Magazine publishers, including associations, need to dramatically shift their focus to adjust to the "hard facts of the print-communications marketplace," speakers on Monday at a Quebecor World seminar on association-magazine printing agreed.
David Steinhardt, CEO of the influential IdeAlliance, the association for print-media production, told about 80 attendees during a luncheon speech that print needs to be more integrated and cross-platform oriented than it is today, and that the way to do that is through the adoption of "free and open standards" for content production. The conference was held in Bethesda, Maryland.
The challenge, Steinhardt said, is that today’s proposed and actual standards;computer languages that automate such processes as insertion orders, archiving, printing instructions, mail data, paper buying and many more;represent a "Tower of Babel." As he spoke, Steinhardt’s presentation showed a slide with at least 18 different standards, with acronyms like GRACoL, ADIS, DISC, DIM2, PROSE/XML, EMBARC, CIP4, ICE, AdsML, Mail.dat, NARI and more.
But if standards are to be effective in positioning print magazines for a multimedia world, they can’t be about computer-to-computer information, Steinhardt said. "It’s about business processes moving from partner to partner, so they can reduce cycle time," he said. "The industry needs a through-line on moving content."
What’s happening in media makes adoption of standards urgent, Steinhardt said. If print media;magazine companies, including association titles;are to remain competitive, they need to consider the emerging consumer-driven world of media. With 16 million iPods sold, 72 million PayPal accounts, $117 billion in online retail sales and the new "screen"-based media of console games, wireless phones, video on demand and more, "that’s the competition we are up against," Steinhardt said. "This is a big challenge. A big challenge. Standards and specifications are a big part of that.
Going forward, he said, publishers need to have liquid content and immediacy; they need better connectivity with all of their manufacturing and distribution partners; and they need to provide accountability to media buyers. What’s more, they need to think globally, develop a more integrated digital-enterprise infrastructure, managing a rapidly changing United States Postal Service and compete not with other print media but with other media.
In a morning keynote speech, Joe Webb, a print-industry consultant, described a "painful transition" for the printing industry, which was caught by surprise by new media. Communications dollars are shifting from print to online and events, Webb said, and it’s a trend that is likely to increase: Consumers, he said, citing a study, spend 30 percent of their media time online, but only 5 percent of advertising spending is online.