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Smart Paper – a personalized newspaper as an innovative advertising medium

Mid-2019 Funke Mediengruppe launched "Smart Paper" – a personalized newspaper. Advertising customers can use the product to present their desired topic on 8 to 20 newspaper pages – with two special features: The interaction of various databases and digital printing makes it possible to address each reader personally and individually.

Daily newspapers are under enormous pressure worldwide, and not just since the coronacrisis. Advertising revenues have been collapsing in the print sector for years and cannot be fully compensated by digital advertising and circulation revenues. In addition to digitizing their offerings, publishing houses are trying to score points on the market with new services. The German Funke Mediengruppe is pursuing an interesting approach with "Smart Paper" – a personalized newspaper as an innovative advertising medium.

Getting complex messages across better
The team led by Funke Druck's Managing Director, Dr. Klemens Berktold, has asked itself how newspapers can also benefit from digitization in order to attract new readers. However, this is not primarily about a purely technical approach, but about recognizing the strengths of printed communication and expressing them in the truest sense of the word. 

After all, print has what it takes to stand out from the flood of electronic information by establishing an authentic and valuable contact with the reader. A haptic product can convey complex messages better and is also remembered longer. 

Combining the strengths of print and online 
Smart Paper has therefore set itself the goal of combining the strengths of print and online. Thanks to the continuous development in digital printing in recent years, personalized content can now also be produced in larger runs. At Smart Paper, we are talking about a starting print run of 5,000 copies or more. In the projects implemented so far, the average print run has been around 50,000. When considering advertising effectiveness, one must not forget the initial costs for the concept, content, design and data preparation.

No wastage in the recipients' mailboxes
Advertising partners can use the format to reach their desired readers from Funke Mediengruppe's 1.1 million subscriber address pool with pinpoint accuracy – for example, differentiated by age, living situation or financial situation, which is intended to eliminate wastage. If desired, external addresses and data can of course also be included, whereby the issue of data protection is consistently implemented. Initial experience has shown that three sectors – the automotive industry, banks and insurance companies, and individual segments of the retail sector – are particularly suitable for this form of advertising.

Tailored content
Smart Paper acts as a full-service provider and can draw on the expertise of the entire technical infrastructure of Funke Mediengruppe. For example, a dedicated editorial team has been set up. The content is tailored to the needs and lifestyles of each individual reader. But Smart Paper employees also take care of all design, production and distribution issues. Individual or personalized content can be placed on each individual page – but the layout is static. 

The better you succeed in narrowing down the target group, the more relevance you achieve with recipients, which is also reflected in the conversion rate. Print becomes measurable through the use of personalized discount codes, QR codes and the comparison of the list of recipients and buyers. Whereby, from the point of view of Smart Paper's management, we are only at the beginning here and have by no means exhausted the potential.

Combining Big Data with the appeal of a print product 
Distribution to the recipient's mailbox is handled by Funke Mediengruppe's logistics network, and Deutsche Post handles shipping for nationwide campaigns. Due to the stability of the product, it is possible to dispense with an envelope, thus attracting the recipient's attention at first glance. 

For printing, the company relies on a network of print service providers – who have the appropriate roll inkjet printing systems. In a statement, Funke Mediengruppe emphasizes that with Smart Paper it has created an innovative communication medium for products requiring explanation or products with a high number of variants. This allows the fascinating possibilities of big data to be combined with the radiance of a print product.