Is the print ad finally dead?

1 Oct

During the past few weeks we’ve had a rash of print ads to do for a variety of clients. The increased activity feels to me like the final twitches; nerve endings firing off across the synapses into empty receptors.

What happened to the print ad?

Ten years ago it shared the rule of the known universe with its more garish and unattainable sibling, the TV commercial.

You could always afford a pizza date with the print ad, even when your resources wouldn’t allow you to squire around a TV spot for the night.

Well, we know the Internet happened. But was the Internet the executioner?

No, the consumer was actually.

As soon as the consumer began to go forth and multiply in online social spaces, the traditional one-way dialogue that is a print ad lost all its relevance. The newspapers were soon bereft of them.

There are still people reading papers, so why have the ads disappeared?

They haven’t adapted to the change in the push/pull of consumer content. They are old school, not because of the medium, but the message.

Is there any hope Doctor? Only this: if marketers can start looking at print ads as parts of an overall digital strategy, as drivers to digital environments, they may still be of real value. The audience is there, dwindling, but still ticking.

The last best hope is that print ads become part of the change they currently ignore.

In other words, stop twitching and start switching.

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8 Responses to “Is the print ad finally dead?”

  1. Jody Beck October 1, 2010 at 12:42 pm #

    Oh Doug, you knew I would have to respond to this! And if I weren’t so busy managing all the traffic from our print ad insertions into the multiple publications we represent, I’d have more time to delve into this issue with you. Fortunately, print is still very much alive at Page One and I must get back to work.

    I wholeheartedly agree, however, that you need to embrace the digital/social media movement and learn how to apply it to the print medium. There is opportunity to create a deeper loyalty and stronger engagement with the reader, if used properly. Stay tuned… leaders will emerge!

  2. Jody Beck October 1, 2010 at 12:45 pm #

    Furthermore, here is the “copy and paste” ad copy from the current MPA (US) ad campaign that you will see in many national publications:

    We surf the Internet.
    We swim in magazines.

    The Internet is exhilarating. Magazines are enveloping. The Internet grabs you. Magazines embrace you. The Internet is fleeting. Magazines are immersive. And both media are growing.

    Barely noticed amidst the thunderous Internet clamor is the simple fact that magazine readership has risen over the past five years. Even in the age of the Internet, even among the groups one would assume are most singularly hooked on digital media, the appeal of magazines is growing.

    Think of it this way: during the 12-year lif of Google, magazine readership actually increased 11 percent.

    What it proves, once again, is that a new medium doesn’t necessarily displace an existing one. Just as movies didn’t kill radio. Just as TV didn’t kill movies. An established medium can continue to flourish so long as it continues to offer a unique experience. And, as reader loyalty and growth demonstrate, magazines do.

    Which is why people aren’t giving up swimming, just because they also enjoy surfing.

  3. Reg October 1, 2010 at 2:26 pm #

    Love the internet and all that’s come with it (okay, well, maybe not “all”, let’s be clear…), but still a fan of a (good) print ad. For that matter, to Jody’s point, there are plenty of other media alive and well besides the digital – but those that are “well” are also adapting and connecting the dots to the digital space in some fashion. Witness the birth and seeming proliferation more and more of the ‘scan codes’ in newspapers and magazines more and more, allowing mobile devices to carry on where the print ad leaves off, all without leaving your chair, bus seat, or patch of beach….

    And, lest I forget my roots, I continue to be a believer in (well-placed, well-targeted, well built, well-strategized, well, you get the picture….) email AND direct mail campaigns, particularly if integrated with other media, including digital. Testing I have done over the past several years continued to show strength out of these media, and that, even when you have an email address, the DM address can outperform, or better yet, the 2 together can. Maybe not as glamourous or as ‘now’ as digital, but just as Doug and Jody note, print is not dead, not by a long shot — nor is DM or EM.

  4. Jody Beck October 1, 2010 at 3:44 pm #

    Well said Reg!

  5. dougbrowncreative October 1, 2010 at 5:37 pm #

    Jody I’m thrilled to hear you’re busy with ad sales. I do believe you can create engagement through print ads with readers. Long body copy ads were once the standard bearer (this is sales after all) but the general feeling is that no one reads ads anymore, right? So welcome to the wham bam climate of the quick hit ad. Every since visual story-telling humour became the mandatory format for any self-respecting ad agency’s print, sales have taken a back seat to yucks and awards. No wonder the action is all online.
    People do pick up magazines to read. Let’s hope the ad industry takes note once again. Thanks for the welcome comment.

  6. dougbrowncreative October 1, 2010 at 8:30 pm #

    Reg I think people will always be susceptible to a good sell: a truth well told, as they used to say at McCann Erickson. As you know, I’m a big DM fan too, primarily because of the opportunity for engagement. We old school guys continue to have faith in the tools of our trade, we just need to use them in ways that respect where the customer is. Great comment as always!

  7. Susan Jones October 2, 2010 at 4:09 pm #

    Need it be one or the other?
    Digital & print provides me with choice.
    I choose both and am loving it!

  8. dougbrowncreative October 3, 2010 at 1:51 pm #

    Ultimately our attention, and therefore our time, will be split between the two in some proportion. More media means less time for each. So I think it will come down to one or the other eventually Susan. There are only so many hours in the day for media consumption.

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