Innovations for digital and print media

Combining technical innovations with quality content

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The focus in many of the lectures to be held on 8 and 9 October during IFRA World Publishing Expo and DCX Digital Content Expo in Messe Berlin will be on innovations for digital and print media. Whereas the spotlight on the stage will be first and foremost on new business models and corporate culture, the exhibition area will especially feature the latest product innovations of the suppliers.

To generate 40% of turnover through paid content, and therefore through readers – according to Juan Señor – is a suitable target for news media. In his keynote speech to be delivered on 9 October 2019, on the Conference Stage of the IFRA and DC dual exhibition event, the president of the Innovation Media Consulting Group will devote his remarks to his special area of expertise, i.e. innovation in the media business. Already in 2018, in a report on innovation published by the World Association of Newspapers and News Media WAN-IFRA, he called for a change in direction. “Don’t wait for the future when high numbers of online users generate sufficient income through advertising revenues. Instead, offer solid journalism that readers are willing to pay for – that is the innovative approach of the future,” says Señor.

According to this innovation expert, there will be no ‘magic solution’ of a technological nature. For this reason, in his opinion, publishers have no choice but to once again exercise their journalistic core competency and develop metrics that they can use to better get to know their users and their preferences. In his paper, he will present business models and business strategies that news media have already successfully applied. At the same time, he will call for a radical cultural change in organizations.

Cultural change in media organizations

Sonja Kretzschmar, head of the Institute of Journalism, Management and Media Faculty at the University of the Federal Armed Forces in Munich, in her paper on innovation strategy to be given on 8 October, recommends thinking holistically, beyond individual products. Of importance in her view are quality criteria in conjunction with a specific budget, e.g. how much time to invest in research or verifying the information. She has also recognized that corporate culture offers leverage for more innovation. Projects such as the introduction of new products or work processes are more likely to succeed if the personnel are included in the task of selection as well as the definition of targets for innovation.

The professor has observed that the challenges can differ greatly depending on the medium concerned. “Above all, it is regional and local daily newspapers that have to deal with a very clear change in their users as well as an organizational structure that reacts only very sluggishly towards innovations. It should be the job of the human resources people to promote a corporate culture in which personnel are receptive towards innovation.” According to Kretzschmar, this applies especially in relation to the use of new technology, such as automated text-generating programs that, under the heading of ‘robot journalism’, because personnel to fear for their jobs. Against this background, an important future task for the news media is also to offer personnel advanced training and thus help ensure their employability.

Combine latest technology with quality contents

Technical innovations, such as Artificial Intelligence, voice or Big Data, are playing an increasingly important role for all facets of media production and distribution. This development is reflected in the exhibition area of the two exhibitions where, alongside established industry leaders, many start-ups are represented with their latest solutions that are equally suitable for use by news media and corporate publishers. However, besides online media, print media can also do innovation – a fact demonstrated by the Print Innovation Award that will be presented for the second time in Berlin. On the Berlin Publishing Night on 8 October 2019, in the Tipi am Kanzleramt the winners in Gold, Silver and Bronze will be announced and honored.

2023 promises an interesting ride for print in India

Indian Printer and Publisher founded in 1979 is the oldest B2B trade publication in the multi-platform and multi-channel IPPGroup. While the print and packaging industries have been resilient in the past 33 months since the pandemic lockdown of 25 March 2020, the commercial printing and newspaper industries have yet to recover their pre-Covid trajectory.

The fragmented commercial printing industry faces substantial challenges as does the newspaper industry. While digital short-run printing and the signage industry seem to be recovering a bit faster, ultimately their growth will also be moderated by the progress of the overall economy. On the other hand book printing exports are doing well but they too face several supply-chain and logistics challenges.

The price of publication papers including newsprint has been high in the past year while availability is diminished by several mills shutting down their publication paper and newsprint machines in the past four years. Indian paper mills are also exporting many types of paper and have raised prices for Indian printers. To some extent, this has helped in the recovery of the digital printing industry with its on-demand short-run and low-wastage paradigm.

Ultimately digital print and other digital channels will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future. For instance, there is no alternative to a rise in textbook consumption but this segment will only reach normality in the next financial year beginning on 1 April 2023.

Thus while the new normal is a moving target and many commercial printers look to diversification, we believe that our target audiences may shift and change. Like them, we will also have to adapt with agility to keep up with their business and technical information needs.

Our 2023 media kit is ready, and it is the right time to take stock and reconnect with your potential markets and customers. Print is the glue for the growth of liberal education, new industry, and an emerging economy. We seek your participation in what promises to be an interesting ride.

– Naresh Khanna

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