By Martin Skelly

We set out to explore how we could combine printed newspapers with digital data and services.

“National daily newspapers in the UK lost half a million in average daily sales over the past year."

“The total number of national newspapers sold in the UK fell from an average of 7.6m a day to just over 7m between March 2014 and March 2015, a decline of 7.6%.”

“Year on year, every daily saw its circulation fall.” The Guardian

This year-on-year decline in print sales though, is nothing new. It’s a worrying trend for traditional press, but it has been declining for the last decade. People just aren’t engaging with printed media with the enthusiasm that they used to. 

We love print, reading a printed newspaper is very different to browsing the news on an iPad, and so it should remain. With this recent collaboration though, we set out to challenge this shift and explore how we could combine printed newspapers with digital data and services.

We’ve been working with the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) and leading newspaper publisher Trinity Mirror to create an interactive print supplement to celebrate Steven Gerrard’s career at Liverpool Football Club.

Super 8_no5 

The prototype, Super 8, is for Trinity’s Liverpool Echo. It takes eight of the most memorable moments from Gerrard’s career at the club (a nod to his shirt number).

By connecting a clip to the one page supplement, a user can listen to audio snippets from eight individual and momentous games, as varied as the famous Champions League victory in Istanbul to winning the 2006 FA Cup in Cardiff.

Building on our Postcard Player, the supplement uses conductive ink. When the clip is connected to the edge of the print like a bookmark, pressing the printed buttons trigger online interactions. This can be dynamic content pulling new information or live goals and commentary. 

Super 8_no4 

Paul Gallagher, Digital Innovations Editor at Trinity Mirror Regional, said: “Ultimately we are a traditional media company changing for a digital world. We want to bring innovation and experimentation to the heart of everything we do. 

“We know Liverpool fans are building up for Gerrard’s final game, so it’s a good opportunity to try something new.”

Gallagher said the project was primarily about “testing” whether an internet-connected product could drive new audiences, and potentially lead to a new revenue model. 

“Although we’re not envisaging distributing these products to every Echo reader any time soon, we do want to see if there is any potential in this.” 

"It’s great to work with organisations like UCLan and partners like Uniform who are pioneering in this area.”

“We’re testing the prototype with user groups around Liverpool to measure people’s reaction to it. We’ll use the feedback to assess the value, opportunities and potential to develop the concept of connecting print and the role it can play in reconnecting readers of the future to traditional press, by joining up digital and physical media.”

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