With so much media attention focused on digital, the print world is meeting in Hamburg, Germany, this week for a conference built on a simple fact: print revenues far outweigh digital revenues at newspaper companies, and finding ways to maximize them for as long as possible, while developing digital platforms, is essential for the future.
The World Printing Summit is looking at the myriad ways to do so: investment, making content more attractive to readers and advertisers, new formats and designs, new printing techniques, and making production more efficient and environmentally friendly.
It might seem counterintuitive to invest in printing when the digital world is exploding, but it is those print revenues that are funding much of the digital development at newspaper companies.
While print advertising is declining and digital advertising is growing, digital only accounted for 2.2 per cent of all newspaper advertising globally in 2011, according to the annual World Press Trends survey from the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA), which organises the annual Printing Summit.
When it comes to print, "we know we're on the downside of the production cycle, but we have no idea how long that period will be. It could be 50 or 100 years, " said Eamonn Byrne, Business Director of The Byrne Partnership in the United Kingdom, one of the Printing Summit speakers. "What we're looking at over the next 2,3, 5 years – the money is still all in print."
There is another reason for not neglecting print as well.
"Maintaining adequate reporting teams is a great challenge in this transformational media age, and the revenues provided by print operations continue to play a major part in ensuring that newspaper companies carry out their essential role in society," said Larry Kilman, Deputy CEO of WAN-IFRA. "The debate really should not be around print versus digital, but how the two media work together."