Commentary

Print Marketing: Friend Or Foe Of Digital?

It’s no secret that print started dropping down the marketing pecking order when digital began to gather momentum. But there is a growing school of thought that the speed at which marketers abandoned print was far too short-sighted. Now, marketers are combining print and digital to deliver campaigns that create a genuine connection and reach people where and how they want to be reached.

Digital isn’t always the answer

Despite the common misconception that print is dead, print has several advantages over digital.

Hoosier Lottery is one business that has recognized this. The Indiana-based company includes billboards in 50% of its marketing campaigns. Why?

The company needs to be able to generate instant awareness when it releases a new product -- and there’s nothing like a giant printed sign to do this. The company’s lottery tickets can be purchased at major retailers, in locations that usually require a car journey. So, the use of billboards in this scenario enables Hoosier Lottery to connect with potential customers while driving in their cars, and encourages them to purchase its products.

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Print and digital: when two become one

Another brand that has embraced print’s resurgence is retail giant Amazon,  which recently introduced a printed Christmas toy catalog. This may be dancing on the grave of Toys R Us but, crucially, it recognizes the joy of folding over the pages when marking your Christmas wish list -- something that can never be replicated in the same way online.

As well as playing to a shopper’s love of nostalgia, Amazon’s catalog is a brilliant example of print and digital working hand in hand. Readers can browse the catalog, scan a product’s barcode with their smartphone, and then purchase it on Amazon’s website -- proof that offline activity can drive people online to the point of conversion. This is also achieved by Amazon choosing not to reveal product prices in the catalog, allowing them to maintain its reputation of competitive pricing, and forcing the reader to visit Amazon’s website if they want to browse further or add items to their basket.

Finger in the air or fully accountable?

Most marketers will say they believe print works, but they’re nervous to invest because it isn’t 100% measurable. However, there has been a significant backlash against digital metrics in recent years. For example, Comscore revealed that 54% of online display ads are not being seen by anyone. And when Facebook admitted that it grossly exaggerated the amount of time spent watching videos, can we really trust the numbers digital provides? This has helped marketers reassess their view on print measurement.

Print was taken from under the spotlight when digital took center stage, but it appears that the next era of marketing will see the two media working together side by side. Marketers are starting to become more confident when choosing which channel to adopt for their campaigns, prioritizing which will work best for their target audience. I’m sure 2019 will see more of this trend.

1 comment about "Print Marketing: Friend Or Foe Of Digital?".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, December 12, 2018 at 4:30 p.m.

    I'm all for magazines to stage a belated comeback in the ad revenue arena but at present, I see no meaningful upsurge in this direction for a variety of reasons---but mainly, the need to fund higher TV CPMs. Something must go as ad budgets are not surging by leaps and bounds these days. So, sadly, its magazines that are largely paying the price. I must add that while out-of-home and radio proponents are making a visible effort to promote their media, one sees very little of this from magazines. One must ask ---why?

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