Magazines Still Need Print: The Facts

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Print is alive and well, despite the abundance of whispers still asking the question. Over the past decade, the magazine industry has seen huge shifts in business, due to innovations in online and digital media. However, no matter how big the shift has been, print remains vital to the industry, and will continue to be for the foreseeable future. Here are the reasons why!

Revenue matters, and print is still the breadwinner:

Advertisements from print were responsible for over $16 billion in revenue in 2016 (PricewaterhouseCoopers, commonly PwC). Around 87% of revenue related to circulation that year was also coming from print products.

Digital publishing has allowed for lower start-up costs for new publications, but the stream of revenue is not there for most. Only a select few, with the right niche topics and an abundance of alternative revenue streams (subscription video, social media advertising, tiered content strategies, other products, etc.) have found themselves extremely profitable with an all-digital publication. Most end up closing shop or integrating print just to balance the scale.

That said, to quote the president of Meredith’s National Media Group: “… print and digital; not print or digital. In today’s industry, balancing both is the key to success.

Data for print ROI has come a long way:

One of the biggest appeals of digital marketing and advertising is the ability to track information on a very precise level, or it used to be. With so many fake accounts and bots and other mechanisms, digital analytics related to sales or chain-of-purchase, or even just page views, is now incredibly hard to make accurate.

This does not change the fact that realistic data can be a huge asset. That is why so many publishers have worked to develop data algorithms that help prove ROI, track actual chain of purchase, and other vital details specific to print publications … and it is now a reality.

Bauer Media is one of the leaders pioneering print data analytics. Their software provides research data about advertisement and readership as a whole to help show advertisers how ads can help them meet their goals. The result is that Bauer makes ¾ of its revenue from print, and is thriving in today’s market.

Frequency and newsstand dates make a difference:

Digital publications, and online content producers in general suffer from online audiences expecting constant, consistent new stuff. As publishers strain to pump out content, they shift their focus from quality to quantity.

Print publications have a much lighter expectation for content, with weekly, monthly, quarterly, or even annual releases being perfectly normal. Not to mention, the slight variations in how often, and when it goes to actually producing the publication, can make a huge difference in dollars.

Vanity Fair is a great example of this. They combined December and January issues into a “holiday” issue, and also fused July and August to make a “summer” issue. This adjusted their schedule in the newsstands by just a few days, but meant saving a lot of money in printing costs. It also allowed them to have a flexible issue that they release in February related to the award show. It is not part of the normal print schedule, so it can fit in wherever is most affordable for their printer.

For digital publications, adjusting distribution makes little to no monetary change outside of the cost to produce content within a certain timeframe, and the staff needed to do it.

Further Information

For more detail on these facts about print and more, click here. You can also check out this article about 4 major reasons print is still around in a digital age.

If you would like more great content from Publication Printers and the Publication Printers Marketing Group, click here.

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2019 Strategy & Ideas from Top Publication Execs

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A recent Folio: article covered an incredibly powerful story for magazines regarding the 2019 year. The article features 9 media executives, all of whom have print publications, and details on the strategies they have in mind for the new year. Here are some of the general takeaways:

What did they learn from 2018:

The lessons and ideas these executives took from the previous year run the gamut. That said, there was one overarching theme for almost all of the executives: people are the most important aspect of keeping print and publishing a thriving industry.

2018 was a year where newspapers and magazines alike sought to lower overhead and drive more revenue. One of the big pushes was to decrease staff (the largest expense, on average), and increase advertisement sales. While this helped solve issues for some, overall it scared the industry. Content does not write itself, and quality content is hard to come by these days. Losing staff means more strain and work for those left, and when quantity is forced, quality suffers.

The executives all agreed that putting faith and energy and money into their staff can make the difference. To quote the original story: “the difference between success and failure will come down to the most important capital we have: people.”

What are they focusing on for 2019:

First and foremost, the 9 mentioned executives were all from businesses that avoided the heavy cutting of their staff. Thus, they were able to maintain quality content and look for new innovations for 2019.

