Does Digital’s Difficult Year Mark a Turning Point for Print?

Sendt av: Ulbe Jelluma 11/10/2017

Digital advertising continues to drive global growth, but with the world’s most senior marketers urging the channel to “grow up” in 2017 the time is ripe for print media to underline its own audience and engagement credentials. 

Print is a proven important component of any media plan, effective on its own – and as part of a wider media plan, whereby it actively enhances the ROI of TV or online in the mix.

Yet worldwide digital ad spending will reach $223.74 billion in 2017, and represent 38.8% of total paid media outlays, according to research from eMarketer, while print continues to decline. 

However, senior marketers are demanding better metrics and more transparency, questioning the effectiveness of digital media and even wondering if they have over-invested at the expense of other mediums.

Procter & Gamble’s chief marketer Marc Pritchard has bemoaned “substantial waste in a fraudulent media supply chain”. “The reality is that in 2017 the bloom came off the rose for digital media,” said the P&G CMO at DMexco. “As little as 25% of the money spent in digital media actually made it to consumers.

But digital is now a $200bn industry. We have to stop giving digital media a pass and insist it grow up.”

Sir Martin Sorrell, chief executive of ad and media company WPP, also suggests that clients are looking at their overall media mix and questioning whether they have “over-invested” in some new media alternatives at the expense of established mediums. 

At the Festival of Media in London last week Lidl’s head of media Sam Gaunt said the marketing industry was “guilty of overselling programmatic” - although he concedes it is the “future” of media spend - and that the brand gets much better ROI from press, radio and TV advertising. 

Research even suggests that print advertising can boost the wider ROI of a multimedia campaign. The recent Food Brand Trusts study conducted by Ipsos in France, for instance, shows that print magazines have the power to raise trust and brand preference of food companies by up to 7 percentage points. Of particular note is the sense of quality perception, feelings of relevance and proximity that print uniquely conveys. 

The same is true of newspapers: UK trade body Newsworks estimates that newspapers make TV twice as effective and online display four times more effective. Adding newspapers to an automotive campaign increases effectiveness by 71%, it says, and by 5.7 times for a finance campaign. And neuroscience research conducted by TrueImpact for Canada post shows that paper-based content and ads offer special advantages in connecting with people’s brains over electronic media. 

Publishers are also learning from digital media and platforms to strengthen their own offerings offline and using technology to link print and online initiatives that benefit the reader. For Forbes’ Centennial Issue it incorporated Artificial Intelligence on the cover of the magazine – the first to do so. 

The special issue cover allows readers to interact with the cover subject, Warren Buffett, via a Siri-like AI function hosted on a special microsite. The platform includes more than 30 unique responses from Buffett, which are triggered based on the reader’s questions.

Media owners and marketers alike are excited by the possibilities that machine-learning will bring though it remains to be seen how it will ultimately affect print media. However, its ability to trawl through and continually improve on increased data publishers are gathering can only increase print’s engagement and accountability. It may even be able to help advertisers craft ever more effective ads which, when coupled with print’s innate ability to capture attention can only be a win-win.