By Elicia Potter, Creative Director
Are you a Kindle toter or a book enthusiast? Do you love reading the New York Times on your iPad or do you have it delivered daily to your home? These questions now have a strikingly new significance. With the advent of the World Wide Web, it is a common belief that printed media―one of the most used tools in a marketer’s toolbox―is dying a quick death. Many magazines and newspapers―feeling the pressure and competition of the Web―have folded or attempted to reinvent themselves online, while major consumer brands have reallocated their advertising dollars to the Web to reach online visitors. After all, there are many advantages to utilizing the Web versus print.
The Web is…
- Flexible. Need to add a page to your website? Correct a spelling mistake? You can make these changes and more in a snap on the Web.
- Cost effective. The time and money it takes to design for print, plus the cost of ad space, is exponentially higher than it is to design for and display on the Web.
- Accessible. Complying with current Web standards ensures we don’t leave behind any potential customers, by building digital materials that are accessible for those with various disabilities.
- An active medium. Unlike print or even broadcast, the Web requires user participation. The more a user engages in two-way conversations with a brand, the more likely a long-lasting relationship will form—the keystone of integrated marketing communications.
- Eco-friendly. For an evolving eco-conscious world, the Web and individual websites can reach millions of users with one distribution point, all while saving energy and raw materials.
- Controlled by consumers. There was a time when the Don Drapers of the world controlled what brands we were exposed to and even how much information we could obtain on a brand. Not anymore. Today, we as consumers control what we want to be exposed to and what information we want to share. And many times, we can even customize the online experience to our personal preferences.
- Made for sharing. The most effective form of marketing is by word of mouth. Period. One click on the Web allows us to share our personal experiences with brands, products, and services with anyone around the world. No longer are we limited to people in close physical proximity—we can communicate our preferences to anyone, anywhere, anytime.
- Measurable. Because the Internet is a transactional medium, it’s easier for marketers to track metrics, including how many users visited the site, how long they remained on the site, what they clicked on or purchased, etc.
Of course that’s not to say that printed media doesn’t have its own victories over the Web.
- Targets select audiences. Magazines are especially effective at catering to a variety of consumer interests.
- Has a long shelf life. A magazine may be around long after the launch date of the issue, which means advertisers can continue to increase their reach long after a campaign has ended.
- Has a pass-along audience. If you’ve ever read a magazine in a dentist’s office while waiting to have your teeth cleaned, then you know what I’m talking about.
But these advantages have been somewhat lost in the digital age. So, what is the print industry doing to maintain its relevancy?
- Touting the medium’s strengths over the Internet’s limitations. Last March, leaders of the top magazine publishing companies united to launch “Magazines, The Power of Print” campaign, which promoted the vitality of magazines as a media vehicle. The campaign ran for 7 months. Nearly 100 magazine titles published full-page ads touting the advantages of magazines and spotlighting consumers’ commitment to the medium. Powerful messages like “We surf the Internet. We swim in magazines.” reached over 112 million readers per month.
- Creating more eco-friendly printing processes and supplies. Paper companies like Neenah Paper have created product lines focused solely on the use of environmentally sustainable processes and materials to meet their customers’ needs. Printers like Greenprinter.com have committed to not just recycled paper but also to sustainable business practices.
- Adapting―If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. Various newspapers and publications see the value in utilizing the Web and mobile phones as both distribution points and marketing vehicles, and have transitioned their print publications to digital content. Other publications, like PC Magazine and
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, have ditched their print versions entirely to create new, online brands that cater to the needs and preferences of their subscriber base.
- Integrating. Marketers have been experimenting with Quick Response (QR) codes (a barcode that can be scanned by a mobile phone to receive additional information; see the example below) in their marketing of print materials. This combines the best of print, mobile, and Web platforms. A marketer benefits from the shelf life and reach of a print ad, the portability of a mobile phone, and the flexibility and active engagement of the Web.
There are distinct and important differences between digital and print media that allow each to be more or less effective, depending on the strategic goals of the marketing campaign. Understanding how to leverage these two platforms to find solutions for any marketing challenge will be integral in creating compelling marketing campaigns now and in the future.
Elicia has been providing award-winning Web and print solutions to clients for over 8 years. Visit our Project Spotlight page to view examples.