Is print dead?


Print media is going through a process of change, but is it dead? We are often bombarded with the opinion that print is taking a big hit because of the new digital age. The only print that may be dying are the newspapers and magazines managed by people who live in the past, unaccepting of the digital world. Advertising in these kinds of papers is costly as advertising goes up while sales and readership decline. It makes no sense and isn’t measurable.


If you’re part of a marketing team, or a brand that's worked with other agencies, you’ve most likely heard the term ‘marketing mix.’ The marketing mix refers to a set of actions or tactics that a company may use to promote its brand and its offering. Typically, there are 4P’s that make up a marketing mix - price, product, promotion and place. However, with the rise of digital, there are 3 new P’s - packaging, positioning and people. All the elements of the mix influence each other, and together make up a business strategy of success, if done correctly.


So where does print fit into all of this? Today, we as marketers can create comprehensive user experiences through every touchpoint of your brand. Print is easily accessible by small brands right through to big corporates, each having an equal opportunity to create focused, targeted and effective advertising campaigns. Brands are using print media to build awareness and drive traffic online. The combination of print and digital engage readers with a multi-sensory and personal experience, combining best features from each increasing the effectiveness of the overall messaging. Use the credibility of print, the capability of digital to deliver targeted content online or via email, and the engaging of consumers of social media for a fuller and effective customer experience.

We feel, strongly, that print is not dead, and here’s why:


1. It’s an experience

Reading a magazine or newspaper is an experience. You may agree with us on this one.  You’re immersed in the pages - perhaps at the beach suntanning, on a plane to visit family or conduct a business meeting. Or you’re reading the Sunday paper with your feet up on the couch. Print allows one to “tap out”, to escape into a world outside the dimension of the day to day digital frenzy.

Our most favourite memories of newspapers and magazines involve emotive experiences. I imagine my father sitting on the patio with his hot Milo at 7am catching up on the week's news;  my grandfather reading the comics and jokes out to us grandkids; or the day our final matric results were released and we scrambled to buy a newspaper to see the results.


2. We’re a bit behind.

South Africa is still a developing country, which means that exposure to most digital platforms is reserved for middle-to-upper class people. For most, newspapers are the only way to keep up with what is happening in and around our country. While the trend of moving towards online is prevalent on a global scale, studies have shown that print publications in South Africa remain the country’s preferred platform. Newspapers such as Daily Sun are still selling an average of 1,2 million copies per week!


3. The digital error

Studies have shown that one’s brain cannot process as much information on screen as one can through print. As a result, newspapers and magazines will always be the preferred source of opinion and summation. In addition, digital media is unable to convey the same amount of information as print can, firstly because there is not enough room on the screen to display the information and secondly, online algorithms detect ones readership habits, therefore limiting the information revealed. Newspaper’s refined target user interface make it an effective medium compared to its online counterpart. This is due to both the geographic factors as well as advertisers having a very good knowledge and understanding of their target audience.


4. Targeted advertising

Advertising in newspapers and magazines is a highly effective channel of communication between consumers and brands. As a communication medium, print delivers highly specific messages to a narrow target audience, therefore, ensuring that the right consumer is reached. Consumers are able to engage a lot more with brands advertised because of the incorporation of sight and touch. Adverts can also be structured with a certain text, body, letter spacing, sections, photographs and illustrations, that will guide the reader through the advertisement and increase the chances of them understanding the brand message.

We strongly feel that current and future consumers can continue to look forward to their Sunday ritual of putting their feet up, sipping on a coffee whilst slowly paging through their favourite Sunday read. For generations before us and generations to come, newspapers and magazines will always bring a sense of calm, a habit of relaxation and ultimately the full story.