Understanding the role of print advertising in a digital world

By Chandler Wieberg


Austin, Texas, United States


Integrating online behaviour with print is a challenge all publishers face. Ulbe Jelluma, managing director at print media advertising initiative Print Power, explained how news brands can manage this brave new world from an advertising and marketing perspective during the INMA South Asia News Media Summit last week. 

“Digitalisation is affecting media, especially print media,” Jelluma said. 

“What we see is the entire processes of how to produce advertising, and how to present the advertising products by publishers, is changing enormously. Revenue is also changing.”

As a result, brands, agencies, and publishers must continually adjust their practices. “This might sound negative for publishers, but I think there is a great opportunity,” he said.

In Europe, the Edelman Trust Barometer found that print media is very much trusted by readers and consumers. The brands that are trusted in print also are trusted online.

“It looks like the trust level is related to the brands of the publishers,” Jelluma said. “This is a great value to have in a world that is changing rapidly.”

How to sell print advertising

To sell print, Jelluma said it was important to learn how people view print advertising. One survey in the United Kingdom asked brands and agencies about their perception about the effectiveness of print and other channels advertising. 

The perception of advertising effectiveness differs greatly from its actual results.
The perception of advertising effectiveness differs greatly from its actual results.

Although brands thought newspapers and magazines were at the bottom of the list — leaving television, video, and radio topping the list in terms of effectiveness — results showed the opposite: newspapers and magazines were in the top four when it came to advertising effectiveness. 

“There is a huge discrepancy based on evidence from research and what people think they know,” Jelluma explained. “We have to think about this with print advertising because there is a misunderstanding of the role of print.”

That misunderstanding is underscored by how advertising dollars are spent in the U.K., where 79% of spending is on digital and only 2% of all ad spend goes to newspapers. Magazines trail at just 1%. 

“This also means we need to look at print in a very different way than we have so far,” he said. “We need to look at print from a perspective of integrating print in the media mix, consisting of various digital channels, and also using news brands together, both print and digital.”

It is important that print publishers work with other channels instead of working against them. Jelluma explained a lot of revenue is missed if brands and agencies do not understand the power of print. 

“This goes to show brands and agencies should have a very clear view of what they can do with print,” he said. “The optimal investment in print can lead to the most profit.” 

The effectiveness of print

Print also suffers from concerns that it can’t be accurately measured like digital advertising, but Jelluma said there are different types of performance measures that can be used for print — such as major business effects like sales and profits. Response to advertisements can also be measured. Coupons were a good way of initially measuring advertising in print, and today it can be a phone number to call, a Web site visit, or people discussing it with others. 

 Jelluma introduced two new measures — the amplification of other media’s performance and advertising attention and dwell time for consumers. 

“Print advertising has a big impact, but print advertising also amplifies the effectiveness of other channels,” he said.


Print advertising can boost the effectiveness of ads in other channels, research shows.
Print advertising can boost the effectiveness of ads in other channels, research shows.

Data indicates television is 61% more effective when news brands are added and online video becomes 73% more effective — as well as affecting online displays and social media.

“When using news brands, you should not only measure your own effectiveness, you should measure the effectiveness of other channels,” Jelluma said. 

A company in the U.K. that tracks the attention and dwell time of consumers and readers did a study on how much time consumers spend on advertisements. It found that when attention and dwell time are measured, the recall was 20-25% with a print ad and just 15% for a digital ad. 

“Because people go through a newspaper or magazine quickly, they only have a short dwell time with these ads, but the effectiveness of the short period is much higher than one for digital advertising,” Jelluma explained.

About Chandler Wieberg

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