What is the new role of print in the advertising mix of the future?

By Mark Challinor


London, United Kingdom


Print advertising’s importance to media companies can’t be ignored. But where does print fit in our fast-emerging digital world?

The fact is many media companies continue to struggle with turning digital advertising revenues into the levels we’ve seen in print’s past. For many, print remains an important component of the advertising mix, part of the choice of channels to offer advertisers.

Večernji list, one of the most influential media brands in Croatia, launched a new print Sunday edition in 2020, increasing Sunday ad revenue by 71%.
Večernji list, one of the most influential media brands in Croatia, launched a new print Sunday edition in 2020, increasing Sunday ad revenue by 71%.

Over and over, INMA members in Europe, North America, Latin America, and Asia/Pacific tell us that the emergence of economies from the pandemic will lift advertising fortunes — and finding smarter ways to contextualise print is too big an opportunity to ignore.

A CEO for a North American news media company put it best when he told me: “The main issue is that there is still too much money on the table with print, which can’t be ignored. A focus on digital is good, but it will not, in itself, solve our industry’s revenue problems we will all face over the next 12 months.”

When I asked the CEO what we should do next, he insisted: “Prove digital works better, but don’t write off print just yet.”

This reflects many comments from INMA members who realise digital is our future, yet print is vital for the next two years at least — probably many more years for some.

A Brazilian CEO told me that demonstrating proof of print’s performance remains vital. “It is enough to fully measure customer action attribution (sales, leads). This a deal breaker for many advertisers. Print is important, but how can we effectively measure it?”

The CEO of a U.S. regional media company told me a home truth, which related to the many publishers who promote and believe strongly in print: “We must determine a way to communicate that we are more than (just) a newspaper, while maintaining the credibility that comes along with being a newspaper.”

Yet another publisher particularly wanted to know how “print plus digital” stands up versus, say, Facebook.

What is the print advertising opportunity in the economy’s upward trend? Where does print really fit in the Digital Era? How do we measure print in an advertising world that demands measurement? How should print advertising be communicated in a publisher’s multi-platform storyline? These are the questions coming from news industry CEOs as we fine-tune the new INMA Advertising Initiative.

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About Mark Challinor

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