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Myth busters: why print media isn’t dead


Once upon a time, Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press and it completely revolutionised society. Print was the great equaliser – increasing literacy levels and opening the door for the ‘average Joe’ to access information and avenues for learning like never before.

As the years rolled on, companies increasingly began to communicate with their consumers via newspapers, magazines, flyers, posters and billboards. Print advertising was an essential tool for reaching potential customers.

Fast track over 500 years later and a new revolution – this time a digital one – is again shaking up how opinions, ideas, news and information are packaged and disseminated. But has digital technology made print media obsolete? And is print a completely outdated and irrelevant medium for marketing and advertising purpose? We think not.

In this blog, we address some of the common myths around print media to demonstrate why print advertising shouldn’t be thrown out like the proverbial baby with its bathwater.

Myth #1: People spend most of their time online and don’t read printed materials anymore

According to a New York Times article, the digital revolution hasn’t put an end to print media, but, rather, has led to the emergence of a new type of reader – a ‘hybrid reader’ – who can easily juggle devices and paper.

One Washington Post article maintains that, when it comes to reading for both learning and pleasure, millennials still prefer print, while the findings of a Pew Research Centre survey reveal that people favour reading traditional print books over digital products.

These preferences are well summarised in a Hubcast white paper, which encourages marketers to use print advertising for the following reasons:

1. Printed material is easier to read and navigate than digital content.
2. Our ability to retain information is better when we read printed materials.
3. We spend more time browsing, scanning and skim-reading content on digital devices, so we’re less likely to absorb what we read.
4. Digital reading doesn’t offer us the same tactile experience as print reading.
5. Print continues to maintain its credibility – more so than digital.
6. A marriage of digital and print can be more powerful than each medium alone.

While people may spend a great portion of their time on digital devices each day, the quality of their digital reading experience isn’t necessarily on par with that of print material. Which leads us to the second myth that needs debunking.

Myth #2: Young people don’t read magazines anymore

Print, in fact, has never been more popular among young readers. This is according to a Nomos Research publication based on a study done to find out whether or not young people read magazines. It turns out that they do, and more so than their counterparts some 10 – 20 years ago. The top magazine categories that these youngsters are enjoying include fashion/beauty, health and upscale lifestyle magazines.

In addition, one American Press Institute report highlights that print publications are still used by nearly half of young adults (between ages 18-29) and just over half of adults (from ages 30-39).

Myth #3: Print advertising doesn’t work as well as it did in the past

Digital media has definitely changed how customers see and pay attention to brand messaging. For one, consumers now have far more power and more information sources to choose from. But, when it comes to the ‘print-versus-digital-advertising’ debacle, it’s not actually an either/or situation that needs solving. Instead, print titles should be supported by strong online offerings to accommodate the 21st century consumer who can move between print and digital media (and vice versa) if and when they feel necessary.

The HOMEMAKERSfair magazine, for example, is available in both digital and print formats, making it an ideal advertising tool for promoting your home improvement business’ products and services.

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