So on top of optimizing the way they use their personnel, each executive has their own action plan for 2019. Some of the executives are planning to relaunch their brands to drive new engagement. Others developing new business models to expand their streams of revenue. Some are investing in new content solutions of entirely new product lines. What is important to note is that, across the board, all of them are looking at 2019 with positivity, and as an opportunity for growth and progress.

Along with positivity, they do also share a drive to expand beyond the pages of their publications, print or digital. Each of these executives is incorporating an idea that has been slowly adopted by the printing industry over the past decade: convergence. Simply put, specialize in one thing, but build an expertise and offering in complementary areas to your specialty. From events to storefronts to agencies, each executive and their publications are broadening what they do, to better serve both their audiences and other businesses.

Further Information

To read the original Folio: story, click here.
Executive Perspectives: How 9 Media Leaders are Strategizing for the New Year

If you would like more great content from Publication Printers and the Publication Printers Marketing Group, click here.

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Love Your Paper

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How upgrading paper can improve your bottom line.

Paper is the heart of a print publication. The moment someone picks up a book, a magazine, or any printed piece, even before they start reading, they feel it, and making that experience a priority can improve your bottom line and the amount of engagement you receive.

“I will never go to newsprint again… This is the perfect stock for us! And the fact that several ad agencies and other media outlets have frequently commented on the substantial improvement in our products adds to the testimonial of the paper stock.” – Gary Hibert | Owner/Publisher of Colorado Parent

There are numerous, powerful reasons why upgrading from newsprint to glossy paper can help grow your revenue, but here are two of the biggest:

Reason # 1 – Upgrade in Perceived Quality

By upgrading your paper, you are upgrading the quality of your publication. When compared side by side, your magazine will stand out above any other publication printed on newsprint. This improves the perception of your brand, increases the likelihood it will be picked up off of a rack, and therefore, more likely to be read by more people.

As an added advantage, research shows that people tend to hold on to glossy magazines for a longer period of time and share it with friends and family. Advertisers understand these differences and will pay more to advertise in a higher quality magazine!

Reason # 2 – Upgrade in Visual Quality

Full-color photos and graphic images really “pop” off the page on glossy paper. For example, if you are appealing to parents, whose worlds revolve around kids, when you think of kids, you think COLOR!

Color attracts attention! Many of your advertisers already know this and they design colorful ads for this very reason. Are you providing them the best vehicle for that ad to stand out? In the world of publishing, best vehicle = glossy paper and heatset printing.

Test it Out

We are equipped with a complete digital printing department. As a test this month, why don’t you take the files from your last issue and print a dozen sales copies on glossy paper? You can give them to your top advertisers to obtain feedback.

The idea of making a change like this can be intimidating and overwhelming. But do not worry! You don’t have to do it alone – we are here to help every step along the way.

Further Information

To learn more about the differences between various stocks and types of paper, click here. For more information on the benefits of coated and glossy paper, click here.

If you want more great content from Publication Printers, click here.

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USPS changes for 2019, updated

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Update (12/28/18)

The Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) officially approved the price alterations proposed by the United States Postal Service (USPS). The various changes to price, as well as to structure, postage statements, and technical specifications will all roll out starting January 27th of 2019.

The details of these changes are very specific, so the best way to learn about them is to attend the upcoming webinar being hosted by the USPS. Anyone can call in or join using the information provided below.

2019 USPS Price Increase Update Webinar

Date of Webinar: Tuesday, January 15th
Time of Webinar: 1pm Eastern Standard Time
Length of Webinar: 1 hour

You can attend the webinar by clicking here, entering your information, and clicking join. The webinar meeting number is 745 607 288.

You can also choose to simply call in and listen to the presentation by calling 1-855-860-7461 (US toll free) or 1-678-317-2063 (US). The teleconference code is 737 719 4840.

