BoSacks Readers Speak Out: On Defending Print the Right Way

By  on August 31, 2013

BoSacks Speaks Out: Defending Print the Right Way

Hello Bob,  I wanted to send you a brief note regarding your AR article:

AR is a technology that obviously has some very effective applications in the print world, however I agree with your caution expecting it to be the savior of print. Like most all medications, very effective when administered at the right time for the right ailment but no one medication cures all!

(Submitted by an Industry Consultant)


BoSacks Speaks Out: Defending Print the Right Way

Hi Bo.  I completely agree and if my memory is correct this was one of our conversations when we first met. 


One minor distinction that may be worth noting is that a large portion of the printed word appears on packages (rather than publications), where AR, QR or new platforms such as Touchcode may have a bit more utility.  Best Regards and I look forward to seeing you in October.

(Submitted by a senior manager of an Industry Supplier)



BoSacks Speaks Out: Defending Print the Right Way

I agree with your point about the limitations of AR. It feeds into a larger belief I carry around that print absolutely can survive as a standalone medium. 


It needs to improve measurability for advertisers and publishers, but that doesn't automatically mean AR is the way to go. If I could bend the ear of execs at traditional print publications, I'd ask them how their legacy print products are evolving to accommodate digital, social and mobile-minded behaviors and expectations. My sense is that traditional publishers are trying to adapt their digital, mobile and social strategies to the legacy print product, perhaps largely because it remains the cash engine. I'd encourage precisely the opposite approach. In other words, how should print evolve to support digital products? 


As long as print is seen as the lead, I expect we'll continue to see bad decisions on design, content management, monetization, and distribution of digital products. Companies that start as digital entities and expand to print, conversely, will learn how to imagine print as a complementary business, which strikes me as precisely the right framing.

(Submitted by an industry digital supplier)


BoSacks Speaks Out: Defending Print the Right Way

Hi Bo, thanks for your regular and very insightful meanderings!


On one level you are absolutely right in questioning AR as being the savior of print; for all the reasons you state. However, we must not confuse the overhyped embryonic technology with the potential benefits that true interaction between the printed page and the internet can bring.


A horrible but descriptive term, 'magalogue', has emerged to describe the integration of magazine and internet catalogue content with all the advantages that each can bring. On one hand this brings all the positive advantages of a fantastic immersive magazine experience but adds the opportunity for greater reader interaction by facilitating the purchase of the goods and services which are being written about. See the dress, buy it! Want the holiday, book it! Perhaps you have seen the video attached?


With this technology magazine publishers can become retailers; Advertisers can more easily measure the ROI of their investments; Readers can indulge their buying cravings immediately!


I believe this is the way forward but what are the barriers? Multiple software platforms looking for dominance; Layer, Blippar, Aurasma etc., and the current need to add apps to your mobile in order to immediately make your purchase. However, if these technicalities are resolved, and common platforms found, then I believe AR will play a vital part of print's future.

(Submitted by a Paper Person)


BoSacks Speaks Out: Defending Print the Right Way 

Eventually our devices will be very much smart little robots. We'll be able to train them to read (watch) the pages along with us. Some developers are teaching smartphones to "see" - a combination of recognize an image and understand. For example they'll recognize an image of a watch; note the colors, any logos, etc; then to an internet image search to confirm; check for any parameters of interest we may have (in settings, or by observed behavior trends like what the Zite app does); then recommend or have info ready.

Anyway, I think publishers could do a lot with a simple mobile webpage for each issue - like a digital reader service card. Maybe they don't really want to know how much response there is or isn't?

(Submitted by a Publisher) 



BoSacks Speaks Out: Defending Print the Right Way

I think you are right on with this article. The biggest issue is the App itself, until the scanning capabilities come with the phone and not as downloaded App, AR will always have a huge barrier, just like QR codes. Also true is the fact that it takes you away from the magazine, which doesn't seem to benefit the reader, but distract instead. However I look forward to more advances in AR, because some of the tools are too cool to ignore!

(Submitted by a Direct Mail Executive)


BoSacks Speaks Out: Defending Print the Right Way

Print will be saved by print and the correct and profitable use of new print as a tool for brand and marketing integration.

