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Interest Rates Have Rising Since the End of 2011

We all know how the markets seem to panic when the Fed hints that rates will be rising soon, but they already have. That is, the markets have been pushing up the inflation-adjusted 10-year US Treasury since September 2011 by 420 basis points (4.2 percentage points). The rate is now the highest since June 2010, at 2.33%. This measure can be volatile because of the inflation adjustment. We used the year-to-year inflation rate as measured by the Consumer Price Index for that reason. There are Fed governors who believe that they have great latitude to be patient with a rise in inflation since their target of +2% annual inflation has not been met. This means that they believe they have a cushion of “banked” uncreated inflation that they can use up before they move aggressively. Whatever the case, a 25 basis point rise in short term rates is not much, as they might actually be catching up to the marketplace that has already moved and the Fed is already lagging well behind it. They miss an important point. The CPI does not measure inflation in a practical way. If wages are stagnant (though a little better lately), a “mild” 2% rise can be a burden. Median household income is still 4% lower than its peak just after the recession started. A 2% rise in inflation plus the 4% lower income is a 6% difference. That's something that's rarely mentioned in the business press.


Printers 5 Top Challenges with Print Software

Software is mission critical to your business, like other infrastructure investments it takes time and effort to make the best decisions, plan to get the most ROI, and continue to build differentiation in the marketplace. Optimizing your print software investments comes with challenges which every printer faces in order to compete in an increasingly online, digital world.


“Cluster” of Companies Aims to Stimulate Papermaking Industry in the Bay State

There’s strength in numbers—and in “clusters” of businesses like the ones that have come together to reinvigorate paper manufacturing in Massachusetts.


CxF3 and Color Management – exciting things to come

In this article, David Zwang looks at the evolution of Color Management in light of the recent approval of CxF3 as a standard by the ISO, what exciting new things it can bring to the process of Color Management in design and production, and what the future holds.


EskoWorld 2015: Dreams for Tomorrow

The community of U.S. Esko users descended upon the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess in Arizona earlier this week to sharpen their skills, answer questions, get product roadmaps, and network with Esko executives and engineers as well as a diverse group of their peers.


Ad Agency Revenues Still on the Rise, Up 40% Since Start of Recovery

Since the start of the recovery all the way back in mid-2009, advertising agency revenues have increased by +$32 billion, +40% since that time. There are many economic indicators that have never recovered (such as full time jobs) but ad agency revenues have blown through the pre-recession high of $91 billion and is now running at the rate of $112 billion annually. The agencies have had this performance because they are immersed in the media upheaval, riding and stoking the changes in communications formats on behalf of their clients. Wages have followed this shift in media, and has been documented by us before. The average public relations pay is about $10,000 more than the averaged of all agency wages. Book publishing industry revenues have stabilized, and trends of newspaper and periodical publishing revenues are still down, but at a lesser rate.


Signs and Wonders: Digital Begins to Transform Indoor and Outdoor Displays

Smart screens that look back at their onlookers are only the beginning of the changes that digital technology will bring to signage and display markets that used to belong to—but now must be shared by—conventional print.


Web-to-Print Differences: In-Plants vs. Commercial Printers (Premium Content)

InfoTrends’ research has uncovered some key differences in web-to-print adoption among commercial printers versus corporate in-plants. This article leverages recent research to explore some of the differences in how these two groups use web-to-print technology.


Online Print Marketing: Optimizing for Two Audiences (Premium Content)

Inbound marketing is the strategy of choice for online marketing, content is the main ingredient to any successful inbound marketing strategy. Your content has to be optimized for two audiences; your target customers and the search engines.


Man of Letters: Hermann Zapf and the Art of Packaging Typography

Typography for packaging design will never be the same after Hermann Zapf—and always will be.


Sew What? The New Skill Sets for Wide-Format (Premium Content)

Printing is easy; it’s all the other stuff that can pose challenges. Producing wide-format output can require a different approach to traditional processes, from selling, to finishing, to transporting. What do you need to know before you take the plunge?


May 2015 – Mergers, Acquisitions & Restructuring in the Printing, Packaging & Related Industries

De-evolution for eBooks Platform? – May 2015 M&A Activity, includes commercial printing, packaging, newspapers, and equipment.


