Walking a Path to the Internet
John Kerr knows what publishers want and what advertisers need. As the president of Kerrwil Publications Ltd., Toronto, Kerr also understands the importance of capitalizing on the Internet to strengthen his print products' market share.
Kerwill publishes 10—monthly and bi-monthly—Canadian trade and consumer titles. And the publisher treasures a long-standing relationship with its printer, Web Offset Publications, Toronto. But this traditional relationship be-tween printer and print buyer transformed when Kerr began talking to Web Offset's technical guru, John Bacopulos.
"John and I talked at length about ways to create a Web environment that was good for both the publisher and the reader," Kerr recalls. "He knew there had to be a simpler way to navigate around a publisher's Web site. And he knew there was an opportunity there to use the Internet to marry print to the Web.
"So, I took some time and spoke with a lot of publishers and members of the American Bus-iness Press and the folks at the BPA. I listened to their ideas about how the Internet could enable more interaction between reader, publisher and advertiser," Kerr adds. "Then, John and his LinkPath team spent about three months visiting the Web sites of the major U.S. and Canadian publications to identify what was good and what was bad."
With Kerr's publishing acumen and Bacopulos' technological savvy, the pair went to work on designing the architecture for an Internet service we now know as LinkPath (www.linkpath.com).
The initial design called for a way to drive a consumer from an advertiser's print ad to the exact product-specific location on the Web site. Similarly, this type of solution would support a publisher's own efforts to drive editorial traffic to a Web site.
The question remained, however, what is the best technology to support these goals? Bacopulos first looked at scanning technologies, but suspected it may be implausible—and costly—to require consumers to purchase additional peripherals, or for publishers to supply them. "John looked at the scanning technologies early on, but decided against it because of the costs and limited install base," Kerr explains. "Unlike Digimarc's watermarking technology or some of the barcode readers, LinkPath wouldn't require the reader or the publisher to buy additional hardware or software. A Web browser is all that's needed."