(Submitted by a writer and Blogger of Note)


BoSacks Speaks Out: Defending Print the Right Way

Outstanding and thoughtful article. I agree with you, as good as AR can be, and useful too, in the right conditions, it is a distraction to the printed product of a magazine. Where it should be used and is hardly ever visible is in point of sale situations. When consumers are in the store and the cell phone is out and in hand already with price comparison shopping. That is the right time for 2D codes to be ever present. It could MAKE the sale. All print packaging should be loaded with AR, and magazines less so. 

(Submitted by a Publisher) 



BoSacks Speaks Out: Defending Print the Right Way

Great post about the merits and limitations of AR. Simply but elegantly put: Print will survive because it does things that a web based product can't do. Until that changes, we continue to serve our loyal print readers without expecting that tools like QR codes will wean them off of print. We aim to maintain the quality of the 'user experience' of print, while And enriching the digital experience includes introducing tools that mirror the beloved print 'experience' such as writing notes in margins or clipping articles.

Submitted by Lynda Hammes Publisher - Foreign Affairs


BoSacks Speaks Out: Defending Print the Right Way

Hi Bob - One quote from your article struck me as absolute truth:


Most of the trauma is from failing newspapers and magazines who can't supply the reader with the kind of 21st century content that they need, desire and are willing to pay for.


The celebrity magazines boomed from the mid 90s until about 4 years ago because they were the best format for providing the audience with the news they wanted.  Then the warp speed development of digital platforms provided even more of that data before the celebrity weeklies could summarize it an the end of the seven day period.  When magazines find the formulae for providing information and entertainment in unique fashions they other platforms cannot do as well, they'll prosper again, at least until media formats change again, which of course they will, and even faster than they did the last time.

(Submitted by a Newsstand Consultant)



BoSacks Speaks Out: Defending Print the Right Way

"Confession: Though I have been hep to QR codes since their dawn, and have even written about the plausible perks--and despite that I myself am "in media"--I have yet to leverage a QR prompt."

(Submitted by a writer)


BoSacks Speaks Out: Defending Print the Right Way

You make good points here, but I think some key elements are missing:   Like print itself, well executed interactive print is "opt in" at the behest of the reader, and additive to the overall experience.  When properly produced, interactive is the missing link in the chain that connects print to mobile, and response can be measured, tracked, and correctly valued.  Also - there are major players offering universal apps that eliminate the extra effort you mention.

(Submitted by a Senior Manager - Printer)


BoSacks Speaks Out: Defending Print the Right Way

Hi Bob, A couple interesting survey points below - from last year, old by now. It's likely higher today. I think people instinctively want to respond to and capture the value of print using small-screen mobile - like tearing out a page. They'd love to collect coupons, tap-through for an ad, buy from a catalog... all with their smartphone.


· 46% of Smartphone users who use mobile search prompted by a print magazine ad. (Ipsos / Google Study - February 2012)


·  37% of Mobile device owners who have engaged in mobile-commerce. (Direct Marketing News - April 2012)


 This is just inherent growth of the assistant factor of smartphones. It is tablets that are very much "lean back" and can lure people away from print permanently. They are very page-like in size. Tablets have the very engaging physical hold, swipe and tap experience. They even greatly raise the bar with interactivity and tapping through to additional information. So, in essence, smartphones should be a companion to print. Tablets are the competition. Just think about tablets when someone rolls out a beautiful full-color reflective display? Video might look a little wired on a paper-like display, but it'll work.


No one has yet figured out the best user interface for this print/smartphone companion experience. The universal translator certainly would be nice. I wonder if it'll be voice recognition - "look up the Ford ad in Businessweek"? But, this doesn't necessarily get the advertiser the exact response or landing page they might want. You'd think SMS codes would be easy. But, I think they're used less them QR.

(Submitted by a Printer)



BoSacks Speaks Out: Defending Print the Right Way

Bo, we have known each other since I first called on you at High Times magazine in the late 1970s. You have always had the ability to distill a complex problem into easy to understand solutions. I saw you solve many a manufacturing crisis with ease and style somehow getting everyone in the plant to understand and back your always logical solutions.


You continue to amaze me by presenting to the industry the same logical and simple ideas and solutions that we all need to face and understand. Your handling of the AR issue I thought was brilliant and as always presented in a non-complex style.   I took particular delight in the phrasing "Print will survive because it does things that a web based product can't do.  With a printed magazine you enter the single minded world of non-distraction as the editor intended you to. When it comes to magazines the engagement factor for print is exactly that."

Many thanks for decades of fun and industry dialog. 

August 31, 2013
Categories:  Readers Speak Out

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