For further questions regarding the changes and these USPS information updates, please contact Cathy Scocco.

eDoc Version Support

Along with the new changes, the Postal Customer Council (PCC) is making minor updates to improve the eDoc support. On January 13, 2019, changes to the PostalOne! system will take place. For more information on what versions are going to be supported or not, you can read this document or visit the PCC website.

CAPS retiring, EPS migration required
USPS gave notice last June that they would  be retiring its longstanding payment processing system known as CAPS (Centralized Accounting Processing System) in 2019.

The deadline to migrate CAPS accounts over to EPS (Enterprise Payments System) is April 1st. After that day, support for CAPS accounts (except for limited circumstances) will no longer be provided.

To learn more about CAPS, EPS, and the reason behind the changes, click here. If you need help with setting up EPS, you can click here.
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Original Story

The United States Postal Service (USPS) recently submitted new prices to the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC). These proposed price changes, should they be approved, would take effect on January 27, 2019. The proposed price changes will raise Mailing Services product prices by approximately 2.5%. There would also be changes to Shipping Services pricing, though this would vary by product.

Cause for the changes can be greatly attributed to the current market conditions. The Governors of the Postal Service feel that these new rates will help keep USPS competitive, while also providing needed revenue for the postal service.

One of the largest impacts to the American public, which includes publishers, would be a change in stamp prices. A 5-cent increase to First-Class Mail Forever stamp has been proposed, from 50 cents to 55 cents, but the “additional ounce” pricing would be reduced to 15 cents. This means stamped letters over 2 ounces will have a higher stamp cost but have reduced shipping rates.

Further Information

For more information on the proposed USPS postal prices for 2019, click here. To see the slides from the price change proposal webinar from USPS, click here.

If you want more great content from Publication Printers, click here.

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Pantone Color Calls for Environmental Preservation

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Pantone has become a corporate icon thanks to its Color of the Year. For 2019, they decided to leverage that influence by using their color choice to discuss a greater topic than color: environmental preservation.

The VP of Pantone’s color consulting unit, Laurie Pressman, expressed that preserving nature was a hot topic, both in the sense that it is avoided heavily while also needing to be addressed. Pressman went on to explain that a coral-natured color was also a natural choice to represent this. Coral provides shelter and sustenance for marine life and also helps purify water. So they chose the color “Living Coral”.

This is not the first time that Pantone has dove into these waters. The Color of the Year for 2017 was “Greenery.” It represented a similar notion of environmental preservation and “going green.”

How this impacts the magazine industry:

Retail is the largest industry influences by the Pantone colors. Retail also makes up a significant amount of advertisements in the magazine industry. By proxy, that means a lot of Pantone colors in magazines. With Living Coral, that also means the message and general idea of environmental preservation will also pervade magazines.

Luckily, environmental preservation is huge in the magazine industry. From FSC paper to Print Releaf, there are numerous ways publishers can make their titles “green.” However, those efforts rarely have anything to do with editorial content or the ads within.

Having the ability to connect a publisher’s efforts with something as well known as a Pantone color provides branding opportunities. Leverage social media, editorial content, and other avenues of content distribution to piggyback on the topic and reap benefits that are normally much harder to achieve.

Details on “Living Coral:”

The Pantone Color Institute chooses a new color every year and has done so for over two decades. That color has become the color most likely to impact “product development and purchasing decisions” for the upcoming year. The 2019 Color of the Year is “Living Coral.”

Living Coral won, according to Pantone, because it “appears in our natural surroundings and at the same time, displays a lively presence within social media. Color is an equalizing lens through which we experience our natural and digital realities …”

Further Information

To learn more about the 2019 Pantone Color of the Year, click here.

If you want more great content from Publication Printers, click here.

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Facebook Instant Articles Further Improved to Help Publishers

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Facebook has had a lot of ups and downs when it comes to working with publishers. In the past year, everything from “fake news” catching algorithms to video metric misinformation has plagued the media giant. However, there have been some beneficial strides as well, and Instant Articles is the greatest of these.

