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Newspapers: Digital Print Solutions Provide Revenue Opportunities

Digital print solutions are giving print service providers (PSPs) the opportunity to help newspaper publishers increase readership and revenue, while decreasing costs.

Newspapers have under a lot of pressure for the last several years, notes Bryan Yeager, Associate Director of InfoTrends. “Papers under the most pressure are the metro or small town dailies, especially the ones that own their printing equipment. They are pretty challenged from all sides, with both their circulation and print ads declining.”

On the other hand, notes Yeager, community and weekly newspapers, like Pennysavers, are in a better position and are more sustainable long term. “They have stronger relationships with the community and advertisers, and they are not as costly to produce.” 

And while metro dailies, like The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, are looking to pump up the revenues from their online subscriptions, adding paywalls, it’s still print ads that drive the revenue. 

“We find similar things in magazines; people are drawn to ads in print,” adds Doug Sexton, global publishing market development for HP Inkjet High-speed Production Solutions.

“Newspapers are still a $200 billion industry worldwide, with 15,000 paid titles, which doesn’t include the number of free papers,” says Sexton. “There is still enormous market penetration—over half of the world’s population reads a newspaper. Globally, the number of paid newspaper titles is increasing. What is happening in the U.S. and Europe is not reflective of what is happening worldwide, especially in emerging markets, where newspapers are seen as a status symbol.”

Newspapers also have some other advantages over online or mobile delivery methods: their readers tend to more affluent (of course, they are also older, which may have something to do with it), and consumers of all stripes still look to Sunday coupons for savings.

For the opportunity to help publishers increase readership and revenue and decrease costs, says Will Mansfield worldwide marketing director for inkjet printing solutions, Eastman Kodak Co. “This is not a ‘field of dreams’ scenario, where if you build it they will come, but requires a real purposeful approach and in-depth conversations with the publishers to discuss their main issues, main pain points, etc. The technology is there, but printers have to insure that the business model works, so the printer gets a ROI in three to five years.”

One such opportunity, says Will, is helping the publisher implement color where it wasn’t used before or it was used sparingly, a possibility now with the “new breed of high speed inkjet systems that can produce color pages cost effectively in small quantities,” says Mansfield. 

Geocoding Drives Opportunity

Another way newspapers can increase revenue, says Mansfield, is through the creation of more targeted inserts with geocoding, made cost-effective because of inkjet heads that replace the black plate. More targeted inserts open up advertising for smaller stores and companies to become engaged in using newspaper as the delivery method of targeted marketing message.

One of the things that is driving change in the marketplace and driving opportunity digitally is globalization. “There is a lot of opportunity in decentralized production; globalization and fragmentation play well into digital printing realm,” says HP’s Sexton.  

Newspapers, such as The Financial Times, are printing ex-pat editions at remote sites using a HP high-speed inkjet web press. In October, The Financial Times expanded into the Latin America market with the launch of a digital newspaper print site in São Paulo; the paper is available for sale in São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, and Brasilia.

Kodak, too, is finding success abroad. Same-day editions of Le Monde are distributed electronically and then printed in tabloid form, a few hundred copies in major cities.

“Commercial printers team up with companies who distribute the paper,” explains Mansfield. “They are using the same equipment to print the newspapers on the graveyard shift.”

Implementing a gaming or sweepstakes contest into the newspaper, another revenue driver, is also made possible by adding an inkjet head to the press or on the finishing line. Consumers are enticed to purchase the paper because they have a chance of winning with every newspaper buy; in effect, the newspaper becomes its own lottery ticket. 

Publishers are able to more for ad space on the pages that run opposite where the game is located. Kodak’s Prosper S-Series Imprinting systems allow inline digital printing on an offset press, allowing printers to incorporate variable data while running at full press speed.  “Data shows increased circulation as well as ad sales for publishers that make this change,” says Mansfield.

In Germany, Axel Springer, which owns the newspaper Bild Zeitung and also contract prints other newspapers at sites around the country, runs a Kodak Prosper S30 mounted on a man roland Colorman web press. It uses the S30—which runs at press speed—to print variable lottery numbers, variable QR codes and changing artwork across the web.

“What we are finding is that everyone buying these digital presses and doing newspaper production are also doing other things,” says Sexton. “The quality differentiation is a big deal; with our digital presses printers are able to not just newspapers but also marketing brochures and targeted inserts that make it relevant to that particular region.”

In northern Italy, Centro Stampa Quotidiani Spa (CSQ), is using an HP T230 color inkjet web press to print newspapers and regionalized inserts, as well as foreign newspapers, which it only prints during the summer tourist months. The printer will also be able to insert information for a specific city or area, or produce variable editions of a property newspaper based on local distribution requirements.

“We’ve been looking at this market for many years, in fact, we looked at digital printing first for newspaper printing,” says Sexton. “They are pretty straightforward for us to print. The papers themselves tend to be thin and lightweight and the classic inkjet that uses dye-based inks couldn’t get good color saturation and the show through was too much. We have this bonding agent that traps the pigment of the surface, so the ink doesn’t penetrate into the surface and the end result looks look offset."