Hyper-local Digital Printing Increases Relevance for Newspapers

Article by Manfred Werfel Deputy CEO WAN-IFRA Frankfurt, Germany:

Last autumn Hubert Pédurand invited me to visit the French digital newspaper printing plant “Digitaprint” in Avesnes-sur-Helpe. On 11 January 2017 we met in Paris and drove across the countryside to the small town, which is situated more than 200 km north of Paris and quite close to the Belgium border.

Hubert Pédurand is driving the French INIGraph project, a service for the printing industry, supported by UNIIC, the French national printing union, in partnership with the French Ministry of Industry (DGE).

What is special about the “Digitaprint” print plant and why is it worth visiting and exploring what they do? Founded in November 2015, Digitaprint markets digital printing services, with or without variable data, as well as associated printing, for newspapers and related ancillary products. This alone may not be very exciting.

But Jean Pierre de Kerraoul, President of the publishing company Sogemedia, says, “We are entering an exciting era of personalised print. As a news organisation we want to be at the forefront of content that is tailored and bespoke to our many audiences. This will also provide huge opportunities for our advertisers as we improve the relevance and price of ad space with the inclusion of micro-zoning of ads and content, as well as shorter runs and the introduction of variable editions related to neighbourhood news.”

Sogemedia specialises in local weekly newspapers and follows a clear strategy of hyper-local and personalised publishing. While other regional newspapers in the area are reducing their numbers of local editions to save costs in editorial, production and distribution, Sogemedia has chosen the exact opposite direction.

A recent example illustrates the strategy. Sogemedia took over a regional weekly that was published in a single edition with a circulation of 8,000 copies. They transformed the publication from one into 11 hyper-local editions.

 

This is not an exception but the rule of the business. For example, the weekly newspaper “L’Observateur” is not only offered in 4 geographical versions but on top the reader can choose from 4 different content packages:

  • Version 1 offers a standard package, including sports and general news pages.
  • Version 2 has no sports news, but includes topics like kitchen, horoscope, creative hobbies, games and general news.
  • Version 3 comes without general news, but with gardening, an arts section and sports pages.
  • Version 4 finally has no sports and no general news, but the special topics of versions 2 and 3 instead.

 

At the printing plant we talked to Chief Technical Officer, Gilles Mevel, who explained the concept of “variable content” (the slogan of Digitaprint is “the variable experience”) and personalisation in detail. He also walked us through the production facilities and demonstrated the technical process.

Localisation and personalisation are not only a service to the readers but attract new advertising as well. If there are two competing car dealers offering the same brand in 2 of 4 villages, a newspaper that covers all 4 villages with only one edition is not attractive as a marketing platform for each of them. But if you offer 4 local editions, one for each village, a car dealer would probably advertise in the edition of his region and maybe also in a region in which the competing dealer is not active. The same is true for the other car dealer. Instead of attracting none you can get both as advertising partners by hyper-local editions.

The advantages of the content packages for attracting targeted advertising of local shops and service companies are very obvious.

 Sogemedia can follow this targeting strategy because it uses the digital printing system of Digitaprint. The production system includes a Kodak Prosper 6000C inkjet press connected to a MEGTEC reel stand on the in-feed and a manroland FoldLine on the output side. RIMA equipment completes the digital production line. The system installation started in September 2015 with the press. In November 2015 the FoldLine was installed and in February the first copies with variable content were printed.

Five months ago variable content publishing started. Today they print 18 titles with 100 variations. 80 percent of the products are printed for the region and 20 percent for customers from outside. The product range includes weekly newspapers, magazines and catalogues (in preparation). 18 employees work in three shifts and produce weekly newspapers from Tuesday through Thursday, 90,000 copies per week with a page count between between 32 and 40.

With their inkjet production system they can handle paper grades from 45 up to 270 g/m2. The print resolution can be adjusted and ranges up to 600 x 900 dpi. When Gilles Mevel compares the inkjet process with conventional printing he says: “We are not printing, but ‘pixelising’ the paper.”

 

Here you can find many more photos of Digitamedia

The change from conventional to digital printing did not only require a technical transition but also changed production processes and required the adaptation of new skills and procedures. At Digitaprint they talk about the “Transmutation” of the company. Job descriptions changed and hierarchies were modified. Experienced pressmen had to accept re-training. The transmutation of structures could be managed without conflicts by the clear and intensive communication of needs and open and fair discussions with all people involved.

Gilles Mevel says: “Sure, being a pioneer in digital newspaper printing that produces its entire print run digitally also involves a bit of adventure. But we will prove that digital print opens up promising publishing and commercial outlooks on the shrinking print media market.”

