The future for print advertising is anything but bleak.
Executives from Newsworks, BBH, and The Evening Standard in the U.K., Torstar in Canada, and Print Power Europe shared how print advertising plays a key role in news media’s offerings even as digital rapidly changes the landscape during the INMA Print Advertising Innovation Master Class in February.
Denise Turner, director of insight at Newsworks, the marketing body for the UK’s national news publishers, said it is time to debunk the widely held but false notion that print is dead and will be completely replaced by digital methods of distributing news.
The role of print in advertising may not be clear for some, Turner said: “In a world where there’s so many different options in terms of advertising opportunities, why should you choose print? What is the importance of print?”
Turner said it’s not as simple as doing a little TV ad and a little digital ad without thinking about newspapers, because you might miss out on something important. Newsworks did a project a few years ago, taking several different ad campaigns and placing them across television, digital, print, outdoor, and magazines.
What happened was people who recognised the newspaper element of the campaign had higher levels of brand knowledge, purchase intent, word of mouth, and advocacy versus those who recognised the campaign but not the newspaper element.
They found print’s role was in driving people along the purchase funnel and giving them reassurance the brand they’re buying is reliable and reputable, Turner said: “One of the things that was key and very encouraging to us is that print has a very specific role in driving particular measures.”
“There’s some amazing things happening within the print medium,” said Michael Beckerman, chief client officer for Torstar, which publishes daily and community newspapers throughout Canada.
Print offers numerous possibilities for innovation that will attract readers and advertisers alike, he said, adding creativity is a key opportunity for print differentiation: “Let’s make print cool again.”
Getting buyers “on the edge of their seats” will encourage them to buy advertising. Beckerman said the INMA master class had provided plenty of examples of how newspapers are innovating.
It’s also time for publishers to think about how their current inventory of stories and artwork fit into the future, Beckerman said, adding that the growth of blockchain provides an opportunity to dust off historic images and turn them into NFTs: “That’s how you bridge the world between what we’re talking about in 2022 and continuing to make print remarkably relevant.”
The Evening Standard (UK)
The Evening Standard, nearly 200 years old, is a free local newspaper that caters primarily to commuters in London. How does the brand continue to progress and keep print alive?
“We should remember where we came from, because we are still doing the same thing: telling a story,” said Doug Wills, editor emeritus, about the difference in its print and digital content.
Evening Standard prides itself on being the voice of modern London, which has been successful considering London’s incredible diversity. Evening Standard is one of “London’s most influential and powerful newsbrand,” Wills said. London seees more than one million daily commuters, giving a huge opportunity for visually appealing print newspapers.
“Print is the most major visual sign of a media brand in the street,” he said
Wills emphasised how its print products are just as important as its digital platform: “The printed paper should now be viewed as a platform. We shouldn’t hide from that fact.”
Print Power Europe
Selling print newspaper advertising may have become more challenging with the advent of digital platforms, but it still provides a viable revenue stream for media companies, Ulbe Jelluma, managing director of Print Power Europe, said: “Obviously, there is a great need to do that because the power of online competitors is huge.”
But Jelluma showed that it’s not an insurmountable challenge if taken on in the proper way — and that begins with the proper pitch. Part of the proper pitch requires changing the mindset of the buyer. This may require publishers to challenge any negative perceptions buyers have around print advertising.
When Print Power Europe surveyed marketers and agencies, it found that the perception of what type of advertising is effective differed dramatically from what research shows. While marketers perceive newspapers, magazines, and direct mail as the least effective forms of advertising, research shows that they rank third, fourth, and sixth respectively in terms of performance.
“If we compare the perception with the actual media buying, we can see that perception, in this case, leads to media buying because the media buying is consistent with the perception of market use and agencies,” Jelluma said.
Sir John Hegarty, founder of the global creative agency BBH, warned master class attendees to be aware of marketing directors in some agencies who grew up in a digital world and don’t understand the value of print.
“I think that’s something the print media should be establishing: what is our value in the marketplace, what are we offering that other media don’t offer,” Hegarty said.
He added people’s own prejudices are affecting decision making without them realising it, and the advertising industry tends to forget the past in favour of the future.
“We forget the past informs the future and we don’t have that understanding of what the past can give current media plans, and that’s where it goes horribly wrong,” Hegarty said.
Hegarty wants to see print media talk directly to the clients and stop relying on media agencies that push digital only: “Print media has to talk directly to clients because in the end, they’re the ones making the decisions and they’re the ones who’ve got to be told, ‘This is the advantage of using print media.’”
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