Can Print and Digital Unite?

Digital media has replaced many things in our lives, from the office document to newspapers and magazines. However, in many ways, print isn’t being phased out — in fact, it’s as vital as ever. For marketers, print still represents many of the best ways to reach customers, enhance branding, and deliver messages. Not only does print work in avenues simply incapable of digital usage, the human brain digests printed information differently than content on digital displays. The smart answer, then, is to take the best of both worlds. Read my complete thoughts on why print still matters at the sfAMA blog.

 Three Questions with….

Ken McCormick, Owner of Visual Identity

Ken will be moderating the sfAMA Print and Digital Unite event panel on Tuesday, June 17. We had a chance to talk with McCormick and asked him three questions as he was preparing for the event.

Q) How is print doing in the digital age?

A) While commercial print revenues have declined the past 5 years mainly from the impact of digital media, total revenue is predicted to grow by 2.1% thru 2014 according to a study released by Freedonia Group analyzing the $70 billion US commercial print industry. Offset printing will continue to dominate yet lose market share to short run processes such as digital printing. China is predicted to surpass US market share by 2017 and total global print is estimated to increase $70 billion USD by 2017 according to research shared by the National Printing Equipment Association (NPES).

Mobile growth is creating more opportunities in print, specifically, as new technologies effectively engage users with push/pull digital space interaction. As digital channels become crowded some marketers are beginning to choose print as their front line of integrated campaigns.

A recent neuroscience study conducted by Millward Brown reveals that paper-based communications embed a deeper footprint in the brain than digital. Isolating differentiated responses from functional MRI brain scans, scientists claim the tactile printed material feels more real to the brain, triggering emotional reactions that internalize better memory recall.

Digital media platforms offer certain advantages over print including instant delivery, immediate response, and better controls. The future challenge for marketing professionals will be to balance the immediacy of digital with the permanency of print to create optimal results.

Q) What is the most exciting thing happening in print today that is using technology to help it be so exciting?

A) Combining the Image Recognition (IR) capability in print with Augmented Reality (AR) in digital is opening up exciting new ways for consumers to interact with brands. IKEA, Starbucks, McDonald’s, Absolut, Ford, BMW, Legos, Heinz, Nestle and more are effectively making their print come to life through interactive AR experiences. This innovative practice is not only promising but a testament to the longevity of print as a viable delivery medium in this new era of technological expansion.

Q) Is print dead?

A) Gutenberg’s discovery of movable type in 1436 revolutionized communication throughout Europe and eventually the world. Indeed much has changed in print since ancient clay and woodcut type but print’s tactile attributes remain unique as a timeless medium.

The feel of Letterpress characters debossed in soft cotton paper cannot be replicated on glass surfaces. Lenticular (holographic) printed images do not serve the same functional human interaction in digital form as they do inside Cracker Jack boxes. The physical properties of print are like no other medium and have sustained their place for nearly six centuries compared to the short life span of their digital media partners.

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By Marc Apple

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