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Is print media dead?

Updated: May 11, 2020

collection of magazines

Last Tuesday (10th September) TI Media made the announcement that they would stop producing a UK print edition of Marie Claire after November to become a digital only offering

The news made headlines across the industry, but with a reported fall in advertising revenue and publishers across both the B2C and B2B arenas stopping print issues is the death knell finally tolling for print?

In short, we don’t think so.

Print is trusted

In the age of fake news and after the rise in reported online ad fraud and bots it’s unsurprising that in a 2017 survey Kantar found that print continues to hold the top spot as the most trusted medium for news.

Is digital the answer?

A spokeswoman for Marie Claire commented that they had seen print display advertising declining across the fashion and beauty sector, with levels down 25% in 2018 and expected levels for 2019 down in excess of 30% across the sector. She also commented that “consumers and advertisers have accelerated their move to digital alternatives”.

But is a purely digital edition really the answer? If we use Marie Claire as an example, the ABC figures for Marie Claire from July to December 2018 showed total circulation was 120,133 per issue, with 4,729 for the digital issue. Over the same period in 2017 the average circulation was 157,412 with 4,012 digital editions. So that’s a total decline in circulation of over 37,000 and an increase of only 700 for the digital edition it’s hardly a ringing endorsement for the digital issue!

No media is a panacea

With any media it is short sighted to view just one channel as a panacea. In our experience a multichannel approach which reaches consumers across multiple touch points drives the best response. We shouldn’t view media channels as an either/or. Media should be selected to compliment other formats on a comms plan.

Print certainly has its place and indeed is still king in many B2B areas, for example, one of our own areas of expertise; agriculture.

Our own in-house research shows that farmers value print media incredibly highly, with 79% of respondents siting articles in magazines as the place they go to in order to gather important business information.

Less could be more

With GDPR we saw email databases being slashed, but those who agreed to still receive communications clearly value the content being shared and we have witnessed higher engagement rates as a result.

The same is true of falls in print circulation. The total audience reached may be reducing slightly year on year, but those people who continue to buy, or subscribe to the print issue do so for a reason.

As marketeers we need to be savvier and more aware of how, when and where our audience are consuming media in order to identify the right media for the right communication at the right time.

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