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Investing In Print Advertising for Digital Marketing Campaigns


Does it still make sense to go for print advertising, or is it digital marketing all the way? The question may seem moot, as current trends indicate that print is dead. However, it may be easy and affordable to set up a website, and digital marketing is pretty much instantaneous and highly measurable. However, that also means most of your competitors will be doing the same thing you are doing. You will still be competing fiercely for the same slice of the market, so you need to make your business stand out in the crowd. Print advertising together with effective digital marketing strategies may be just the edge you need to put you over the top.

More is better

Back in the day when digital meant a watch, marketing professionals focused on three mediums of advertising: print, television, and radio. The tri-media integrated marketing strategy pushed saturation as far as it would go, as clients wanted as much exposure as they could get in a campaign. Print was always a favorite despite its limitations because it was relatively affordable, and it had a physical component that people could hold and keep.

With the advent of the Internet, tri-media now became “multi-channel,” but the principles remain the same: use whatever means necessary to send across the message. There is no denying that digital marketing was definitely an effective way of getting the attention of a much wider audience than print. However, digital is also ephemeral, so it is just one side of a marketing campaign, especially for brand awareness.

Take for example the #LikeaGirl campaign of cosmetic company Always. Always #likeagirl released simultaneous print and digital campaigns to spread the tagline “Let’s make #likeagirl mean amazing things” in 2014. The YouTube video garnered more than a combined 850 million views, hashtags, and reactions in 150 countries, supported by print ads and press releases translated in different languages.

Another example is the Southwest Airlines Tranfarency campaign. Anyone who travels on air knows about the hidden fees behind airfare “deals,” so Southwest aimed to show consumers that it did not do business that way. It used an interactive micro-site to engage the digital audience, and print to make it more in-your-face.

The two brand awareness campaigns worked primarily because they both honed in on a theme that resonated with people everywhere. It cut across language and cultural barriers in both print and social media. Digital or print media alone would not have brought as much attention to these campaigns as it had when they were integrated.

Print advertising still works if it evolves

Print advertising is on solid ground, because people are not always online, whilst print is available 24/7 even during a power outage. However, print advertising strategies before the digital age are no longer going to work. A tech-savvy, hyper-critical, and increasingly wary population needs more than the hard-sell tactics of bygone campaigns. Marketing professionals need to go with the flow by studying the market and developing strategies that will engage them effectively.

Budget matters

Of course, to do any kind of marketing campaign, you need a budget, and businesses are prepared to put their money where their mouth is. The need for aggressive marketing campaigns to capture a shifting market will result in a 5.1% annual increase globally over the next 5 years, at $2.1 trillion in 2019 as opposed to $1.6 trillion in 2014.  Of that, businesses are projected to spend about 12.7% more on digital marketing in 2016 compared to last year. Much of these funds (69%) will go to website development, content creation and optimization.

In contrast, traditional media will suffer a decline, especially advertising in magazines and newspapers. Statistics show that the decline is at a steady rate of 1.3% yearly for these print channels since 2012. Outdoor advertising, however, is a different matter. Marketing professionals believe that the return on investment (ROI) is high enough to keep them plugging away at it as always.

A different perspective

Yet the case can be made for magazine and newspaper print advertising. According to a case study by performance management company Nielsen, magazine ads boost the ROI on TV ads and digital advertising campaigns by 18% and 13% respectively. The case study took into consideration the shift in the way people read magazines, which more accurately reflects the actual ROI for print advertising in these channels. These results are echoed in an independent study carried out by GfK Panel Services, in which magazine and newspaper ads is shown to give the highest ROI over all media at 130% and 120% respectively, closely followed by digital marketing at 110%.

Digital marketing is definitely the current darling of many marketing professionals, but there are signs the trends are beginning to stabilize. The fact is: an effective marketing strategy requires a multi-channel approach. It is not enough to throw money at one or the other and hope for the best. The highest ROI can be achieved with a judicious mix of traditional and digital media that reflects current trends in consumer behavior.

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