The future of print and paper discussed at FIPP Congress

A panel of experts at the FIPP Congress in Rome, today brought to the audience the possibility of print innovation coupled with digital technology. Jyrki Ovaska, president of paper business group, UPM, Finland (pictured) believes that the future of print is indeed strong but facing some challenges. The future is strong because of the role it plays in peoples’ minds and that it is “deeply imbedded in our culture,” Ovaska said.

However, he added that print is challenged because of the transformation in media, “There are new ways that we all need to imitate,” he said. Ovaska explained that one of the driving forces in print media landscape is the convergence of digital networks and our seamless access to various forms of technology, which allows for great opportunities in innovation. Augmented reality and QR codes are the “link from print to digital.” This change in digital innovation is forcing publishers to change their business models to integrate digital innovation. However reasonable the transition to an all-digital company may seem, print still has value. It is evident that consumers trust in print as a form of media, as Ovaska wisely said, “Paper and print is a medium that cannot be hacked.”

Ben McGuire, sales manager of Emirates Printing Press, UAE, agreed with Ovaska, stating that “Print, paper, and platforms are the three muskateers.” Print and paper companies need to embrace and work with different platforms. One of the ways that companies, such as Emirates Printing Press, can embrace the change is to make something that consumers will be proud to hold. Forty years ago, McGuire was using a printing press that could print 8,000 sheets per hour. Today, he uses a printing press that prints 18,000 sheets per hour. This type of technological advancement makes print innovation possible. There may need to be smaller volumes printed, but there needs to be higher value given to the consumers.

Stephen Shaw, opportunities director at Blippar, UK, opened with a quote from musician Laurie Anderson: “Technology is the campfire around which we tell our stories,” highlighting that we need to look for new ways to interact with digital platforms. Blippar uses print media to bring digital innovations to life with interactive pages, editorial videos, access to apps, instant consumer polls, and engaging advertisements. Companies like Blippar can work with print companies to bring their editorial content to life in order to capture the attention of consumers, and remain on the forefront of digital innovation.

While Alexander Kahlmann, managing partner from Schickler Consulting Group in Germany, agreed with Ovaska, McGuire, and Shaw, and explained that most companies are still earning most of their profits through print media. Over the next three to five years, profits will continue to come primarily from print. However, the key challenge and opportunity is to try everything and anything digital and to experiment with the synergy between print and digital.

Digital innovation paired with the willingness to embrace budding technology will continue the growth of paper and print publishing. While print may be challenged, it is very clear that it is definitely not dead.

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