With the growth of digital and increasing investment in online formats, why should we continue to invest in print media?

Print media is a long-standing format, trusted and still used by many consumers. Although we are moving into a digital first world where social media advertising is seemingly leading the way, it is important to consider print as part of your media mix.

The argument around the death of print is not new, having been predicted for decades. Many magazines have moved to digital only formats (accelerated in particular during the pandemic), with many titles accessible on Apps such as Readly or PocketMags. However, the ready availability of content online doesn’t necessarily mean the end of print.

A trusted media

In March 2021 YouGov released their International Media Consumption Report which analysed the impact of COVID-19 on media consumption across the globe. Out of all the media channels, print is the third most trusted advertising format at 42%, closely behind Radio and Television. Whilst readership may be decreasing, consumers who are still picking up their favourite weekly, monthly or quarterly magazines trust the content within them which increases purchase intent.

Whilst it is true that print readership is declining, this doesn’t mean the format isn’t valuable. Smaller circulation often means cheaper Ratecard for advertising, making it a cost-effective format for many brands. In addition, with print magazine titles often being quite niche, it allows brands to be very targeted with the audiences that they reach. Furthermore, these smaller, repeat readerships that many titles hold demonstrates the loyalty of the readers, This allows brands to increase their OTS (Opportunity to See) by advertising in multiple issues and driving higher frequency.

A format for a commuter audience

It is also important to consider print media as a suitable format for reaching a commuter audience. As more and more people travel on planes, trains, and buses on both long and short distance journeys, print content allows consumers to fill their time with content. A recent poll by Forbes showed that 88% of passengers picked up and read an inflight magazine but only 5-10% read the digital version.

The role of print media vs digital

The real power of print advertising is trust in the traditional media format. Whilst social remains a strong channel and continues to see growth particularly for e-commerce, social media is a less trusted advertising format. Therefore, brand credibility is harder to achieve and may not be the most effective channel for this objective. This is an important consideration for brands in their introduction phase or brands penetrating new markets, for example.  

Print ads also have great recall and perform well against digital. With countless videos, pop ups and banners, the internet is a competitive environment for audience attention. Across print, however, readers have designated their time to engage, read and digest the content they see, which reinforces its advantages as a brand piece.

Print circulation may be on the decline but loyal audiences who are committed to their Sunday Newspapers or monthly cycling magazines will remain. With love and trust in the content they cyclically digest, advertisers endorsed by these sources will receive that same level of trust. It may be a smaller market than it once was, but its strength is undoubtedly as valuable as ever.