Anti-Counterfeiting Technologies Tell Packaging Knock-Offs To Knock It Off

In a perfect world, food and beverage producers wouldn't have to spend billions to protect themselves against bogus packaging. But, at least they have effective ways to spend the money.


The Dscoop Community Tradition Continues: Dscoop Open in Dublin, Ireland

At the Dscoop Open event (June 3-5 at the Convention Center in Dublin, Ireland), solutions partners shared their perspectives on how to make a “hole in one” with digital printing. This article provides a brief overview of the event’s highlights.


Latest Employment Data in Printing and Content Creation Markets

In spite of recent strength in US commercial printing industry shipments, employment is still on a downward path. The industry seems to becoming more efficient, somewhat from better management, and somewhat from consolidation as weak establishments are aborbed or exit the market. Compared to April, however, the Bureau of Labor statistics estimates that employment increased by about 600, which is common compared for May in recent years. The April public relations employment was very strong compared to the prior year and is up +8.8%. When PR employment is excluded from ad agency employment, the number of employees in agencies is still up +2.1%. The employment data have always reflected the changes in the media market as well as the strength in the economy. Though the economy is slow, advertising agencies have reinvented themselves and are very active in social media and digital media production.


Revised Commerce Department Data Sends Forecasts in Opposite Directions: Will US Printing in 2020 be $90 Billion or $27 Billion? (Premium Content)

Data for the end of 2012 and the beginning of 2013 were revised to a slight rise in shipments when the original data showed a steady and significant decline. That period of mild increase was followed by a period of decline that was smaller in magnitude than originally reported.


Accu-Label Enters the Digital Market at a Pace That Wastes No Time

A rapid changeover from conventional to digital production was both the cause and the result of the installation of digital printing equipment at Accu-Label Inc.


Magic Bus

If you happen to have been in Singapore recently—and who of us hasn’t?—you may have caught sight of a new wide-format backlit film that can be used for vehicle graphics. Called eLumiNEX, it has been given a shakedown cruise on a bus.


The Current State of the Graphics & Sign Industry

SGIA’s Dan Marx shares highlights from the 2015 SGIA Specialty Imaging Industry Survey. What equipment is hot? What products are on the rise, and which are on the decline? In what verticals are the hot prospects? And what is the overall market outlook for the wide-format and specialty graphics industry?


Next-Stage Growth Was Front-of-Mind at Digital Print for Packaging Conference

Digital printing for packaging has room to grow and the means to achieve that growth. There was plenty of room for discussion about making it happen at a recent symposium of experts in Tampa.


10 of 11 Months of Increased Inflation-Adjusted US Commercial Printing Shipments

This chart shows how the US commercial printing shipments have been better compared to the prior year for the last 11 months of reporting by the Commerce Department. What's it mean? We're still averaging $400 million per month less than a similar period in 2010-2011, and we're well below the levels of ten years ago by about -$2.8 billion per month. The recent stability may be the result of several factors. First, weak companies are gone as a result of closures and consoPrinting Shipments Rising, Best April Since 2010lidations, leaving companies that know what modern print users need. Second, there has been a generational change in management to owners and executives who are more comfortable with digital technology because they have always used it, growing up with cell phones, video games, and computers everywhere. Third, the big targets for displacement by digital media have been pulverized, and what remains are specialties and applications more appropriate to a multichannel integrated media marketplace. Fourth, there a more companies using business development techniques (tell us about your target audience and how we can make your digital initiatives more effective) rather than old sales techniques (would you like to see my equipment list?). Then again, it could be the calm before another storm. New data networks are on their way, such as 5G, where two hour movies can be downloaded in six seconds rather than six minutes. Print has a good story to tell, but please, don't make it an old story. Print needs to be fresh and new. The market may be stable now, so use this time well to get ready for the market ahead.


The Stars Are Aligned for ANRO in Production Inkjet Printing

ANRO Communications is well-known in the printing community for its innovation and thought leadership position. In this article, sponsored by HP, Paul DeSantis, ANRO’s Director of IT, talks about how production inkjet has future-proofed the company’s business.