Instant Articles are a way to directly connect professional editorial content to the Facebook newsfeed. The idea is to simplify the ease of access for readers to high-quality content. Content providers include magazines, newspapers, and other professional content producers. Instant Articles provide another means to monetize Facebook by providing subscription models and advertising capabilities as well.

The idea behind Instant Articles was always to help content producers reach readers where they actually consume content, social media. For that reason, each time Instant Articles are optimized, it is either for the improvement of access to content or to make providing content easier.

The most recent improvements to Instant Articles include cutting down development time for publishers, making it easier to integrate with the subscription/paywall system, and a call-to-action screen to urge readers to follow a publisher on Facebook. Future improvements include the ability to target posts specifically to subscribers, integrate existing website subscriber lists, and to adjust the content distribution algorithm for continued improvement of reach to ideal readerships.

It is important to remember that social media channels exist for the benefit of the end user, the readership. That means Facebook will implement changes to improve the user experience at the expense of helping publishers and other organizations. Therefore, publishers need to be wary and protect their brands. It is best to consult with a social media professional who specializes in working with publishers.

Further Information

To learn more about what Instant Articles are, click hereTo see more information on the recent updates to Facebook Instant Articles, click here.

If you want more great content from Publication Printers, click here.

Image courtesy of Facebook Instant Articles
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Add the Ad that Counts: Cover Wraps

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The decline of ad revenue is one of the magazine industry’s greatest concerns. It is also one of the reasons that the whole “print is dead” concept came about; if you are not making ad dollars, and subscriptions are harder to come by, how does a magazine make money?

The answer to the question lies in resolving a huge industry assumption. Traditional ad dollars, meaning the sale of ad spaces in a magazine, are lower. They are not gone. Further, internal ads are not the only ads available for a print magazine. Cover wraps, for example, are a great alternative, and also one of the few sources of print advertising revenue that has increased in recent years.

What is a cover wrap?

Cover wraps differ from traditional magazine ads, so not everyone knows what a cover wrap is. Think of it as a 4-page cover, completely composed of ads, that runs over the actual cover. For saddle-stitch magazines, this means a 4-page signature placed on top of the regular cover. For perfect bound magazines, the cover would be the cover and spine, and the “real” cover would be two inserts placed inside of the cover wrap.

In most cases, a single advertiser purchases the whole 4-page wrap, or two advertisers split the wrap. In the case of two buyers, one usually buys the front and cover, the other buys the back cover.

There is also the option for a front-only cover wrap, where an additional sheet, sometimes made from a different paper, is placed on top of the front cover. This is more complicated to produce, but still a viable option.

Why are cover wraps working when other ads are not?

The first thing to address is that print ads are working, just not as well as they used to. Cover wraps happen to be performing well at this time, more so than other print ads. With that said, why are they working when other print ads are not?

  1. Not every print for an issue needs a cover wrap. A publisher can sell a cover to a specific segment of the readership. Publishers can sell multiple cover wraps for the same print issue. If an advertiser wants to target a specific list within a readership, that is a premium opportunity. Sell it as such.
  2. A magazine’s value to the reader is not its ads, but its content. So rather than disrupting the reader, cover wraps immediately affiliate the ad with the content, and give the reader the chance to experience the ad prior to consuming the content. This also affiliates the ad with the brand more than an internal ad, because of the magazine branding and cover page elements, and almost hides the ad in the form of editorial content.
  3. They can be used for self-promotion. By directly affiliating with the content and brand of the magazine, the chance of engagement is much higher. Using cover wraps for subscription renewals, corporate updates, or to promote the release of new titles through existing titles are all functional options.
  4. Cover wraps can be an alternative to an internal ad, or an upsell opportunity. If an advertiser is already buying a cover ad, it is easier to sell a discounted internal ad to them as well. It may not be as large of margins, but selling two ads helps offset that.
  5. An advertiser can run a campaign across multiple publications at once using cover wraps. Advertisers want the most bang for their buck, so being able to generate one main campaign cover wrap, and work with multiple titles would allow them to run the same ad to multiple markets and readerships at the same time.

