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Print: the marketing constant


The print world we used to know no longer exists – print has changed. New technologies, such as printed electronics and augmented reality, now blur the line between print and digital – taking the print medium to new exciting levels. And with this rapid change, we can’t help but wonder what the next evolutionary step for this medium will be? 

 Traditional print now has to compete against a range of increasingly sophisticated channels. At the same time, marketing budgets have largely been reduced and all spend is under the microscope.

But ever since Gutenberg kick-started the printing revolution in the 15th century, print has proved to be an enduring medium and ‘the death of printing’ has been a grossly exaggerated phenomenon. Despite the seeming decline of print, with many well-known publications switching their print magazines online (see: Newsweek, AccountancyAge, The Dandy and Macmillan Dictionary as recent examples), the ROI for print is actually increasing for marketers. 

So what’s going on here?

Well first things first, It’s important to remember that while the marketing landscape has been changing, so too have the marketers that inhabit it. Many have responded to change by moving away from the “scatter-gun” tactics of the past towards a much more targeted, data driven and integrated approach. Wielding data in this way has enabled marketers to make print work much harder, whilst also integrating it with their digital efforts.

Our research suggests that nearly three quarters (70 per cent) of marketers are currently using print to direct audiences to digital content in this way. Almost half of marketers (46 per cent) also believe print is “vital” to driving interest in digital content and campaigns. 

‘Vital’ might sound like a strong word, but in this modern age of information overload, print still has the power to cut through the noise.

More than any other channel, print is still incredibly successful at eliciting an emotive response at that first point of contact. When you think about big-ticket purchases such as a new car or home cinema system, these are major decisions for any consumer; and, this is where a high quality, informative brochure can help to instill confidence and peace of mind to make an individual take the next step forward.

In addition, technologies such as augmented reality, QR codes and image scanners have actually played a role in a more joined up approach to print marketing. So the new is not displacing the old, it is transforming it by forcing it to accept transparency, responsiveness and efficiency.

So although print has drastically changed over the past few years, it’s clear that it is here to stay for the long haul. Print will always be of value, particularly as an enduring medium – in a world where throwaway media progressively seems to rule. In my view, it will become an increasingly used, highly strategic tool for marketers, who can easily integrate it with digital outputs to bring tangibility and credibility to their campaigns of the future.