Author Archives: Pat Henry

Read It and Peep: Video Comes to Print, and Vice Versa

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Print and video may not seem to be the most natural of pairings, but mating the two media for promotional use has an interesting track record.

Magazine publishing broke ground here by adding miniaturized video screens to advertising inserts like the one that CBS and Pepsi ran in Entertainment Weekly to introduce the network’s 2009-2010 TV season. Opening the insert triggered playback of an introductory clip (with sound) on a very thin LCD panel. Readers—or were they at that point viewers?—then could touch five buttons on the insert to preview clips from upcoming shows.

EW and another TV producer, the CW Television Network, tried something similar in 2012, but with a technical twist. This time, the screen—part of what amounted to a cell phone embedded between two thick sheets of paper—displayed not only video but real-time Tweets from those following the promotion. Appearing in a very limited number of copies of an issue of EW, the experiment was the first time a live Twitter feed had appeared in a print ad.

The high cost of marrying electronics to magazine pages has limited the use of video in large-scale publishing applications. But, video has proved to be a good fit in other kinds of printed formats, and a number of providers now offer solutions that combine the visual dynamism of one with the high-touch familiarity of the other.

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“Through innovation, print doesn’t have to die. It can evolve.” That’s the credo of Edgar Davin, founder of bigDAWGS promotions, a company that specializes in adding electronic dimensions to widely used printed marketing pieces. Among its innovations is a video greeting card with a built-in webcam that lets the recipient take a selfie for the occasion. Near field communications (NFC) and USB storage are other electronic technologies that bigDAWGS has brought into the realm of everyday print.

UviaUs works with brands to create video-enhanced experiences that deepen the impact of direct mail and other printed collateral. For an entrepreneurial business program at George Mason University, it embedded a slim, palm-sized LCD viewer in a boxed mailing piece that presented an overview of the program’s curriculum. Accompanied by printed matter, the piece gave the school a distinctive and an effective promotional tool. Game and app developer ISO Interactive got a leave-behind package that replicated the look of its office with Lego pieces on one side of the printed box and an auto-playing video on the other.

Some of the video cards available from Cards in Motion can store up to two hours of video/audio playback, and their LCD screen sizes can be as large as 10″. They can be configured as greeting cards, sales training aids, virtual tours, product guides, and other items that add the “wow factor” of digital media to the time-tested marketing effectiveness of print and graphics.

TV in a Card makes what its company name denotes: television-quality presentations on flat screens embedded in brochures, point-of sale displays, children’s storybooks, and even business cards. The company claims to be the inventor of video in direct mail products and the producer of the world’s first piece of video direct mail—a TV in a Card announcing the opening of the Xerox headquarters in Dubai.

According to Vidioh, adding video to print can boost direct mail response rates by as much as 45% because 80% of people would rather watch videos than read text messages. It adds, however, that print engages minds and often is a better way to represent the image of a business than video alone. The “inescapable conclusion,” says Vidioh, is that they work best together in marketing pieces that can be mailed directly into the hands of the target audience.

With prices of electronic components continuing to decline and providers like the aforementioned getting cleverer at merging them with printed pieces, the niche should remain a fascinating one to keep an eye on—in more ways than one.

Industrial Digital Printing 2.0

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Reporting live from a pre-IPEX media briefing in Brussesls.

In this morning’s lead-off presentation, Oliver C. Mehler, CEO, Atlantic Zeiser, announced that what he called “Industrial Digital Printing 2.0 is here”—and that with the help of his company’s technology, printers actually will make money doing it.

Atlantic Zeiser specializes in high-resolution digital printing and coding on industrial products. Its customers produce materials that frequently need content changes. “We don’t care about the substrate,” said Mehler, as the printable surface could be anything: paper, carton stock, non-porous materials such as plastic or glass, or three-dimensional structures. The conditions in which the printing is done vary greatly as well.

Mehler said that IDP 2.0 isn’t out to replace offset and flexo. These methods will still be used for static content; Atlantic Zeiser supplies the technology for the addition of variable print at the late stage of manufacturing: inline marking, coding, serialization, and decoration. Variable data must be verified for accuracy on the production line, as the printing is being applied to the product.

Atlantic Zeiser offers a choice of 18 different digital printing engines, including the ultra-high-speed and -resolution Delta family. Its Omega family consists of UV-capable spot color engines. The Gamma line includes single-pass CMYK engines with resolutions up to 1060 dpi.

The newest addition is the AZ Delta family of single-pass spot color engines operating at speeds up to 300 fpm in print widths up to 205 mm at a native resolution of 600 dpi. Also announced was the AZ line of high-resolution digital inks, including UV inks curable by LED arrays. To complement these inks, Atlantic Zeiser offers the Smartcure UV LED curing module. The advantages of UV curing include “cold light” exposure that protects sensitive materials; and ozone-free operation.

Among the applications for Atlantic Zeiser’s inline printing systems are packaging and direct product imprinting. ROI should take place between two and 18 months, says the company, thanks to economies achieved by integrating the systems with existing production lines. Packagers and product manufacturers now can do their own variable imprinting without having to rely on outside services.

Mehler also talked about VDP enhancement for PDF workflows. At IPEX, the company will announce a solution that makes it possible to print with small, flexible, and secure data streams.

For customers preferring offline solutions, Atlantic Zeiser offers the DigiLine family of web-to-web and sheetfed digital printing units for coding and imprinting. There are two models for web printing, and four or sheetfed. Three models of the DigiLine single-product imprinting system are available. Mehler spoke of imprinting costs of “several cents per thousand” with these solutions.

“We can prove that this increases the operating profits of any industrial product manufacturer,” Mehler said.