Top 5 Mistakes with Web-to-Print (Premium Content)

Web-to-print is our term for moving customer engagement online. This represents a big change for most traditional business-to-business printers. This article describes the top five mistakes I see when working with printers through this transition from an offline business to an online / self-service customer interaction model.


Commerce Department Revises US Commercial Printing Shipments Data: Revises Shipments Higher for 2013 and 2014 (Premium Content)

Every May, the US Department of Commerce issues “benchmark” revisions to the manufacturing shipments data it reports. Every month, the shipments report is used by economists and analysts at Government agencies, such as the Treasury Department, but also by banks, businesses, and others, to identify strong and weak areas of the economy, and to forecast future economic conditions. The reports are based on a combination of actual and estimated data from economic models.


Today’s the Day: OSHA HCS Compliance Update

If you work with hazardous chemicals or other substances commonly used in printing operations, June 1, 2015, is the deadline for meeting new requirements to OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard (HCS), in particular, new warning labels and Safety Data Sheets (SDS). Here’s what you need to know.


Paper Chase: Mcor Pursues 3D Printing Market with Ingredients That Every Printer Knows

Put ink on paper, and you have a print. Do the same thing as part of a process known as selective deposition lamination, and you can have a three-dimensional object in full, ICC-compliant color.


A Renewed Focus on Core Print Services and a Slowing PSP-to-MSP Migration (Premium Content)

The transition from a Print Service Provider to a Marketing Service Provider has been a topic of discussion for several years now. Although some businesses are making this shift, others are placing a renewed focus on their core competencies. This article cites InfoTrends’ research and explores the challenges that can arise when attempting to make the transition to an MSP.


Microbusinesses Increasing as a Percentage of the Workforce

The Commerce Department released its “Nonemployer Statistics” data for 2013, showing that these businesses increased to 23 million since 2012, and by 30%, three times the rate of population growth, since 2002. Let's call them “microbusinesses.” They are now more than one in seven of the workforce.


The Custom Print Software Project

When you need a custom software solution, think about assembling a puzzle rather than building from scratch. The software landscape is full of integrate-able pieces that can give you ‘expected’ functionality so you can focus your custom development on what makes you ‘unique’.


The Pizza Box—Yes, the Pizza Box—Reimagined

When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, it may be because someone has printed or drawn the moon (or another visually arresting image) on the box.


Two Paper Makers Forge Alliance for High-End Packaging (Premium Content)

Trust, a handshake, and an eye on luxury packaging are behind the newly formed partnership between Mohawk and Arjowiggins Creative Papers.


No Letup in Experiments with E-Ink and E-Paper

If e-ink and e-paper haven’t yet taken the world of graphic communications by storm, that doesn’t necessarily mean they never will.


Cordoba Printing Brings Print On Demand to Israeli Publishers with Kodak PROSPER 1000

Adding production inkjet to its book printing operation is enabling Cordoba Printing & Binding of Israel to adjust to drastic changes in the Israeli book market as well as to pursue new business opportunities. Learn more in this article sponsored by Kodak.


Revised Annual US Commercial Printing Shipments Show Stability in Recent Years

Last week, the US Department of Commerce released its annual revisions to manufacturing shipments. Printing shipments estimates were increased a total of approximately $10 billion combined for 2013 and 2014. The data softened the decline in 2013 shipments by a considerable margin and also reaffirmed the recent rise in printing shipments over the last ten months. While shipments in 2014 were still below 2013 on an inflation-adjusted basis, the pattern of the last few years shows a decline in shipments that is more muted than the Commerce Department originally reported. Our advice is the same: this is breathing room that can be used for restructuring of print businesses with forward-looking strategies that can take advantage of the next waves of communications technologies, while implementing sales and marketing processes that are appropriate for the times ahead.


Has your Print MIS Estimating Fallen Apart? (Premium Content)

Estimating is a core function for Print MIS software, yet many printers fail to implement this part of the system to a trusted level, hence there is a lot of retreating back to Excel. Estimating is a critical function that needs to be part of your integrated and measureable print management information system.


Digital Signage Assistants


In Praise of Packaging Engineering, with Specimens that Speak for Themselves (Premium Content)

In a package, you see the design, but you experience the engineering: the underlying combination of technical merits that make it practical to use as well as delightful to behold.


