In 2013, the print industry as a whole seems to have found its niche. While plenty of publications have folded and providers have consolidated, there’s no longer talk of print being a thing of the past.
It seems that this year, print and digital media found new ways to live comfortably together, with each platform doing what it does best. Digital publications can link to and embed interactive content. Meanwhile, print collateral offers a personalized, tactile, and memorable experience.
So what’s in store for print in the coming year?
The last few years have been a survival of the fittest for print shops. Now, survivors are getting stronger by tacking value-added services on to their line-ups.
What does that mean? In a word: Implementation. We’ll see some shops moving from being printers only to being marketing service providers (MSPs). They may start adding capabilities like more personalized printing and mailing, custom URLs in mailers, and better ways to track reader response.
But because many printers’ customers are in the marketing community, expanding into this territory can be a slippery slope. New services will have to be added slowly and thoughtfully if they’re going to succeed. And printers will need to take a good look at what they’re really capable of.
Earlier this year, Adobe announced that it would be moving its creative software, such as Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign, into the “Creative Cloud.” This means that rather than making a one-time purchase, you pay a monthly subscription fee for software access. This made some people frustrated, but hasn’t hurt Adobe much: they pulled in 1.4 million Creative Cloud subscribers in 2013.
The way Adobe sees it, this is the direction publishing is going. Having software in the cloud rather than chained to a single computer just makes sense. Microsoft is moving the same way with its Office 365 service. While these changes may not impact the print world right away, they’re sure to affect the way we approach the whole process of design and production.
Digital printing—and with it, personalization—was a huge breakthrough for the printing industry a few years ago. Now, it’s time to tighten up and automate. We’ll continue to see more ways to automate, particularly in web-to-print (ordering material over the internet).
We’ll also use more and more automation on the back end. Most people won’t see these changes—but they will get work out quicker, improve quality, and add more choices. And it will be less expensive—hopefully enough so that printers and marketers will start making a little money again. That’s a trend I’d be okay with.
We know that postal charges will increase. Soon, we’ll know just how much. The overall expected increase is 2.4%—but on December 22, the Postal Regulatory Commission will vote on whether to increase rates even further, beyond the rate of inflation. The Postal Service argues that the increase is needed to cover losses they suffered during the recession.
A sharp hike is likely to hurt magazines and other publications that are already paying millions in mailing costs per year. In any case, it will put more pressure than ever on marketers to get the maximum bang for their direct mailing bucks.
At Oregon, we’ll continue to help our clients find creative ways to reach out and get people’s attention with direct mail. We’re headed to PoDI’s AppForum in March and will attend PRINT 14 in Chicago in the fall. We look forward to seeing where the next industry wave will take us—and to sharing what we learn with all of you.
Is your print collateral ready to ring in the new year? Contact Oregon Printing Communications to get your print on the cutting edge.