Cross-Media Production in Change: Interview with Ira Melaschuk

The 5th edition of the reference book “Web-to-Publish|Web-to-Media: Guidelines for Cross-Media Production” has just been published and has already been presented at the PRINT & DIGITAL CONVENTION 2022. drupa is a long-standing cooperation partner of author Ira Melaschuk, who also gave a presentation on the topic at the convention. We spoke with her.

The future of cross-media production is Ira Melaschuk’s professional field. The author of “Web-to-Publish|Web-to-Media: Guidelines for Cross-Media Production” now presents the 5th edition of the reference book. The expert and owner of the management consultancy Melaschuk Medien – Unternehmensberatung has gained a long-standing cooperation partner in drupa, which has also supported the publication of the 5th edition. In this interview, she talks to us about trends, requirements and areas of application for cross-media media production and presents best cases.

The 5th edition of your reference book has just been published. How has cross-media production developed since the 4th edition?

On the one hand, the number of media channels has increased, especially in the digital realm – from social media platforms to virtual worlds. On the other hand, the development of artificial intelligence (AI) has picked up speed, so that AI is able to take over a range of activities with high quality, such as the time-consuming input of media and product data, image releases or motif changes, and much more now. Data management and the associated personalization have also become even more important.

What are the new trends and requirements?

I would classify the Metaverse under “new”, where the connection of virtual and augmented reality applications leads to virtual worlds that are to determine our everyday life in the future. Another development is PrintCSS for the creation of PDF files based on XML or HTML files – a pragmatic connection of the digital and print worlds.

One requirement that is not new, but is becoming increasingly important, is the personalization of publications in order to address target groups at the right time. However, this collides with the general conditions of privacy, which are tending to become more restrictive, and the resulting technical limitations, such as the future elimination of third-party cookies. Solutions to the dilemma are being hotly debated, and the next few years will show which technologies will prevail. In my view, an important technical basis will be the use of so-called “customer data platforms” that integrate data from a wide variety of data sources and lead them out in a targeted manner.

How have the application areas of cross-media production expanded or changed?

On the one hand, the areas of application are expanding due to the increasing number of media channels in the digital sector. On the other hand, functional extensions can also be observed: For example, social media platforms frequently integrate shopping functions as well.

Digitization is encompassing more and more areas and permeating process chains. Examples include the automation of the purchasing of advertising materials, including print materials, as well as media booking and control processes.

In the print sector, projects with highly personalized publications are increasingly being implemented – the keyword here is “Programmatic Printing,” in which printed matter is produced as a one-to-one communication medium using digital printing. The topic is gaining in importance in view of the increasing pressure to which print production is exposed.

The “Marketing and Communication Ecosystem” comprises a whole chapter in the book. The method was developed by Melaschuk-Medien. Can you describe what it is about?

Put simply, the “Marketing and Communications Ecosystem” contains common deployment scenarios and typical elements of marketing and communications solutions. Companies looking for systems can use this as a basis to define their requirements, to “pick and choose” what they need. Once this positioning is clear, suitable solutions can be evaluated. Solution providers, in turn, can use the ecosystem to present their own offerings transparently. I also carry out provider certifications for this purpose.

Together with experts, you present many solutions and best cases: Which of them present the topic of cross-media production in a particularly memorable and vivid way?

In order for a case to appear in the “Practice and Solutions” chapter, there is the requirement that at least two media channels should be diverted with the solution presented in order to be considered “cross-media”. In this respect, all the contributions illustrate the topic very concretely and show the diversity: individualized advertising material production for local marketing, central media and product data management with personalized output for e-commerce, print and digital publications, collaborative magazine production and an event booking system with email automation.

Among the publication’s many supporters are various educational institutions: Why has your book established itself as a reference book?

The career paths are highly differentiated and this is also reflected in the job profiles in the industry. When I graduated from the Hochschule der Medien in Stuttgart (formerly the Fachhochschule für Druck) in 1989, there were seven degree programs. Today, there are 16 bachelor’s and 9 master’s degree programs there, plus specializations. I see it as a challenge not to lose sight of the “big picture”. The reference book can make a contribution to this.

Why did you decide to offer the book both as a print and online edition?

The book is about cross-media production, and the name should also be the program. It is my intention to take sides neither for print nor for digital media production. Both have their advantages, weaknesses and opportunities.

Thank you very much for the exciting insights, Ms. Melaschuk. You can get the book here. It will also be available in a limited special edition at drupa.

About the author: Ira Melaschuk is the owner of the consultancy Melaschuk-Medien and offers vendor-neutral system selection consulting with a focus on marketing portals, web-to-print, web-to-publish and cross-media solutions. From 2000 to 2012, she was a seminar instructor at the Print Media Academy of Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG, and for eight years she was an adjunct lecturer at the University of Wuppertal in the master’s degree program in print and media technology. Her reference book “Web-to-Publish|Web-to-Media: Guidelines for Cross-Media Production” has established itself as a standard work and is used as basic literature at universities and educational institutions.

 Images Copyright Notice: Ira Melaschuk, Melaschuk-Medien

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