awareness to action one step at a time,” points out CEO Rob Mason. “Today, consumers are in control and their media habits are changing at a remarkable rate, which means that clients need to use a mix of media to stay both visible and relevant. That's where Valassis has a proprietary advantage—we deliver targeted print and digital solutions to engage consumers at every point along the path to purchase.”
Houston-based Consolidated Graphics (CGX) may be the king of print firm acquisitions. A big company comprised of a lot of smaller companies, CGX had sales last year of just over $1 billion. With 70 printing businesses strategically located across 27 states, in Toronto and Prague, and a presence in Asia, CGX says it offers an unmatched geographic footprint, unsurpassed capabilities, and unparalleled levels of convenience, efficiency, and service. With locations in or near virtually every major US market, CGX provides service and responsiveness of a local printer enhanced by the economic, geographic, and technological advantages of a large national organization. Consolidated Graphics' vast and technologically advanced sheetfed and web printing capabilities are complemented by the world’s largest integrated digital footprint.
This spring, CGX began partnering with Blurb, the creative publishing and marketing platform, to deliver an integrated print-on-demand workflow using an InDesign plug-in. Using the Publish design-to-print workflow powered by Blurb, CGX customers can design and print high-quality runs of one unit and up, for projects requiring immediate delivery.