22 . 01 . 24

"Printed products offer many advantages in digitalised world"

Words by: Print Power
Bertelsmann Marketing Services is one of the largest printing and marketing services companies in Europe. Dirk Kemmerer is the CEO of this division of the Bertelsmann Group. Ulbe Jelluma asked him a number of questions about the outlook for 2024.


Ulbe Jelluma: We live in uncertain times with political, economic, technological and climate changes. What will be the challenges and opportunities in your industry?

Dirk Kemmerer: The last time we had to painfully experience how quickly changes can negatively impact important parameters in our industry was in 2022 when prices for raw materials and energy rose to dizzying heights within a short space of time due to geopolitical crises and the pandemic. A development that led to major upheavals in our industry and created major challenges for us all. I see opportunities in particular in technical developments that will enable us to produce in an increasing climate-neutral way. In my view, the products out of the printing industry are much more challenged than the climate costs for short-living stories or videos.

UJ: The most important themes are without a doubt AI and sustainability. How does that impact your industry and what kind of opportunities does that offer?

DK: The intelligent use of AI in the printing process offers immense opportunities, firstly to optimize production workflows, secondly to sustainably reduce costs and thirdly to make targeted progress on the important topic of automation. The subject of sustainability has been on the agenda at Bertelsmann Marketing Services for decades. In terms of their environmental impact, print products are becoming ever better and therefore more competitive. We will utilise the opportunities arising from this development in a targeted manner.

UJ: Sustainability is increasingly becoming an important factor in the choice of printed material. Will this affect publishers more in 2024?

DK: We have been observing this trend for some time, and not just among our clients in the publishing industry. We are working hard with creativity and technical expertise to meet the various requirements of our customers for sustainable print production. Our activities range from prioritising the use of recycled or certified papers to constantly improving energy management and reducing waste to a large extent.

UJ: Publishers have various options to publish their content. Are you considering new channels in 2024?

DK: As a multi-channel marketing service provider, we are well prepared not only to supply our customers with high-quality print products, but also to support them with comprehensive services when communicating via other channels.


Dirk Kemmerer CEO Bertelsmann Marketing Services

UJ: Technological change is going much faster than consumer acceptance and usage. In France for example, almost a third of the population (16 m people), including the group of 18-24 years, express their lack of sufficiently mastering online skills. Do you expect such a proportion of the population to stick to printed communication such as books and newspapers/magazines?

DK: We are currently in a phase of profound change in all areas of life. For this reason, it makes no sense to make predictions about medium and long-term developments at the moment. However, I am convinced that printed products offer many advantages in an increasingly digitalised world - be it the haptic or the durability - and will therefore continue to be relevant for a lot of people for several years to come.

UJ: Some voices in the industry say that the future of print media, such as newspapers, magazines, brochures and books, is in the high quality segment featuring special papers, more enrichment techniques and quality content. Do you expect publishers to follow this trend in 2024?

DK: This is a possible path that some publishers will follow. However, this certainly can't and won't be the solution for every publisher. I am sure that there will continue to be a broad spectrum of different publishing offerings in the future.

UJ: What role do you see for print media in the next 5 years?

DK: Print products will continue to play a major role in the book industry in the coming years and will also remain important in the marketing mix of advertising companies.
Newspapers and magazines are currently under the most pressure and are therefore the most difficult to forecast. However, I can imagine that we will see a similar development in this segment in the coming years as in the music industry. After three decades of consistent digitalisation, there has been a renaissance of the physical product in the form of the vinyl record.


The Bertelsmann Marketing Services division is a cross-channel full-service provider for the advertising industry in which all of Bertelsmann’s direct marketing and print activities are bundled. Bertelsmann Marketing Services comprises four divisions: First, the German offset printers Mohn Media, GGP Media and Vogel Druck; second, the Book Printing Group in the United States, which consists of several offset and digital printers specializing in the production of books; third, the Digital Marketing Unit, which includes Germany’s leading content agency Territory, Campaign, the DeutschlandCard and the Dialog business; and fourth, the Sonopress Group, with the storage media producer Sonopress and the printing and packaging specialist Topac. Bertelsmann Marketing Services is wholly owned by Bertelsmann.