Hot Off the Press: Why Print Still Matters

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In the never-ending talk about business marketing platforms, it seems like one is always forgotten: good old-fashioned print. It can be easy to cast off print as the ugly stepchild of today’s multimedia marketing platforms, but studies show we may be dismissing its reach too soon. Many business owners opt to replace paper advertisements with ever-popular video walls, online advertisements, social media marketing campaigns, and other innovative digital renditions. However, it appears the businesses with the most success use a combination of print and digital advertising.

The Advantages of Print Advertising

Gone are the days of ink-smudged fingertips and clipping the funnies from Sunday’s newspaper to hang on the fridge…or are they? I personally hope not. I’m a huge advocate of print—books, advertisements, and other media. While I do enroll in paperless billing (who wants to kill trees for bills?), I don’t think paper books can be replaced with digital media. I feel the same about print advertisements. While I browse Groupon with the best of them, I also check my daily mail for print coupons and deals from local establishments.

Without print, the world would be trapped in the digital sphere—a sphere that does have drawbacks, despite technology companies’ best efforts to make you think otherwise. As Go 2 Advertising points out, digital media’s immense amount of accessibility leads to distractions such as popup and sidebar ads tailored specifically to your personal needs using your search history. Many people (including myself) find these ads intrusive and irritating—almost an invasion of privacy.

Print advertisements not only enable your company to reach a non-digital audience, but they also give consumers a positive impression of your brand. Print is currently trendy in millennial circles, as are most “old school” practices. To think that print media could even be classified as “old school” makes me cringe, but here we are in the 21st century, and digital media has been around for almost half a century (no, really, I looked it up). If you wait long enough, you can introduce print media as a “new” advertising platform and really wow Generation Z.

When you engage in print advertising, you’re reaching your audience in a unique manner that not every company takes advantage of. Print advertisements leave a lasting impression on customers, who associate your brand with out-of-the-box thinking and industry trend setting. Combining digital marketing with print marketing can be the perfect way to generate new leads and increase brand awareness—a fact now backed by current research.

The Numbers Are In…And Print Is Still at the Top

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According to a study by Fluent and the Newspaper Association of America, print advertisements continue to carry sizeable influence and reach a large audience. The graph of their findings shows that print ads are topped only by television ads based on a recent survey of retailers’ marketing channel reach. Print ads tied with online ads (39%) for second place—a statistic that may surprise many retailers who believe online ads have long-since outstripped print media.

The study refers to the combination of print and digital advertising as the “Omnichannel Advantage.” It states that companies reaching consumers with a higher number of media channels—including print media—experience greater sales success. Omnichannel marketing drives sales and is conducive to generating new leads through customers who consume print media more than or as much as digital media.

Print media isn’t only beneficial because of the wider audience it reaches. The printed word may also hold more persuasive weight than digital content. A neurological study from Temple University for the United States Postal Service shows that the human brain processes physical media ads better than digital ads. While test subjects absorbed digital ads more quickly, paper ads engaged them for a longer period of time. When the study tested the same subjects one week later, they showed a more emotional response for physical media ads than digital.

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The neurological response the brain has to paper may be attributed to greater ventral striatum activation—the part of the brain most predictive of purchasing behavior. Physical ads caused more brain activity in this area in test subjects, leading to the belief that these advertisements may be more powerful than digital media when it comes to securing a sale. The outcome of this study shows that physical media beat digital media in five out of nine categories, tied in three categories, and only lost in the “Attention” category.

The Temple University study proves that physical ads have more emotional weight than digital ads and therefore lead to better audience retention. Customers can process more information about your brand, accurately remember the source of the advertisements, and generate a subconscious desire for the product—a prominent end goal for any business. If you had to choose between a short-lived burst of attention for your brand and a long-term emotional impression, surely you’d pick the latter.

The Future of Print Advertising in a Digital World

As digital media continues to make headlines, will those headlines eventually stop being printed in ink? It’s my sincere hope that the art of physical print never dies, and if the statistics continue to lean in print media’s favor, I may not have anything to fear. If the goal of your business’s advertisements is to engage your audience, it appears that print media still takes the prize over digital media—at least in long-term engagement.

Whether this trend will continue is anyone’s guess, but if you combine your digital ads with print ads, it appears you can’t go wrong. Double the press equals double the power. Creating engaging physical and digital mediums has the potential to make your advertisement stand out for all the right reasons.

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Devin Pallone

Devin is a graduate student at the University of South Florida, where she is studying creative writing. Her interests include reading, writing fiction, and trying not to get addicted to Netflix. In her spare time, she enjoys exploring the great outdoors with her husband and their husky, Indy.

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