Partner Voices: How Magazine Publishers are Using Digital Printing to Enhance Products
Advances in digital printing are creating new opportunities for magazine publishers to take advantage of rich audience data to enable more customized and targeted print publications and marketing offerings. Powered by data, digital printing offers publishers the ability to affordably create new types of publication products and direct mail that incorporate highly targeted images and messages.
Additionally, digital printing can make print more competitive with online media. Before the Internet, printed magazines were a critical marketing venue for reaching specific audiences. But when digital media entered the scene, publishers now had the ability to track an audience and deliver messages based on specific behaviors. Initially, online media offered publishers advantages over print, but as the audience became more digitally savvy — learning to block online ads and unwanted emails — the effectiveness of online media declined.
Printed magazines are regaining cache with advertisers and are highly effective in influencing audience decisions, especially those that include content targeted to individuals and are integrated with online media.
New research from NAPCO Research, commissioned by the Specialty Graphic Imaging Association (SGIA), examines the digital printing landscape in the magazine publishing industry. The research found 69% of magazine publishers are using digital printing in some way, with a small percentage experimenting with advanced programs such as a “magazine-of-one,” and fully personalized ad sections. The research also found that organizations are uniting data and digital printing to engage customers with a variety of products including targeted short-run magazines, custom cover wraps and inserts, and personalization.
Targeted short-run magazines, which are customized to small audience segments, was the top use of digital printing. Innovations in high-speed inkjet digital printing are enabling publishers to affordably produce targeted, short run publications at the quality level customers expect. In addition, digital printing enables affordable production of shorter runs compared to offset printing, the method used to print most magazines because it is still cost efficient for print orders of 10,000 and even better for 100,000 or more.
Customized cover wraps and magazine inserts that include content targeting key, high-value audience segments might be considered an “old-school” magazine tactic, but the availability of data that can be mined to create precisely targeted mailing lists has breathed new life and sales growth into sponsored wraps.
Personalization — whether partial or through a complete custom advertising section — has also been made possible due to digital printing technology. Partial personalization, often referred to as variable data and imaging, is where a publication includes a reader’s name, photo or other personalized content on the cover or inside pages and the remaining content is the same for all recipients. In a fully personalized advertising section, all of the content would be based on the reader’s online behavior, such as purchase history or articles read.
Magazine publishers are investing in digital printing to accommodate a variety of important customer needs. According to survey respondents, the top responses centered on leveraging data to create personalized campaigns that strengthened audience engagement and increased the value of print products for their advertisers. Overall, the top three responses indicate that magazine publishers are looking for ways to innovate print and improve audience engagement, offer data-driven marketing campaigns to improve advertiser engagement and grow product revenue.
But it’s a lack of understanding about the ways in which digital printing can be used that holds publishers back from taking full advantage of its benefits. Sixty-eight percent of respondents admit to only an average/fair/poor understanding about the ways they can use digital printing. Moreover, key challenges magazine publishers say prevent them from using digital printing more are not seeing the ROI and not being able to identify the right programs with which to use digital printing. Education is a first step in making use of any new technology and magazine publishers have more work to do before fully understanding how digital printing can be used in their organizations.
Magazine publishers need to educate themselves about the benefits of digital printing and the opportunities it creates by talking to peers, print providers, and other experts, and by attending industry conferences. Publishers should talk with advertisers about their business objectives and suggest innovative programs that leverage data-driven digital printing programs that complement their online marketing efforts. And magazine publishers should be willing to experiment with new programs and inquire with their print providers about opportunities to dip their toe in the water and test out new capabilities around digital printing, data integration and automation.
For more information on how to overcome key challenges in this market, the steps some magazine publishers are taking to implement data-driven print and the future of digital printing, download the Research Report “How Magazine Publishers are Using Digital Printing to Enhance Print Products” (PDF).