For years, experts have been speculating about the death of print. On the surface, the prediction makes sense; digital advertising is cost-effective, convenient, and more popular than ever. However, there are some factors that have been keeping print ads alive, despite the encroaching superiority of digital.
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Alternately, print ads have the potential to stay relevant for years, if not decades to come. So why is this the case?
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How Print Ads Are Staying Relevant
These are the most important factors driving the continued relevance of print ads:
- Declining costs. First, there are the constantly declining costs of print ads. Though digital advertising represents a more cost-efficient option overall in some cases, the costs of print advertising are going down. This is partially due to the number of websites offering inexpensive print options, and partially due to the threat of digital competition. Either way, print advertising is nowhere near as expensive as it used to be, which means more companies can take advantage of it and still see a positive ROI.
- Integrations with digital media. Print advertising is also remaining popular because it can be integrated with digital media in a number of ways. An early example of this was the use of QR codes; these could printed in the traditional fashion, but when a consumer viewed them using a smart device, the code would take them to a specific website, app, or other online destination. Today, print ads can be used as part of an augmented reality campaign, and chances are, there will be even more impressive integrations with digital media in the future.
- Inventive new uses. Advertisers are also starting to use print ads in more inventive ways. Decades of experimentation and new customer insights has led us to a new age of customer understanding, and that means our ads are more effective than ever. Some companies are pushing the boundaries by experimenting with new, inventive applications, such as printing an ad on a new material or positioning the ad in some new, creative way. This makes ads more compelling and makes print ads more attractive in an age dominated by digital.
- Customer preferences. We also must consider the fact that some customers prefer print by default. Research shows that despite the convenience and accessibility of new technology, some readers strictly prefer to read things in a printed medium. This represents a significant demographic, which advertisers are not likely to ignore. Moreover, this demographic isn’t likely to disappear in the next several years (or maybe ever). Print will stay alive and well, as long as there are people around to engage with the medium.
- Local markets. National newspapers may be struggling to stay afloat when it makes far more sense to distribute digitally than it does to distribute in print. But local newspapers can still make use of a local distribution circuit; print is much more effective on small scales, when you can get to know your demographics better and avoid paying the costs of large-scale transportation. This means print advertisement is less expensive and more effective for local businesses. Considering there are more than 28 million small businesses in the United States, there should be enough demand to keep print relevant for a long time to come.
Should You Use Print Ads?
So should your business consider purchasing print ads? That depends on the nature of your business, and what you’re hoping to get out of your advertising campaign. If you’re already engaged in a digital marketing campaign, a print advertising campaign could serve as the perfect complement. If you’re a local business and you’re looking to cater to local demographics, you might also find that print advertisements are a cost-effective way to reach those people.
It’s unlikely that print ads are going to become obsolete in our lifetime, thanks to the improvements in the medium and the lasting power that print, as a medium, still has. Whether you make use of those improvements and that power is up to you—and dependent on your long-term marketing goals.