Decline of Print Advertising and the Rise of Digital Media – What to do?

 In Digital Media

As marketers’ investments in print advertising continue their steep decline, experts explain the medium’s relevance in the digital age

Last year was another rough one for newspaper and magazine publishers. In 2014, 91 U.S.- and Canada-based magazines ceased publication, up from 51 closures in 2013, while stalwarts like the U.S. political magazine National Journal​ decreased their issue frequency. On the newspaper end, total ad revenue in 2013 was 49% lower than it had been a decade earlier, according to the “State of the News Media 2014” study by the Pew Research Center, and Tribune Co. is estimated to have cut 700 jobs in 2013 alone. Fearing for the worst, many publishers are raising subscription costs in an attempt to offset ad revenue declines, investing in flashier digital delivery platforms in order to offer advertisers multichannel bundle opportunities, or launching annual events in the hopes of generating enough money via registrations and sponsorships to sustain a year’s worth of magazine production costs.

But print isn’t dead, experts say. Print circulations are down, but in many cases, that means that publications’ readership has been culled to only the most engaged, which is a desirable trait, from an advertising standpoint. The primary challenge with print is demonstrating the ads’ effectiveness, but experts argue that there’s a solution. 

“Print is interesting because it actually provokes people to read it,” says Britt Fero, executive vice president and head of strategy in the Seattle office of New York-based ad agency Publicis. “Just buying it or getting it in the mail provokes the reader to engage in a way that digital doesn’t. If you have time to read a magazine, then you’re going to really engage with the ads in there. Print ads should inspire you to look at them even longer.”

The Pros of ​Print

“Print is still a top-of-funnel medium,” says Andy Blau, senior vice president of finance and advertising at New York-based magazine publisher Time Inc. “It’s really for establishing brand worthiness in the marketplace, for establishing the value of the brand, for communicating very broadly, with broad reach, to the right target audience. It’s really pure brand advertising. And digital tries to do some of that, but it’s still much more of a direct response. People still measure digital with click-throughs and conversion rates, and you can’t necessarily maintain marketing of a brand through digital alone. Print advertising is a very efficient way of establishing a brand identity and for communicating that to the target market.”​

Story bMolly Soat of Marketing News

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