Leading by example, China’s largest publisher invests in a zero-inventory future

Kodak recently hosted an Open House in Nanjing, China at the facilities of our long-time customer, Phoenix Publishing & Media Group. If you’ve never been to Nanjing, it’s an impressive place. With over 8 million people, it is the second largest commercial center in East China. The city has a prominent place in Chinese history and culture, having been the capital of China for several periods. Since the Three Kingdoms period, it has been a leader in textiles, shipbuilding and printing.

Kodak’s William Mansfield share his insights  on how printers are profitably operating print-on-demand business models, where the business of printing books represents more than a US$35 billion opportunity, with China representing 12% of the global market.

Kodak’s William Mansfield share his insights on how printers are profitably operating print-on-demand business models, where the business of printing books represents more than a US$35 billion opportunity, with China representing 12% of the global market.

Today, Phoenix carries on the proud tradition of centuries of printing innovation in Nanjing. Established in 1991, Phoenix has become one of the most prominent publishing conglomerates in China. A position it has attained by keeping one foot in the future. Over the past several years, Phoenix has been investing in its future by creating the capability to become a leader in the Print-on-Demand (POD) publishing market. The integration of Kodak’s PROSPER 1000 System in 2011 was the first step the company took to grow its short-run book printing operations. Recently, Phoenix purchased Kodak’s new PROSPER 6000 as part of its continued investment to become a “zero-inventory” publisher. With over 40 major publishers on its POD platform and the capability to produce over 20,000 books a day, Phoenix can whisk a range of titles to buyers within 2-3 days. (more…)

China’s CEPIEC Inaugurates Kodak PROSPER

CEPIECCEPIEC, which was established in 1987 by the  by the Ministry of Education, is one of the largest importers and exporters of publications in China. The company’s customers cover universities, research institutions, public libraries, hospitals, corporations and government organizations in over 30 provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions in China.

With an eye to modernizing their operations, including adding print-on-demand capabilities for its customers, CEPIEC recently purchase a KODAK 1000 PROSPER PRESS.  We’re very excited for their team, as they continue to break new boundaries in the marketplace. 

CEPEIC inaugurates Kodak's PROSPER 1000 Press, opening up a range of new applications, like Print-on-Demand books.

CEPIEC inaugurates Kodak’s PROSPER 1000 Press, opening up a range of new applications, like Print-on-Demand books.

 

Prosper6000 Ribbon Cutting at the Customer VIP Open House

Close to 90 people attended the Prosper 6000 Customer VIP event in Minneapolis Minnesota and they were treated to an exciting program and unveiling of the new press from Kodak.  Customers and prospective customers from around the world arrived on Tuesday June 17th and connected with their sales teams. The sales team members had just spent the previous day in a deep dive Prosper6000 training event.  23 companies participated with 30% from EAMER, 22% from APR and 48% from the USC region.  The following day involved a formal program and then a trip to our beta customer Japs-Olson.  The team at Japs-Olson were gracious hosts and provided their thoughts and perspective on the press, the workflow/pre-press decisions that are considered in their business as well as overviewed their thoughts about the operational costs and issues that they have needed to work through.   

ribbonThe ribbon cutting ceremony included Michael Murphy, Robert Murphy, Mike Beddor, Doug Edwards, Terry Taber, John O’Grady, and Eric Owen.

The feedback from the event has been tremendous – one customer shared the following via an email when he returned home.  “The 6000 press and the inline inkjet heads I saw at Japs-Olson were very impressive and have certainly provided us with a lot to contemplate and to work through and we look forward to doing that with your local teams over the coming months.”

The ribbon cutting is the culmination of many years of hard work by our R&D, technical commercialization teams, service and many-many others.  Thanks to everyone who enabled us to get to this day!

KODAK PROSPER 6000 Presses Unleash the Next-Generation of Printing to Meet Diverse Customer Needs

Prosper 6000 largeROCHESTER, N.Y., JUN. 10 — Today Kodak continues to exceed industry standards in digital
color print with the introduction of the KODAK PROSPER 6000 Presses. With new innovations in
transport, drying, and writing systems, combined with advanced press management technology, the PROSPER 6000 Presses are a completely new product offering that deliver high levels of reliability, print speed and application flexibility. These enhancements will empower customers in the book, commercial print and newspaper businesses as well as print service providers of data-driven print applications such as direct mail and transaction with tools for success.

The PROSPER 6000 Presses are powered by an advanced Intelligent Print System (IPS) that
continuously monitors, evaluates and adjusts operations to ensure exceptional quality output.
With the improved IPS, the PROSPER 6000 Presses can monitor and instantly correct color
registration, delivering enhanced registration performance. The 6000 Press’s writing system
runs on Kodak’s newly formulated nanotechnology inks, offering a greater color gamut and
delivering print quality that rivals offset output on a wide range of uncoated, coated, and glossy
papers.

Two PROSPER 6000 Models for Business Agility
The PROSPER 6000 Presses will be made available in two models:

  • KODAK PROSPER 6000C Press, ideal for commercial print applications requiring high-ink

laydowns. (more…)