Challenges In Sizing the Sign and Display Market (Premium Content)

By all accounts, the sign and display industry is growing by leaps and bounds. But getting accurate sizing data is fraught with difficulties—difficulties that have largely been caused by the very factors that are driving growth.


Why Can’t We All Be Employed by Employers Like Hammer Packaging ?

Rochester, NY, is distinguished for many things connected to the printing industry. Hammer Packaging is keeping that tradition alive in an exceptionally employee-friendly way.


Reinvention: Centered on the Customer (Premium Content)

During the 2015 Inkjet Summit, service providers acknowledged that much of the innovation in their markets was done in collaboration with customers and driven by the dynamic changes in the clients’ specific businesses. This article explores how inkjet technology is delivering key advantages to transactional printing, direct mail marketing, and publication printing applications.


NAICS 323 US Commercial Printing Establishments

These data about US commercial printing establishments are from the newly released 2013 County Business Patterns published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. At the turn of this century, there were nearly 38,000 establishments engaged in commercial printing and services; in 2013 there were nearly 27,000. These data do not include inplant printing departments or packaging, but do include label printers and trade services. An establishment is a separate location in a practical definition, and a firm can own more than one establishment. The number of establishments is in response to the size, scope, and nature of overall print demand, but there are other factors.


Latest Analysis of Employment and Retail Sales Data (Premium Content)

Dr Joe. digs into the last 2015 GDP trends, last Friday's overall unemployment report, and US commercial printing employment.


Focus, Priorities: The Future of Your Print Business (Premium Content)

Looking backwards won’t help you navigate the uncharted waters of the future. The print businesses of the future will adapt to remain relevant in a digital, online, and data-driven world.


Eeewww or Edible? Nanoscience May Have an Answer for Food Packaging

Deciding when packaged food has gone bad is a tough call that we often get wrong. At MIT, they’ve come up with a guesswork-eliminating solution.


Catching the Falling Knife versus Personal Branding – April 2015 M&A Activity

April 2015 –Mergers, Acquisitions & Restructuring in the Printing, Packaging & Related Industries


With Flexcel NX, Kodak Promises to Break New Ground in Flexo Print Quality and Efficiency

Can flexography do a better job with opaque whites, hard-to-hold details, and other hurdles for packaging printing with the process? Kodak says yes.


ISA 2015: Trends and Opportunities

InfoTrends’ Steve Urmano recaps the recent ISA Sign Expo with a rundown of some of the major product announcements, as well as a diverse array of other printing and finishing equipment on display.


First Quarter US Commercial Printing Shipments Up +3.5% Versus 2014

The last ten months of US commercial printing shipments have increased +3% compared to the same months of the prior years. For the first calendar quarter, shipments are up +3.5% compared to the same quarter of 2014. There has not been this kind of growth for about ten years. Please note, however, that the Commerce Department is revising at least three years of historical data next week; it's not possible to determine how the data will change. Assuming the pattern of these data remain the same, it's not a long term bottoming of the shipment level that will turn upward again. The march of digital technologies that offer alternatives to print will continue (read what 5G networks will bring in 2020, for example). It's more likely a pause that should be used to reposition well-running print businesses for the future, consider investing in capabilities and businesses that will take advantage of the new communications innovations ahead, and develop alliances with others whose talents will be needed to do so. This might be 2005-2007 playing out again for us. If your business is growing, don't rest on your laurels. Appreciate the flexibility your business has to prepare for the future and use the time wisely. Never hunker down and wait for things to play out.


Access Direct: Reinventing Business with Inkjet Technology (Premium Content)

During the 2015 Inkjet Summit, a number of innovators acknowledged the need to leverage emerging technologies to profitably accelerate business growth. This article explores how Access Direct has reinvented itself as a leader in data management, variable messaging, and inkjet printing. It also demonstrates how Access Direct’s actions parallel the advice given in Josh Linkner’s book entitled The Road to Reinvention: How to Drive Disruption and Accelerate Transformation.


Organic Search Success and Duplicate Content

The internet search engines do not like duplicate content; in fact they rank your site lower if you are duplicating content from a site that clearly has the authority to that content.


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