What are the limitations of cover wraps?

Cover wraps are additional pages being added to a publication. Regardless of how many issues include a cover wrap, there are additional print costs associated with cover wraps. The weight of each print with a cover wrap also increases, thus increasing shipping costs. The ads sold in a cover wraps often offset these costs, but the publisher needs to do research and price the ads appropriately to ensure an ROI.

Branding also comes into play. Even though there is still a real cover underneath the cover wrap, what readers see first is the wrap. A magazine’s brand must be strong enough to ensure the reader knows, even with the ad on the cover, what magazine it is. The wrap is unsuccessful otherwise, and hurt the magazine’s brand in general.

Lastly, cover wraps, when used for targeted segments of a readership, reach only general groups. Digital advertising gives advertisers the means to define incredibly specific audiences, like “farm owners in Indiana with a preference for comic books.” In comparison to those digital audiences, print audiences target generic groups. That applies to the struggles of print versus digital advertising in general though, not just cover wraps.

Further Information

To learn more about cover wraps, click hereTo see more information on functions and examples of cover wraps, click here.

If you want more great content from Publication Printers, click here.

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ColoradoBiz names PPC 26th Top Private Business in Colorado

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PPC named 26th in ColoradoBiz top 250 private companies

PPC named 26th in ColoradoBiz top 250 private companies

ColoradoBiz has been Colorado’s premier business magazine for over 33 years, featuring new and information relevant to the entire state’s business community. Their goal is to highlight people, products, and companies that impact today’s and tomorrow’s economy for Colorado. As a part of this, they publish an annual list of the top 250 private businesses in the state. They just released their 2018 list earlier in November.

 

This year, Publication Printers Corp. ranked 26th on the list, a fantastic feat representing our influence on our local community. It also greatly represents our growth as a company. Last year (2017), we ranked 35th. The approximately 22% growth rate between then and now led to that 9-spot leap. Publication Printers is also the highest ranked printer in the state of Colorado, based on the list.

Further Information

To learn more about ColoradoBiz, click hereTo see the full list of the ColoradoBiz top 250 private businesses in Colorado, click here.

If you want more great content from Publication Printers, click here.

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Freight’s Impact on Delivery

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The United States relies heavily on trucking and freight to deliver any number of goods across the country, including magazines and other print publications. For this reason, the current shortage of drivers – exceeding 50,000 – is heavily impacting the delivery timelines and costs of publishers nationwide.

According to the American Trucking Association, truck companies are working to increase driver pay to make the job more appealing, but increasing pay will likely result in further increases in shipping costs.

Can Electric Cars Save the Freight Industry?

Electric car companies like Tesla see an opportunity and are developing driverless trucks. This would resolve two longstanding issues with trucking: costs and timelines.

First, without the need for drivers, the costs of trucking would decrease substantially, as around 43% of trucking operational costs is driver compensation, according to the American Transportation Research Institute.

Second, no drivers means no time limitations on driving. Trucking would no longer be bound by 8 hour driving days, so delivery times could be hastened significantly. All this said, driverless trucks are years away from implementation, and the shortage of drivers is only set to increase.

Ways to Help Offset Costs

Due to this, publishers are looking for ways to cut costs. The best way to do this: talk to the printer of your publication. Altering page counts, paper, and adjusting print schedules can be options to save money. Each printer has specific preferences, so talk to them about what fits them best.

Further Information

To learn more about the current lack of truck drivers, click here. For more information on the impact of freight on the magazine industry, click here.

If you want more great content from Publication Printers, click here.

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Why Online Editions Matter!

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Online editions are not just a virtual version of your print publication. They are a major opportunity for advertising dollars and subscription profits, and they also provide your audience with the access they expect. Print is and should be the focus for niche publishers, but not making use of online editions is the same as leaving blank ad spaces in the print; it is losing money you should make.

