It would be a grave mistake to follow the herd in assuming that ‘print advertising is dead’. Certainly, it lost substantial ground to digital in terms of corporate spending, but print advertising is managing to revive and refresh itself so that it continues to be a very effective and relevant advertising pathway, both in its own right and as a boost to digital and television campaigns.
Print has better return on spend than TV
Consider this ‘amazing fact’ from the 2016/17 Magazine Media Factbook, published by the US based Magazine Publishers Association. According to the Factbook, magazines show the highest return on advertising spend by far. This is compared to TV, mobile advertising and even the current hero of web advertising – digital video.
The same Factbook points out that advertising in print yields greater increases in brand awareness, brand favourability and purchase intent than online or TV advertising. The better performance of print is stark. The Factbook records 8% increase in brand awareness from print advertising compared to only 4% from online advertising and 5% from TV.
Print is often cheaper and more targeted than digital
So why is it that print advertising is still so successful?
The first thing to consider, which often comes as a shock to many digital marketers, is that targeted digital ad spending is expensive and print is often cheaper than pay per click advertising. Advertising on high demand websites or facebook pages can be expensive and is seldom as targeted as print advertising in specialty and niche print magazines.
Print may not be as portable as online media, but it is more personable – and that makes a world of difference. Online media can lack the flexibility of reaching specific demographics. With research, a company can pick print publications and locations that are seen and engaged with by their target demographic on a daily basis. Certain people visit certain places, and these places are easily accessed by print media targeting, such as commuter advertising on trains and buses, school holiday deals on billboards near large schools, business cards for health and beauty in gyms and organic grocers, over 50s magazines in pharmacies…the list goes on.
When it is done right, print advertising can also enhance online media and it can be used as a complementary system to reinforce digital and electronic forms of advertising. Effectively used, print media can be used to overcome some of the limitations of digital advertising.
Print does not suffer from click fraud or ad blocking!
Click fraud, low viewability, overburdened markets, ad blocking, and simple viewer disregard are headaches that all digital advertisers face. Print advertising cannot be clicked, closed or swiped past, instead it remains in the peripheral vision of a consumer and sits consistently within the attention of its target market.
Many marketers are reappraising print advertising as a method that is immune to the problems faced by digital media. It has become a revived dynamic that lends credibility to brands and products. Print ads exist in the physical space of a consumer, not online. Magazines in waiting rooms, newspapers, posters, pamphlets, pens, magnets, and flyers exist in day-to-day life, catching a consumer’s eye even after they have put down their phone or run out of battery on their tablet.
Whilst online approaches have the widest reach, they are often spray blasts aimed at reaching the most people rather than the right people. As much as 56% of online advertising is not seen by its intended audience. By combining print and media, a company is able to rectify this and ensure that their targets are actually reachable.
Is the pendulum still swinging?
Ironically, as the pendulum has swung towards digital, print advertising is a little bit of a rarity and because it is rare, consumers pay it more attention than they do to digital advertising. In many ways, print advertising is perceived as upmarket and requiring more creative and serious input compared to digital.
Print readers are also more focused than people online. This makes sense – online you can have a dozen tabs open, be checking your Facebook and also chat to six different people on Skype, all at the same time! You can’t do this with a magazine and therefore the focus on individual advertisements is several times more than online.
On top of this, pairing print with online advertisement maximizes response rates. If a company moves some of its budget from online media toward print media, it may receive a higher return. If a company wishes to activate consumer behavior, then the power of a click is important but the power of print is more pliable. Linking the two creates an effective circle of media that not only targets effectively but prompts response on a higher level.
Print advertising is well and truly alive. When used properly to its greatest extent, print can complement and empower online advertising to ensure that spending stays down while consumption stays buoyant.