The media update team takes a look at the contentious battle of ‘print versus digital’ to find out why advertisers still invest in print.

Since the dawn of digital media, advertisers thought that new was best, so they advertised all over these platforms. The same thing happened with social media. However, success stats are very low for these types of adverts.

Here are three reasons why advertisers still believe in the power of print:

1. Print has staying power

One of print's major advantages over digital is its staying power. An advert printed in a magazine will stay alive for as long as the reader possesses the publication.

For what it lacks in the potential for instant response, it makes up for in longevity and tactile shareability. Readers are more inclined to keep stacks of magazines and newspapers right in their homes, but they don’t generally save a news story or magazine they read online.

Although it’s easy to share an online ad at the click of a button, most advertisers nowadays try to keep their ads short in order to cater to consumers’ short attention spans. This makes ads online fleeting, and fast, and thus less likely to be memorable.

Advertisers online also have the pitfall of having to deal with ad blockers, whereas print readers choose to view the content that they have purchased/obtained and have no choice but to view the ads contained within the newspaper or magazine.

Another point to consider in terms of staying power is reader trust. This trust comes from a source of reliability and knowing where the content comes from. The editors’ and writers’ names — and even images — are listed in magazines and newspapers. The content is consistent, and the reader knows that they will always receive the weekly/monthly/quarterly edition of their print publication, without fail.

As Martha Steward Living’s editor-in-chief said in an interview with Folio:  “It takes a village to help maintain print’s integrity and the power of the platform. But it is unparalleled when it comes to reader trust, and we need to keep that.”

And with the growing issue of #FakeNews online, reader trust is a major commodity. When readers see something online, their first port of call is to question its source and authenticity. When it comes to print, this does not happen.

2. Print has a sense of exclusivity

Due to the amount of time it takes to produce a print publication, and the costs thereof, print publications are viewed as more exclusive than online content. Why? The fact that a publishing house has gone to the trouble of printing the content — often on high-quality, expensive paper — means that the content is worth something. Keep in mind that most printed content is bought by readers — so they think it’s worth something too!

Online content, on the other hand, is free to access (bar some paid-for content sites) and readily available. And readers can find the same news from the various sources of online publishers. This makes an exclusive article from, say, GQ Magazine, a bit more ‘valuable’ in the eyes of the reader.

Beyond the exclusivity of the article, there’s also the exclusivity of the audience. Print newspapers and magazines have built up a loyal and niche audience and therefore know what product-related adverts to place in each feature.

Consider COSMOPOLITAN magazine as an example:

Readers of this magazine are predominantly female, between the ages of 18 and 34 and are employed. It’s no surprise then that most readers who pick up a COSMOPOLITAN will find various coupons for beauty products (skincare), clothing as well as an occasional gift (such as lipgloss or a diary). It’s a bit difficult to offer free samples online, isn’t it?

Furthermore, the print ads contained within the publication are targeted specifically for these women — such as clothing ads for the 'working woman'.

3. Print ads are more memorable than digital ones

Readers generally remember a print ad better than they do a digital one, according to a study done by Temple University’s Center for Neural Decision Making.

The study asked participants to view the same combination of ads on two occasions over a two-week period.

The results revealed that “the participants who had seen advertisements in only one format (whether twice in print or twice in digital, as opposed to one of each) were best at recalling the ads and their content”.

It also showed that out of the two formats that were shown twice, the physical format, print, saw participants' brains associating with the ad with higher memory.

“Readers generally remember a print ad better than they do a digital one.”
“The primary finding for us was that sequencing, the order in which a test subject saw the ads, does not seem to matter as much as the presence of a physical component,” said Dr Angelika Dimoka, associate professor of Marketing and Management Information Systems.

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While many people continue to say that ‘print is dead’, find out why we think it isn’t by reading our article, Print versus digital: Four reasons why print is still around.