Marketing / Advertising

Is the print industry really dying out?

Chester Avey

Updated: Sep 20, 2022 · 5 min read

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is print media dying

The print industry has been around for a long, long time. From more traditional forms of print media, such as newspapers and magazines, to more marketing-focused media, like brochures and leaflets, our modern way of life owes a lot to the print industry.

That is, of course, until the internet came around.

Since Tim Berners-Lee’s creation back in 1989, the world has fast become a much different place, with the whole planet much more interconnected than ever before. With the rise of the internet, many anticipated the print industry’s supposed tumble, with many people suggesting that printed media was no longer needed. Because of the internet, the print industry is dying out.

But, is there any truth in this? Just because a lot of the practices used in the print industry over the years can now easily be done online, is print media dying out?

I know for me personally that I enjoy reading an actual paper newspaper I can hold in my hands, rather than one on my phone.

“When reading print, we have less distractions and so are able to fully take in messaging. A recent study conducted by Bournemouth University and PHD Media into solus focus found that 60% of consumers say they do not do anything else at the same time when reading magazines compared to 35% for social media. Couple this with print triggering multiple senses the effectiveness of print media is clear.” (YouLovePrint)

I also prefer being handed somebody’s beautifully printed business card instead of being asked to follow them on LinkedIn, but maybe I’m just old-fashioned.

However, saying that, the research does seem to agree with me. Here are three key reasons why print is not dying out. (Well, not quite yet anyway.)

1. Print ads are more trusted than online

Let’s not beat around the bush here – two of the biggest industries to consider in the ‘print is dying’ argument are marketing and advertising. These industries help other businesses grow, either through effective search engine optimization (SEO) or other marketing techniques. In recent times, marketers and advertisers have placed more and more reliance on online advertising, developing those annoying video ads that you see before YouTube videos or the random cookie-focused ads you find when scrolling through social media.

However, these ‘annoying’ online ads bring me to a good point: many people find them frustrating and even install ad-blockers to stop them appearing. Print ads, on the other hand, aren’t perceived in the same way. These are expected to be seen in printed material, and give readers a choice between interacting with them or not, instead of simply throwing them in their face.

It’s therefore fair to say that printed ads are more trusted than online ads and can help brands become affiliated with customers in a better, more personal way. The statistics even back this up as well, after a report by Marketing Sherpa found that eight out of ten internet users trusted printed ads to make purchasing decisions, over online equivalents.

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2. Printed media still offers value

Just last year, eMarketer estimated that almost £360 billion (or $457 billion) was spent by businesses on paid media. Of that number, a large proportion was, perhaps unexpectedly, spent on digital marketing, with U.S.-based marketers actually spending more on digital advertising than TV for the first time ever. Meanwhile, global print advertising saw a decline, with only an estimated net spend of £42 billion.

However, £42 billion ($53 billion) is still an awful lot of money and is definitely a long way from zero, or equivalent ‘dying out’ levels. This spending shows that many advertisers still believe in the value of print, as do many consumers. In fact, 90% of U.S.-based adults actually still read printed magazines.

It could be said that the debate between printed and digital advertising holds a lot of similarities with the debate between online music streaming platforms and CDs/vinyl. Many people predicted that these physical disc formats would have died out as a result of the rise of online streaming. However, that hasn’t been the case, and vinyl players have massively grown in popularity over the years. It could so happen that the same trend occurs within printed media as well.

Companies may choose to spend more money on digital marketing ventures, but the value and human touch that printed media can offer means it could still be around for quite some time. Just take a look at the example of content marketing company Contently. A few years back, they won the Best Brand Publication award at the 2016 Digiday Content Marketing Awards for its print magazine, Contently Quarterly. Their editor-in-chief said it was one of the most important things that they did at the time, and it still is today.

3. Print media is still the best choice for showing off designs

You cannot put a website on your coffee table. For industries which need to stand out, or base their success on networking, print is still the best form of media to use and is attributed to print business success. Whether it be through the form of a large printed ad in a newspaper or on a billboard, or a smaller sized leaflet or flyer, the budget that each business allocates to print media varies company-by-company, and industry-by-industry, but the important point is: many businesses still budget for it. If it was really dying out surely, they wouldn’t bother?

Printed media is tangible, easier to cut through clutter and can be truly beautiful. It can also make it easier to resonate with readers and monitor exactly how they are interacting with it. Online media may have its various benefits, but like I said earlier – I’d rather read a newspaper with my own two hands than stare at a laptop screen.

Final thoughts …

As the Columbian Journalism Review called it, print is the ‘new ‘new media’’. As their research showed, printed media is not dying out just yet and is in fact, seeing a bit of a resurgence if anything. Therefore, despite the fact that many companies are now spending less on print than they have done in previous years, that’s no reason to think that the form of media is any less important. Digital may be growing, but printed media isn’t done just yet.

Watch this space.

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