Is print advertising still worth the time and budget in 2020? Eight marketing experts provide the answers your brand needs.
When was the last time you picked up a newspaper or a magazine? The figures show that newspaper sales drop year-on-year, with some big names like The Financial Times dropping as much as 12%. With so many online publications offering free news, it’s possible to access this necessary information on all of our devices. Great for us but what does this mean for print advertising?
Once, printed advertising brought big ROI for companies and firms in various industries. But as the sale of printed publications drops, many marketers are starting to question whether these ads are still relevant.
Before you completely turn your back on print advertising, check out what the marketers still playing the game have to say.
Aodhan MacCathmhaoil from waster.com.au explained their brand’s experience with taking out a printed ad:
“We spend 95% of our marketing on online and content marketing. We tried one print ad - to test if it was good for us. We spent $20k running an ad for 13 weeks in a city newspaper. In the entire time, we had only one inquiry based on the advert. Thankfully - the sale we got paid for the ad - but it was lucky.”
With results like this, it makes sense that companies are funneling their cash into online and digital marketing instead. But there are ways you can minimize that risk, though. One is by being picky about the publications in which you run your ads. For most marketers, this means targeting trade publications.
Kara de Schot, Creative Director at Pixel Co-Creative & Marketing, explains her brand’s tactic:
“We specifically select trade or specialist publications where we have a good idea that the target readership is a good fit. As it's harder to measure 'views' and 'clicks' on traditional advertising, we do have unique calls-to-action on each publication so we can measure effectiveness to a certain degree.”
It makes sense to target these publications as most B2B and B2C professionals still read their industry mag.
Stan Tan from Selby’s backs this up:
“Our organization still receives our industry trade magazines every month and we still read it.”
He also agrees that a brand needs to weigh up the cost involved before they do send an ad to print:
“It comes down to the cost per readership. In the digital world, we call it CPM or cost per one thousand impressions. For example, a $10 CPM means for $10 you can reach 1,000 people. Get the data on the publication's readership and the cost to advertise then compare that to advertising on a website. You can use Google Display Network to find out the cost to advertise on specific websites.”
Cost isn’t the only factor to weigh up while considering print advertising. Don’t forget to explore the demographics you intend to target. Janette Baker, Digital Marketing Specialist and owner of Generate Marketing told us:
“The demographics for print media is getting older generally, and it is harder to really gauge or measure the response to the advert you run. For a startup, where often you want to sell through a direct response from the target audience, it is vital to target the right audience and demographic—and I am not certain if this really exists anymore for print media.
As with any marketing endeavors, it's important to be able to track the ROI. So that you know whether the money spent delivered the desired outcome. Print ads may send potential customers to your website but even when looking at your web analytics you will be unable to track whether they can from the print ad. This is why it's a great idea to have a coupon code and offer specific to each print ad. That way, you can track conversions and analyze the effectiveness of your advertising dollars spent."
Someone else who agrees that the age of your target audience could be the decisive factor for print advertising is Jakub Kliszczak, a marketing specialist at Channels:
“Print publications exist because there's still a viable group of people who buy them. This group (as every other group) of customers has specific characteristics. Because they enjoy reading a newspaper, they are also likely to purchase products through the phone which is oftentimes used in print ads. Just like Gen Zers are used to shopping online, newspaper readers are fine dialing the phone number and ordering a product from an ad. So, the whole 'whether marketers should be utilizing print ads' question depends on who you serve and where your target audience is.”
“I believe running ads in print can be very good for brands wanting to portray themselves as a leader in their given industry. In terms of short term ROI, it isn't the best idea but can be a great branding exercise.
"My background is Digital Marketing in the Machinery and Construction industry. We experienced that people are using print media much much less to actually make the final decision to put in a request for a quote and eventually purchase the machine. Most buyers will just use Machinery Trader websites to request more information. However, we have found that when you do take yourself out of these industry-specific magazines you do get people asking ‘is X Machinery Company still around?’ We think these magazines are best for branding and staying in relevant magazines as an industry leader. I would still highly suggest moving most of your budget towards digital media: Google Ads, Facebook, and industry-specific website plans.”
For some brands, supplementing their main digital and social marketing strategies with strategic printed ads can help aid their reputation within the industry.
Jennifer, Editor at Etia.com, agrees that printed ads can bring great rewards for a brand’s credibility:
“We think that just because the entire world has moved online, print advertising is dead and buried. But it is far from the truth. In fact, advertisers who make print a part of their marketing mix have the potential to significantly increase their response rates. Why? Because of credibility. Print publications consistently offer readers high-quality, reliable content that develops credibility, and advertisers can easily leverage this credibility. This makes your ads much more trustworthy, which generates leads and sales more easily. An MRI Survey of the American Consumer found that “influentials,” those consumers who can sway other consumers, are influenced by print ads, with 51% being influenced by magazines and 53% influenced by newspapers. Print media also benefits from not being a form of “interruption marketing,” or a brazen interruption that occurs while the consumer is trying to digest information. TV commercials, on the other hand, are a form of interruption marketing; so are banner ads on the web.”
Not everyone in the world is completely sold on the idea of still pursuing print adverts, though. John from Elinz tells how his brand has experienced a mixed bag of results:
“We've advertised with a couple of publications last year, one of which was print and the other digital. Digital worked best as we could track it, and there's longevity as long as the article with our mention/link stayed on their website, on top of getting exposure via the digital publication.
"Traditional often sticks to the bigger brands with bigger budgets. If you're running a small to mid-sized company, be prepared with a sizable budget; even so, you won't be able to track how it affects your sales directly, especially with the seasonal fluctuations within the market.
"However, we've seen an influx in traffic from some digital publications, which led to some very high periods of traffic and conversions in the months they were released.
"Print, as some would say, is a dying media. Not a lot of people subscribe or purchase publications except of course for the bigger brands such as established newspapers and magazines. Even so, with the cost associated, it could still be a complete win-or-loss type of situation.”
So, for some smaller and medium-sized brands, it could be best to stick to digital ads. As many of these marketing experts told us, start-ups should steer clear of print advertising altogether as it often requires a huge budget.
If you do decide to go to print with an ad, it’s important to execute it well. It needs to look good and get your message across in an instant. Otherwise, you could stand to waste your whole print budget as few readers will take any notice.
Maksym Babych, CEO at Spdload, talked us through designing an eye-catching printed ad:
“Place of images and graphics on the left. When compiling an ad, the spatial positioning of images and text must be taken into account. These elements must match the anatomical features of your vision.
The look of the model is directed towards CTA. People tend to follow the gaze of others. This trait helped our ancestors more quickly detect threats, and evolution rooted this ability in our tonsils. You can use this instinct in your advertising campaigns. If your ad contains images of people, target them on your CTA. So you will attract more attention to this area.
Increase the size of words that convey emotions. The larger the font, the more intense emotions it evokes. This is because, according to the theory of evolution, our ancestors judged a potential threat based on their assumptions about its size.
If the images occupy most of the advertisement, then you should put branded elements on the right. This proposal is due to the hypothesis of the distribution and balance of activity of the cerebral hemispheres. If the image is large, then people will begin to process the ad primarily in the right hemisphere, while the left will be less activated.”
At the end of the day, it’s up to each brand to decide whether print advertising is the right move for them. There is a lot that success will depend on, from the industry and niche the brand inhabits to their budget and target audience. But, as the marketing experts have shown, print isn’t completely dead.