The impact of the Internet on print – the digital flood

The first results of the ‘drupa Global Insights’ report on ‘The Impact of the Internet on Print – The digital flood’ are now out. They illustrate how many internet-enabled tools such as webto- print, variable data printing, interactive print such as augmented reality, QR codes and smart technologies such as printed electronics, will impact on most areas of the printing industry. A brief.

Print service providers and the supplier industry on the one hand and their customers on the other are being compelled to deal with new challenges and opportunities. Werner M Dornscheidt, president and CEO of Messe Düsseldorf, underlines the relevance of the drupa study on ‘The Impact of the Internet on Print – The digital flood’: “With its detailed analysis of the global markets and the overview of current trends, the ‘drupa Global Insights’ report is an important contribution to strategic decisions that need to be taken by printers and suppliers alike.” In spring 2014, about 1,100 international key executives from the printing industry took part in the on-line survey and many participants provided very informative examples from their business environment.

The rise and rise of e-commerce E-commerce is growing in most global regions at rapid rates and printers are having to play catch-up, for whilst 51 percent of the survey panel had web-toprint services, only 14 percent reported it transacted more than 25 percent of their orders. Nevertheless in the catalogue market, publishers understand that print catalogues drive on-line sales and a majority of 60 percent of catalogue printers reported growth in on-demand digital production.

The shift to mass customisation Whether it is photo books, calendars, stationery, marketing articles or T-shirts, in small or large volumes – the customised large-scale production of digital print articles is catching on. Already, 72 percent of all questioned commercial printers worldwide offer variable data printing services; in the US its proportion is even higher (87 percent). While the proportion of variable pages remains small, 56 percent of participants reported moderate or fast growth. Increasing numbers of commercial printers offer a wide range of print products that can be both sold on the web and personalised. These trends are confirmed by the ‘drupa Global Trends’ report published in spring 2014: 38 percent of commercial printers and 32 percent of publishing printers expressed their intention to invest in digital electro-photographic colour sheet printers.

Interactive printing on the increase in the publishing and packaging segment

Interactivity is the watchword as print customers are realising the power of communicating via the internet and mobile technologies directly with their target audiences on a one-to-one basis. Cross-media campaigns, with data acquisition/analysis and the use of several channels (e.g. PURLs, Email, SMS), are increasingly demanded by customers.

The range of applied technologies includes QR codes, other smart-print options, augmented reality and near-field communication. One third of the drupa panel of experts already offers interactive print of one form or another, i.e. interactive response elements in publications, business communications, advertisements, packaging and outdoor advertisements.

As expected, there are major regional differences: in the US 44 percent of printing companies which took part in the survey offer interactive printing, but only three percent of providers in the Middle East. A substantial proportion of drupa panel members from the packaging sector also use internet-based tools, 50 percent use QR codes, 43 percent use variable content, and 41 percent of all packaging printers that took part in the survey offer personalised print.

The survey also dealt with many other issues such as CRM, Digital Asset Management and ‘Big Data’, as well as the automation of workflows, and the need for companies to have better IT skills. It investigated how the increasing digitisation of communications is affecting the demand for conventional print and the demand for different print substrates (paper, board, film, metal or glass)? The ‘drupa Global Insights’ report concludes that printers need to accept the reality of an internetdriven multi-channel digital future, change their approach and invest accordingly.

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