Sidenote about online editions and publishing content online

Before going into more, there is a huge point that needs to be made clear. Online editions and posting your content as unique articles on a website are not mutually exclusive. In fact, doing both is highly recommended. This is because online editions are their own entity, in the same way the printed publication is a standalone entity. All the contents, the advertising, and everything related to monetizing it is inside the online edition. When you take individual content out of the print or online edition and publish it on a website, that too becomes its own entity, which can have completely different advertisements and audiences. The more forms of distribution you have of the same information, the more audiences you can develop and the more ad spaces you have to leverage.

Now to online editions!

It is like having two publications instead of one

Your print publication has a specific circulation and distribution. You print it, organize it by who it goes to or where it needs to go, it gets shipped, and then it arrives. At that point, people read it and enjoy it and you have done your job. The online edition offers the same. The only difference is that the “who” the circulation goes to and the “distribution” to that circulation are different.

The who for an online edition can have the same demographic and geographic audience as the print, but the difference is where they are looking for content. Print readers want print. Some may also enjoy the digital option, but most seek the print for a reason; they prefer it. That means that, if you are only doing a print publication, you are missing half of your ideal audience. Having an online edition, even if it is 100% identical to the print, will immediately increase your circulation and help you reach even more of your ideal audience.

Also, online editions do not have to be carbon -copies of their printed counterparts. Sure, they will likely share a lot of editorials. They will likely share a cover. Even the non-editorial content, like an editor’s note or house ad, will likely be the same. However, you can run different covers (which you can charge for), different internal ads, and even unique content specific to either the online edition or the print. Essentially, if you want, you can have two publications, each distributed on a different medium, that share enough to make it easy on the publisher, but differ enough that you can sell them as unique from one another.

Start selling subscriptions without changing the “free print” concept

At the end of the day, publishers are publishing for two reasons: to inform the audience, and to make money. The content takes care of the informing part, so that just leaves the making money part. Advertisements are the most functional and lucrative option, but subscriptions are equally as viable. Now that does not mean they will replace ads as the means to keep a publication afloat, but it does mean they can pad the bottom line. The problem is that with the internet and the demand for content by all audiences, many publishers decided to rely on ads alone, and give away the publication for free.

Problem is not entirely the right word. There is nothing wrong with a publication that does not charge a circulation. However, it does mean not making money when you could be. Also, once you give it away for free, it becomes very difficult to shift to charging for it down the road … at least on the same medium. As stated earlier, print and online editions of a publication are separate entities. One is a physical commodity with content “X.” The other is a virtual commodity with content “Y.” If you make them differ just enough, or you provide uniqueness in the form of medium-specific content or covers or ads, they can be “sold” as different publications.

If the print is free to receive, keep it that way. For the luxury of accessing the content through an online edition, charge a subscription or membership registration fee. Or create an online edition application for mobile use and charge for it. Either option allows you to monetize the publication without jeopardizing a current situation where a publication is free.

Creating an online edition is incredibly easy

Two of the biggest concerns for a publisher are time and money. With all the time and money focused on the print, how can you dedicate more towards an online edition? The first reason to do so is profits. You spend money to make money, and investing in an online edition can bring in profits. You just need to make sure you approach it correctly. That is where time is a factor. Even with a majority, if not all of the online edition, being shared with the print publication, it takes time to upload and edit and moderate and all the other factors.

So take it out-of-house. There are any number of softwares that make creating an online edition easy. Most offer a hands-on package where you provide the final file, and they handle the rest. In fact, almost all commercial magazine printers have partnerships with an online editing software. This means you can get your print and online editions from the same people, and often get a discount on one by also doing the other. Publication Printers Corp. has an entire team that handles digital editions and handles the labor for you.

If you don’t have online editions yet, ask yourself these questions. Why am I passing up the opportunity for easy profits? Do I want to reach my entire niche audience, not just the print-readers? Who do I already work with that can do it for me?

Further Information

To learn more about getting value out of your online editions, click here.

If you want more great content from Publication Printers, click here.

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