When print meets digital, visions become true and exciting print products become possible: Packaging lights up, posters transport you into virtual worlds, mailing campaigns become measurable and giveaways playfully ensure a sustainable advertising effect. Print products are coming to life thanks to interfaces such as QR codes, augmented reality or touch codes. Visitors of the drupa cube 2012 on the  “Day of Packaging” (04 May), on the “Day of Dialogue Marketing” (10 May) and on the “Day of Out of Home” (14 May) will find out what is already being used successfully today and what will be possible tomorrow. 

The black and white squares can currently be found almost everywhere: On business cards, posters, packaging – even on roofs, cufflinks, gravestones or condom packets. QR codes point smartphone users in a simple and direct way to the Internet. Even if the interface between print products and the digital world yields strange results every now and again, its advantages are evident: The black and white matrix can be produced quickly and cost effectively and can be read with all QR readers. Customers and those interested can quickly and easily be piloted to campaigns, information, services and mobile shopping.

Square, practical, promotional

According to an eBay study from December last year, 48% of the participants would order online straight away, if a QR code referred them to an interesting product. The consulting firm Deloitte is even more concrete with the results of its current survey M-Commerce in Germany – Positive Outlook for Mobile Shopping: Alongside better mobile networks, new apps for couponing and location-based offers, QR scanning has more than doubled the number of mobile shoppers in Germany in the past twelve months. The increase in shoppers among mobile phone users increased from 6 to 13 per cent. Mainly men are happy to shop with a smartphone. According to the Deloitte study, 41 per cent of the participants obtained information in advance by scanning – for example, regarding the origin of wine or the recipes to go with it.

‘Today, mobile Internet is always at hand due to smartphones increasingly being distributed. Advertisers who do not offer interfaces between classic and digital media, such as QR codes or augmented reality, are being rather foolish as they miss out on chances for new market experiences or direct dialogue with their customers,’ says Florian Gmeinwieser, Head of Mobile at the Plan.Net Group in Munich, Germany. He will provide a lecture on the topic going beyond labels with augmented reality in the drupa cube on the Day of Out of Home.

From web-to-print to print-to-web

Augmented reality, or AR for short, offers many chances to equip print products with added value such as with Karl Knauer KGs give-away which won the Promotional Gift Award 2012 in the category of Communicative Products not long ago. The note cube printed with a marker leads to an AR game via a smartphone app and camera. With this, the aim is to throw (virtual) cans, just like at the fair. An advertising gift which can generate sustainable effects. ‘The interfaces between print and digital media are extremely important,’ says Martin Glatz, Head of Marketing at Karl Knauer and the speaker in the drupa cube on the Day of Packaging. ‘Simply because this is the future. Earlier on, we spoke of web-to-print, now todays focus is print-to-web. Real worlds merge with virtual worlds, print information with multimedia (online) information. We will soon be able to finally experience brands in a comprehensive cross-media way – on POS and at home.’

New technologies for more growth

Even Mike Ferrari sees new technologies as the future. For over three decades, he was responsible for the division of Global Packaging at The Procter & Gamble Co. and has designed and organised the “Day of Packaging” in the drupa cube, for which he will hold the opening speech.

‘Companies must create unique features and stimuli for consumers in order to stand out from the crowd with their products,’ says the founder and president of Ferrari Innovations Solutions, LLC. ‘The weak economy has brought growth to a halt in past years; groundbreaking future trends can change this. In the future, printing companies must develop from pure service providers to partners who actively create added value for their customers. On the

Day of Packaging, the visitors to the drupa cube will experience how groundbreaking technologies and trends can change the future of the industry.’ These include technologies such as the touch code. This can be printed on paper, cardboard or foil like a QR code, however, in comparison it is invisible. Like its eye-catching brother, it can provide exclusive access to digital content such as campaigns, games or more information. Its advantage is that it cannot be copied as easily as a QR code and thus offers more security for the user and can, for example be diversely used in dialogue marketing, as the success of mailings can be measured with it. An important option for direct marketers who wish to concentrate somewhat on new international markets.

The visitors to the drupa cube can learn more on the “Day of Dialogue Marketing”: It impressively combines classic direct marketing topics with interactive marketing ideas, explains Dorothe Eickholt, Managing Director of Swiss Post International Germany and speaker on this drupa cube day. Web-to-print solutions such as the SwissPostCard, individualised one-to-one marketing such as holiday magazines and QR codes, which bring mailings to life, push customer dialogue to new markets.

The bilingual programme (simultaneous in German and in English) is geared towards international specialists. The drupa cube 2012 is located directly next to the drupa innovation park on the exhibition grounds – technology and application are easily interlinked this way. The symposiums of the drupa cube 2012 take place every trade fair day from 10:15 am to 1:30 pm. A ticket for an event day costs 199 euros. This includes the admission to drupa 2012 and lunch on the respective day.

About the author: Nicola Scheifele, with her press agency allWrite, mostly writes as a freelance journalist and author on the topics of marketing and media. At the moment, she is focusing especially on print communication. She regularly posts on her blog at www.print.de/B-Logbuch about the latest print products.