Newspapers and digital media will continue to exist side by side in the future. This was the conclusion drawn by the some 50 specialists from the international printing industry that ContiTech Elastomer Coatings invited to the printing blanket symposium in Northeim. One point of focus was the future of newspaper printing in the digital era with devices such as the iPad and other pioneering technologies. In the talks given by high-caliber guests and the lively discussions, everything revolved around the question: What prospects are available to modern newspaper production in light of the growing market shares held by digital media?
"Our conclusion is that newspapers will keep their place in the media world in the years to come. Newspaper printing companies will continue to be successful and to work economically if they embrace innovative ideas and new approaches," said Markus Gnass, head of the Metal Printing Blankets unit at ContiTech Elastomer Coatings, summing up the outcome of the event. In the participants' view, although electronic media are gaining ground worldwide and will displace a certain share of the market currently held by traditional printed products in the Western industrial nations, they will by no means completely supersede printed products in the coming years but rather complement them. "Publishers need to see themselves as service providers for their customers and not purely as information mediums. Only by offering their customers added value and exhausting all opportunities will they be able to maintain their share of the industry in the future. As a strong partner to the printing industry, we are actively supporting our customers," stressed Markus Gnass.
The presentations given by reputable speakers showcased the types of creative ideas that the industry can implement in response to this challenge.
Innovative products as strong brands
Manfred Werfel from the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) kicked off the event. His talk focused on innovative products in newspaper printing, and he presented a number of practical examples that have seen success, including the Brazilian daily newspaper Correio de Bahia, which reinvented itself with a complete redesign and employed unusual marketing campaigns to almost triple the paid circulation figures and its share of young readers within just three years. The Allgäuer Zeitung established a foothold as a local brand with campaigns under the name of Griaß di', which had a powerful impact on the market. The German daily newspaper has a well-designed online participatory portal for Griaß di', publishes a free monthly magazine of the same name, hosts events from Oktoberfest to Hüttengaudi under the brand name, and markets brand products ranging from baby socks and Seppelhüte (traditional Bavarian hats) to six-packs of beer with a matching mug under the label. Interesting technical solutions including formats such as half cover or flying page, open up or bottom down, or even super panoramas are another way for printing companies to reposition themselves in the market. Unusual advertising methods such as adhesive advertising posters or booklets with discount coupons are ideas that could respark interest among advertising customers and consumers alike. In his conclusion, Manfred Werfel argued that there is one thing that makes newspapers virtually unbeatable: You can take them with you wherever you go and read them anytime and anywhere in the world.