Magazine Article


Sound Off: QDPC Shifts Into High Gear
Are You on the List?

If you’re not already familiar with PMA’s Qualified Digital Processing Center (QDPC) program, then shame on us. If you’re not signing up to be a QDPC after reading this, then shame on you. If you’re already onboard with the QDPC program, hang on for one thrilling ride.

The QDPC program was started by PMA in 2003 to help create consumer awareness of ways they could make “real photo” prints from digital camera files, including at retail, at home, and via online printing. The initial response was overwhelming. PMA announced the QDPC program to the world in November 2003. By PMA 2004, we had registered over 20,000 individual retail locations that were able to accept digital media in various formats and produce a photo print. In less than three months, PMA signed up 20,000 stores and put “We Print Digital” stickers in their windows. We figured we must have something here.

Phase II of this program centered around PMA creating a consumer website that helped “Jennifer,” the Gen-X soccer mom, with all the ways she could handle her digital memories—with the primary focus being on making prints. She could learn how to take better digital pictures, learn how to store and organize her memories, and best of all, search for a photo lab close to her house. When she typed in her zip code, up popped a list of all the QDPC retailers within close proximity to her house, along with a menu of their capabilities and a link to their websites for uploading (if available).

The site,, was promoted by PMA through in-flight presentations on Delta and American Airlines during the holiday selling season, as well as through promotional appearances on local and national morning shows throughout the country.

At the same time, PMA strengthened its partnership with PMDA, the PhotoImaging Manufacturers and Distributors Association, with support for the consumer website This site garners serious consumer media and web traffic and has relationships with some of the biggest consumer press outlets, including The Associated Press, The Washington Post, and The Miami Herald. Take Great Pictures now has approximately 50,000 unique visitors a month. Through this partnership, a prominent “Find a Photo Lab” link is now featured on the Take Great Pictures home page, which accesses the QDPC database.

So now, all the QDPC labs are online and exposed to the world in a pretty big way, but we are still relying on the consumer to go to the website and find a local retailer to make prints. In reality, this doesn’t happen very often. Consumers are more likely to use features right within the menu system of a device or program they’re working in.

The Next Evolution of QDPC

Realizing that awareness and ease of use are paramount to driving the printing of digital images to retailers, PMA makes this a top priority for its members. In fact, in June of this year, PMA hosted a meeting of executives, including leading retailers, wireless carriers, online photofinishers, and manufacturers, to discuss ways to come together to promote digital photo printing. At this meeting, Jeff Manning, one of the architects of the famous “Got Milk” campaign, described marketing photo printing as a category. Since then, a new group was formed to study the feasibility of an industry campaign as an effective means to increase digital photo printing. (Stay tuned—Phase I of this project will be completed at the end of October 2006.)

In keeping with the theme of making it easier for consumers to connect to QDPC retailers, PMA is currently working on embedding the “Find a Photo Lab” feature right into the menus of cameraphones and major photo imaging software to allow consumers to select a QDPC lab right from the print wizard. With this added ease of use, and being connected to literally millions of users worldwide, QDPC members suddenly have real potential for new business they wouldn’t have had otherwise.

PMA plans to have some major announcements by PMA ‘07, and all the QDPC retailers onboard will have something to celebrate. I would like to personally encourage you to sign up to be a QDPC today, so you don’t miss a single new customer.

Oh, and the cost to become a QDPC retailer? $0 for PMA members.

Go to and sign up today, or call the PMA Education Department at 800-762-9287.