Three reasons to rethink your print media strategy

Freddie Ossberg 14/05/2018

Brands, in their frenzy over digital, are missing out on the opportunities and ROI of print – and agencies are miscalculating it.

Global ad spend for print media is decreasing. Forecasts predict that 2018 will see print receive just 13.8 per cent of total spend, down from 15.1 per cent in 2017.

Digital channels are growing at print’s expense, and boast quantifiable metrics that let you monitor ROI in real‐time. Against digital advertising’s quick results, placing a print ad might seem risky. But, take a closer look at the facts and a different picture starts to emerge.

Seeing ROI from print requires a shift in mindset from focusing on impressions and CTRs to other metrics that take a longer term view. When measuring print ROI, there are fewer short‐term metrics to report back. But studies show that the effect on sales is more powerful than any other advertising medium.

For example, research by GFK compared cross‐channel advertising from ten campaigns in different verticals. It found that every pound invested in newsprint ads delivers a return on average of £1.20, £0.10 higher than that of digital channels.

Here, we take a closer look at this topic and uncover three reasons why rethinking your approach print could enhance the ROI of your campaigns.

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The trust factor

Given that you are more likely to climb Mount Everest than click a banner ad and questions of brand safety are high on the agenda, the trusted medium of print offers untapped potential to build a brand’s credibility at scale.

According to MarketingSherpa, 82 percent of US internet users trust print ads when making a purchasing decision, more than any other medium. Search ads, the highest ranking online format, clock in at 61 percent, while only 25 percent of Americans trust pop‐ups.

We see the same picture when it comes to print content. Sticky Content’s annual survey shows that 65 per cent of readers expect to find the best quality written content in print. Just 9 per cent said the same about online content, meaning print is easily the most trusted medium for brands to operate in.

The relationship factor

Abandonment rates online are high. On average, just 20 per cent of a web page gets read. The majority of viewers stop watching a video before the 30 second mark. And the average bounce rate for paid search campaigns can be up to 90 per cent.

Even though your digital reach may be high, many of the prospects will not engage with your content or ads in a meaningful way. Given that it takes 7 – 8 touchpoints to warm up a lead, creating the right circumstances to build a relationship is crucial for conversion.

This is where print is valuable. A 2017 study from academic publisher Taylor & Francis reports that newspapers are on average read for 40 minutes per day, and 60 per cent of readers say they do not engage with any other media (TV, phone, tablets) during this time.

Using print as a key touchpoint for relationship building is a valuable way to convey your message in a highly engaged, uninterrupted medium.

The sharing and saving factor

Social networks like Facebook are cutting back on brands’ organic reach. It’s never been more important to create shareable content, but many marketers forget about the offline alternatives when building their advocacy campaigns.

Print is an excellent medium for sharing because it’s a physical entity and easy to save or pass on. People share magazines with friends, leave newspapers on the tube and pass interesting research or reports onto their colleagues.

The longevity of print increases the window in which a prospect can engage and respond to the call to action. According to a study by Advantage and Kantar, 74 per cent of B2B readers take positive action as a result of reading content from a brand, whether that’s making an enquiry, booking an event, purchasing a product, visiting a landing page or something else.

What’s more, according to the Direct Marketing Association, some print ads can spur up to 40 per cent of people to search online about an organisation and its work.

In summary

The growth of digital cannot be denied, but complementing digital spend with the strategic use of print media distribution is still a great way to improve your campaign ROI.

Focusing on where your target audience members consumes their insights and appearing in the mediums where they are most engaged and open to contextual messages will enhance the performance of digital spend on the same audience.

With print ad spend decreasing, it’s now becoming cheaper and easier for marketers to take advantage of this opportunity to build trust and credibility with their target audiences.