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Friday, Sep 23, 2005

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Ifra unveils new tech interface for newspapers & advertisers

N. Nagaraj

New Delhi , Sept. 22

NEWSPAPERS and advertisers need no longer get into a tussle every day over reproduction quality and deadlines if the results of a series of ongoing Ifra projects are implemented. Ifra's ICONS project — Indian cold-set newspaper standards — which involved nine publications in 16 printing centres over the last one-and-a-half years — will introduce the new standards to the advertising industry in Mumbai on Saturday.

The main advantages of the ICONS project to newspapers will be standardisation of output, less time and effort spent on preparing material for printing, cutting down on expensive inks and allotting inventory to wrongly reproduced ads.

From the advertisers' perspective, the main advantage would be that they can send the same set of materials to all participants in the ICONS project initially, and later, to all newspapers that adopt the standards. This project has been logically extended to a new digital ad transmission project that can be used by advertisers to send ads to newspapers. Ifra, an association of newspapers for technology dissemination in the media, is now negotiating with vendors for such a system and will start a pilot project in 3-4 months. This system will take the ICONS project further in terms of digital transmission, speed, online proofing and approval.

The digital ad transmission project was announced by Mr K.N. Shanth Kumar, Editor, Deccan Herald, and Director, Ifra India, at the conference.

Together the ICONS and the digital ad transmission projects are expected to bring down inconsistency in reproduction, reduce material usage and transmission time, and extend deadlines.

Apart from these projects, Ifra India is in the process of setting up a materials testing lab for newspapers along with the Department of Printing Technology in the Anna University, said Mr R.V. Rajan, Managing Director, Ifra India, and CMD, Anugrah Madison Advertising.

Initially, the lab will test newsprint and inks. In his keynote address delivered on Wednesday, Mr Willem O. Kok, the President of Ifra, spoke about the trends in the communication industry. He added that he was "envious of the Indian newspapers as you are seeing the kind of growth numbers that we used to see many years back. We have not seen such numbers for a long time."

The main changes that he identified were: media consumption is now 24/7 and not confined just to the home and office; environment trends in demographics; technology trends in terms of faster and more convenient communication; and trends in society in which much more `individualisation' is happening and is expected. All these trends are leading to a change in the typical consumer and having great impact on the newspaper industry.

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